The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a lot of changes to the travel industry. After three months of lockdown, the skies have started to slowly open up, and airlines are starting to reinstate flights. The first destination to announce a restart to international tourism was Mexico, more specifically the Yucatan Peninsula. So, I took the chance of escaping there for a week, in order to see the changes that we may face in the near future.

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Arrival

When I got there, two out of three terminals were completely closed, which was very sad to see. This comes from airlines having reduced flights due to low demand, while others still hadn’t resumed their flights to Cancun. My flight arrived at Terminal 3, where there were seven planes in total at that time.

After disembarking the aircraft, forms were given out asking questions about COVID-19. The form asked the date, which flight you arrived on, full name, email and phone number. Then it proceeded to ask which countries you have visited in the last 14 days, which cities/areas specifically and when you departed that country. I wrote only Toronto, Canada and stated that I live there. It then asked if you have been in contact with someone who had been infected, and if yes, then on which date and if you show any symptoms of COVID-19.

Customs

The airport has social distancing signs in the lineups, as well as at the baggage claims. Arriving at customs, it seemed like Air Canada was the only international flight that had arrived at that time. The wait time was only five minutes. I gave my entry card and COVID-19 questionnaire to the customs agent, and he just looked quickly, took the part that customs keeps and gave me the rest of the forms back with the stamped passport. He didn’t ask me a single question. Even the COVID-19 questionnaire was given back to me.

COVID-19 Questionnaire
PHOTO: COVID-19 Questionnaire. (photo by Teodor Mihail)

Baggage Claim and Exit

Considering how fast I passed through customs, I waited 13 minutes at the baggage claim until the bags started coming. My luggage had a sticker on it saying the bag had been disinfected.

The airport exit where travelers normally find friends or family waiting for them was full of security standing and looking at everyone coming down the hall. It seemed just like in Toronto, where non-travelers are not allowed to enter the airport. It seems like they were there to see if any travelers show signs of sickness.

Departure

The departure experience was different. I arrived at the airport around 11:30 a.m. for a flight departing at 2:15 p.m. Surprisingly, the airport was not as empty as I thought it would be. Considering it was in early July, the airport looked almost similar to how it usually would be in the summer when it’s not the high tourist season. This comes partially from the fact that Mexico never closed their borders. Resorts and tourist attractions were closed throughout April, May and the first half of June, but locals and anyone visiting friends or family could still fly there.

Departure flights from Cancun
PHOTO: Departure flights from Cancun. (photo by Teodor Mihail)

Checking In

I had checked in online and took advantage of the mobile boarding pass. Although the mobile boarding pass existed before the COVID-19 pandemic, it is now something that many people should take advantage of, in order to minimize human interaction. This is on top of the fact that mobile boarding passes will save millions of trees.

I went to a kiosk to print my luggage tag. This is something new for many airports, as a way to minimize human interaction. Originally, very few airports had that service. While I was printing my luggage tag, staff members were walking around cleaning any kiosks that didn’t have customers using them.

I went to the bag drop counter to check-in my luggage. I was asked if I had any symptoms of COVID-19. I stayed calm and said no, because I really didn’t have any symptoms nor had I had any throughout my stay in Mexico. Then I was given the same COVID-19 questionnaire as the one given upon arrival and was told that I needed to fill it out for departure as well. I also had my temperature taken.

Inside the Cancun International Airport
PHOTO: Inside the Cancun International Airport. (photo by Teodor Mihail)

Clearing Security

Clearing security was a breeze. The normal rules applied, with social distancing measures in place. I had to provide the COVID-19 departure questionnaire at security, and my temperature was taken again.

Post-Security

The duty-free shop and most of the restaurants and food courts were all open, with social distancing measures in place. It was lovely to see an airport with most services open. This was the opposite of how it was at Toronto’s Lester B. Pearson International Airport, where only two food venues were open. Just like the check-in area, the airport was pretty busy.

There were a total of 52 flights departing between 10:45 a.m. and 5:19 p.m. Twenty-two of them were domestic, 29 were to the U.S. and Air Canada was the only flight departing to any other destination around the world.

Overall, Cancun International Airport felt normal. Other than far fewer flights than usual, most services were open, and the airport has taken the proper precautions to prevent further spread of COVID-19. I hope to see more airlines starting their flights to Cancun. It is a wonderful destination where everyone should go at least once and completely open to tourism, with no mandatory 14-day quarantine for any nationality entering the country. It’s concerning to see that there was only one flight departing to any destination outside Mexico or the U.S. Hopefully we will see more airlines reinstate flights to this area.





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