How Covid will change the the way you travel at Manchester Airport

Safety first at Manchester Airport
Photo: Manchester Airport

Safety first at Manchester Airport Photo: Manchester Airport - Credit: Archant

Seb Thompson is head of media, Manchester Airport and will be writing a monthly article for Cheshire Life with ideas and advice on travelling abroad.

Seb Thompson, head of media at Manchester Airport Photo: Manchester Airport Photo: Ian Howarth Pho

Seb Thompson, head of media at Manchester Airport Photo: Manchester Airport Photo: Ian Howarth Photography - Credit: Archant

This year has changed so many things for so many people, and while many of us have not lost our wanderlust, the way we fly is currently very different.

At the start of the pandemic we introduced a number of measures to make flying safe for those travelling. This includes mandatory face coverings (exemptions do apply), bookable security slots, temperature checking, enhanced cleaning, Perspex screens and limiting non-travelling people from the terminal buildings. While social distancing won’t always work in an airport environment, the adoption of these measures ensures the safety and security of everyone for the times when people cannot keep their distance, which is very much in line with government guidelines for all forms of travel.

We led the way in the industry with our fast response to the crisis and as well as the swift introduction of our safety measures, we maintain a constant dialogue with government to push for travel corridors and a sensible approach to quarantine to get the North flying again to as many destinations as possible.

The government’s new approach to overseas islands, which means travel to low-risk islands is permitted without the need to quarantine even if mainlands are on the red list – is a step in the right direction. Hopefully, this will be followed by a system that enables quarantine-free travel to regions on mainlands as well.

Safety first at Manchester Airport
Photo: Manchester Airport

Safety first at Manchester Airport Photo: Manchester Airport - Credit: Archant

The whole of our industry is also hoping progress will be made as soon as possible on a testing regime, as seen in many other countries, that reduces quarantine periods from the current 14 days.

So, with it being safe to fly and more destinations becoming unlocked, where can people jet off to from Manchester Airport for a bit of much-needed winter sun?

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At the time of writing, the usual winter sun staple of the Canary Islands would mean a quarantine period of 14 days, however now the government has an island-by-island approach, we should hopefully see these winter favourites return to the exempt list sooner rather than later.

Just a short distance from the Canary Islands is the much-loved Portuguese island of Madeira. At the time of writing mainland Portugal has gone back onto the quarantine list, but with the new island approach, Madeira remains exempt.

Funchal, capital of Madeira

Funchal, capital of Madeira Photo: - Credit: Archant

Only a four-hour flight from Manchester Airport with, it makes for a great winter sun destination. I can highly recommend the island either for families or couples and for young or older travellers.

On each of my visits, I have stayed in the capital, Funchal, which has a great food scene with scores of beautiful restaurants catering for all culinary tastes. Being an island means if seafood is your thing you are in luck. However, saying that Madeira is also big on its meat. I can highly recommend steak on the stone – which many restaurants will have on their menu. For the wine lovers, I suggest trying Portuguese vinho verde –green wine. A very crisp and refreshing white, which after trying in Madeira is now one of my go-to bottles back home. While there you also need to sample their local drink – poncha. It is a distilled alcohol made from sugar cane juice and is mixed with honey, sugar and either orange or lemon juice. Other varieties also exist using other juices such as passionfruit or pineapple. A word of warning – the locals make it quite strong, so go easy to avoid a sore head the next day.

Aside from food and drink, Madeira has a great range of tourist attractions and trips. If you’re a keen walker then there are dozens of routes and trips to take through the hills and forests on the island. These are called Levada walks and there are plenty to pick from.

In Funchal, I can also recommend the cable car, which gives stunning views across the island as you gently ascend. Once at the top, you can either take the cable car back down or for the more adventurous you can try the famous toboggans that whiz you down the winding streets at speed. Not for the faint-hearted but great fun.

The Dubai desert

The Dubai desert Photo: - Credit: Archant

Madeira has year-round sun and averages between 16-19 degrees centigrade in the winter months.

For those jet setters looking to get a bit further afield in search of sunnier climes, the United Arab Emirates is a great bet for some winter sun. Manchester Airport has flights to both Dubai (Emirates) and Abu Dhabi (Etihad Airways) taking roughly seven hours. Both airlines resumed flying in the summer and offer a mix of first, business and economy classes onboard.

Having visited Dubai several times, I cannot recommend it enough. You’re guaranteed great weather and great service. It also offers something for all types of holidaymaker.

You can literally lie by your hotel pool or on the beach all day, or you can shop your heart out at one of the many malls. Plus, it has a range of attractions to keep younger and adventurous travellers entertained too, such asSkydive Dubai, desert jeep adventures and a trip to the top of the Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest building) is a must.

Beaches in Barbados

Beaches in Barbados Photo: - Credit: Archant

Temperatures in the UAE range from 19-25 degrees centigrade in the winter months.

The great thing about the UAE is the onward connectivity both Emirates and Etihad offer. So, as well as a quick trip to the Middle East you could also go further afield to the Far East or Australia.

Heading to the west, Barbados is also another perfect winter sun option and currently on the Government’s exempt list. Both TUI and Virgin Atlantic fly to the Caribbean favourite with flights taking under nine hours. The dry season runs from December to May with average temperatures between 21-31 degrees centigrade.

Whether you’re thinking of a short-haul trip or a far-flung escape, we at Manchester Airport wish you a happy and safe holiday and would like to thank all our passengers for their patience and co-operation during these uncertain times. u

For more information on Manchester Airport’s Covid-19 advice see

For the latest foreign travel advice see: