As you may have noticed, it’s been pretty quiet over here on The Dubai Diaries. I’m sure I don’t need to mention why, but as you can imagine the aviation industry has been impacted hugely by the COVID-19 pandemic.
I am very fortunate to still have a job, unlike many of my friends and colleagues who have sadly been made redundant. However, in comparison to my usual busy rosters, I’ve hardly been flying since March, although slowly things are starting to pick back up a little. That’s not to say more redundancies won’t happen; at this point it seems nobody knows when the airline industry will recover. I can only keep my fingers crossed that I am one of the lucky ones who gets to keep this job that I love so much.
Our second morning in Cappadocia saw us up bright and early, ready for a once in a lifetime experience – a hot air balloon ride! If you’ve been reading my blog for a few years, you may remember my amazing trip to Myanmar, with my friend Kirsty. She was pregnant at the time, so we were not able to ride in the balloons (click here if you’d like to read!), however this time Emma and I decided it was worth splurging for the experience.
We booked our hot air balloon ride via our hotel tour desk, and there are many different operators offering the ride. From what I’ve read online, the price varies depending on whether it’s high or low season, and we paid €100 each, which I found quite reasonable.
We were picked up while it was still completely dark outside and taken to the office of the hot air balloon company, stopping along the way to pick up a few more people. Once there, you could get some coffee and hot fresh bread rolls (the coffee was truly awful but the bread was lovely, at least!) while the organisers got everyone into groups to be driven out to the launch site.
Just before the world started to shut down and flights were getting cancelled left right and centre, I was lucky enough to visit the beautiful place that is Cappadocia.
My good friend Emma and I managed to get leave at the same time, so planned an amazing trip to Cappadocia and Istanbul. Sadly we never made it out of the airport in Istanbul as we had to catch one of the last flights out of Turkey before the borders closed, but we really made the most of our time in Cappadocia while we were there.
We are lucky that as cabin crew we have access to cheap standby flights, and from Dubai there are usually 2-3 flights a day to Istanbul with Emirates, either IST (Istanbul Ataturk Airport) or SAW (Sabiha Gokcen Airport). We decided to go via SAW as the connection to Cappadocia was better for us.
We had a couple of hours wait and enjoyed our first taste of some delicious Turkish food in the airport, and then hopped on a quick 45 minute flight to NEV – Kayseri Airport.
So I originally wrote this post around a week or so ago… in the meantime Emirates has announced that all flights are suspended, the UAE government has shut down the airports, and we will be taking a salary cut for the next 3 months minimum. These are certainly crazy and unprecedented times, and I feel lucky to still have a job.
I know of so many airlines that have paused or ceased operations completely, and with most of the world on lockdown the travel industry has certainly taken a big hit.
When I wrote this I still had all my flights on the roster, but day by day they disappeared and I was left with “available days”. As of March right now half of these destinations are ones that we’ve temporarily stopped flying to. I’m certain this will take longer than we all think, but we can be hopeful that perhaps there will be some flights rescheduled at some point in April.
So this is what my roster looked like when I got it a couple of weeks ago…. as of now I have none of those flights left!
BRU – Brussels, Belgium
WAW – Warsaw, Poland
RUH – Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (turnaround)
MUC – Munich, Germany
DAC – Dhaka, Bangladesh
BAH – Bahrain, Bahrain (turnaround)
BOM – Bombay, India (turnaround)
ATH – EWR – Athens, Greece & Newark, USA
I was actually quite looking forward to some of these trips – in particular the Athens Newark multi-sector which I’ve never done before. That was one of the first ones to go from my roster, sadly.
I was also supposed to have a trip to JFK at the end of March but that disappeared as well, and right now I’m home on quarantine. According to the UAE law we have to observe 14 days of quarantine after arriving from our last operating flight, that means not even leaving to go to the supermarket or out for exercise.
I’m trying to make the most of it and have been trying to do a daily workout from YouTube (although feel free to send any good workouts my way!), experimenting with cooking new recipes, and of course, plenty of Netflix!
In the meantime we can do nothing but stay strong, and hope that we will get our wings back soon and come back better than ever.
A few weeks ago I flew into London Heathrow, one of the UK destinations that I haven’t visited for quite a while. Since we started flights to Stansted which is much closer to home, I try to get that rather than LHR, but this time I was determined to go into London and meet up with my best friend Lucy, who moved there last year.
Obviously this was before the current regulations of staying home and social distancing due to the outbreak of Coronavirus, so please don’t think I’m insensitive for posting at this time – I thought it’d be a nice distraction to get back to my blog!
The weather was a grey gloomy day as I arrived in central London, however luckily the sun decided to make an appearance a bit later on. Lucy managed to take the day off work as she still had some holiday days to use up, and as it was mid-week it wasn’t too busy.