Even in the midst of the current COVID-19 pandemic, we have continued communicating with our program participants to support them in their Educational Travel journey. Some of our participants stayed wherever their program destination is while others decided to come home.
Angie, one of our Hospitality Internship Asia Program participants recently returned to Thailand from Switzerland. She is a Hospitality student currently enrolled at one of our partner Universities in Switzerland.
In one of our recent exchanges with her, she decided to share with us the journey she went through in trying to get home. Let’s hear what Angie has to say about traveling internationally to Bangkok during COVID-19.
“ My travel adventure during COVID-19 was different (but not unusual) from my previous international trips.
Firstly, I had to contact the Thai embassy in Switzerland so I could start the process where they would put me in a queue for the flight while also collecting some personal information.
They would normally contact around two weeks before you’re supposed to fly, informing you that there is a flight available for you. Unfortunately, they did not have any direct flights from Switzerland to Thailand, but they did have flights going from Vienna airport to Bangkok. This meant that I would have to find a way to arrive at Vienna airport, whether through a flight or a bus.
So, I had to organize myself from Zurich to Vienna while the embassy was organizing the flight from Vienna to Bangkok. I immediately booked my flight from Zurich to Vienna and the embassy instructed me to wait for their confirmation (a call) for buying the ticket for Vienna to Bangkok.
This would bring us into the second stage where the embassy instructed us to take a health examination for a ‘fit to fly’ certificate. This was not a COVID-19, but an examination to see if the passenger has any COVID-19 symptoms. The examination for this had to be taken 1 or 2 days before the flight otherwise the certificate would not be valid.
During this time, the passengers received lots of documents to be signed from the government and the airline that will be flying us to Bangkok. All of these documents had to be printed and presented on the day of the flight, including the ‘fit to fly’ certificate.
I got a confirmation from the embassy 5 days before I was supposed to fly to buy the ticket from Vienna to Bangkok. In my case, I had to call the airline directly (number provided by the embassy) to book my ticket and they already had all my information on a list that was provided by the embassy. All I had to do was confirm my name, birthdate, and finally my credit card details. They went over with some details about the flight and luggage. The day of the flight was pretty normal, I just had to wear a mask at all times and had to undergo more security checks. My flight arrived in Vienna early morning while our flight to Bangkok was in the evening. The embassy officials from Vienna greeted us at a gate with a lunch box, a bag with snacks, and essentials (extra face mask, wet cloth, water, etc.). While waiting for our flight, the officials checked our documents to ensure we had everything ready, and if not, they provided it themselves. Come time for the flight to Bangkok, we were seated with a spare seat between each passenger.
Once we landed in Bangkok we had to wait at the airport terminal for at least an hour to get all of our documents checked again. They also had to check our temperature. We went through immigration in small groups. There were officials everywhere guiding us on where to go and reminding us to stay in a safe distance. Once we got through immigration and got our luggage, they started to lead us outside to have our bags sprayed and disinfected. From there, we took our bags to the bus and just waited. They then took us to the Avana Bangkok Hotel. Once we arrived, the officials took all of our luggage out and lined them up. Only 5 people were allowed out at a time to pick up the luggage, to check the documents once again, and to get our room keys. They only allowed one person per room (unless you have children, then you can have up to 2 people maximum).
Once inside the room, we found some documents in Thai, listing the instructions, rules, and regulations of the quarantine. This includes no passing of any items between rooms and daily self temperature checks with a thermometer found in our room.
The hotel dropped food off in front of our room 3 times a day.
During the quarantine period, I was tested twice for COVID-19. The first one was 3 days after our arrival and the next is 3 days before your departure. It was a quick nasal swab test and results came in within 24 hours.
That’s basically how my journey went. I’m just glad I was able to come home safe and healthy. Thank you for checking on me. ”