Travel to Japan during COVID-19


Travel in Asia

In the fantasy book “The Hobbit”, the main character Bilbo Baggins went on an adventure that would change him forever. In my case, I am sharing the same feeling as Bilbo. It is a very strange feeling to leave my whole own life behind. During the last few months, I recognize that sometimes this felt like little bit too much for me!

After Bilbo experienced his own adventure, he advised his nephew as follows: “It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

So well, today I think I am starting my own adventure :)

Saying goodbye to my father at Madrid-Barajas Airport. Due to COVID-19, you cannot enter the airport unless you have a plane ticket, so this time the farewell had to happen at the airport train station.

One of the bad points about traveling by plane is that you have to go through many stages until you start the trip and this can take quite a long time. This time: check in the baggage, pass the security checks, take the airport train leading to the terminal and pass police passport control.

However, because I'm leaving to Japan for working, previously I also needed to process the visa, check my body temperature during the 14 days prior to travel, and take a PCR test. Of all these requirements, the PCR test seemed to me the most unpleasant. Arghh!

Madrid-Barajas Airport was completely empty because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Usually a lot of tourists arrive to Spain everyday and the flow of people at the airport is very high, but in 2020 the airport facilities were practically deserted.

In Terminal 4 of Madrid Airport there are two separate buildings for boarding into the planes. In my case, I needed to take the airport underground train to get to the boarding area. These airport trains are automatic and have no train driver inside.

The dots on the floor are guidance for keeping social distance, but this time there were so few people...

The boarding area of Terminal 4 completely deserted. Almost all planes are just parked on the ground and the airport facilities remain unused.

Less than 25 departures during the whole day! I've never seen anything like that at the Madrid airport.

For me, it is interesting to watch how they prepare the planes that are going to take off: refueling, unloading and loading of luggage and goods, delivery of meals for the trip...

Temporarily disabled airport seats in order to avoid the concentration of passengers. Actually there aren't many passengers...

Direct flights between Madrid and Tokyo have been suspended for now as currently there are not enough passengers to maintain this route and keep it profitable. Since April 2020, Japan has prevented tourists from entering the country.

My journey, therefore, is with Qatar Airways, making a stopover in Doha (Qatar).

It is always interesting to see what meals each airline offers during the flight!

The flight between Madrid and Doha takes approximately 6 hours. The plane was at only 15% of its total capacity.

All passengers on this flight must use plastic mask and face screen to avoid potential infections because of COVID-19. In my experience, I felt very safe during the flight because there were very few passengers.

Arrival at Doha. This is my first time in Qatar, although only for 2 hours.

At Doha Airport, Mac computers can be used for browsing the internet and entertain yourself before taking the next flight.

Some seats were restricted here too.

Interesting to see how the shops at Doha airport are still open even at midnight. Unlike Madrid-Barajas Airport, there was larger passenger flow here in Doha, as there are many flights connecting Europe and Asia.

Flight destinations, usually to Europe or Asia, but also to Africa and Oceania.

My plane for the next flight from Doha to Tokyo. This time the flight is for about 12 hours, so the whole trip is for about 18 hours of flight in total.

The best thing this flight has given me was the impressive view of the Himalayas! I didn't count on this nice surprise. Airplanes usually fly at about 10,000 meters altitude, but in the Himalayas there are many mountains that are over 6,000 meters above the sea level. In the case of Everest, it heights over 8,000 meters. Therefore, despite flying at 10,000 meters of altitude, the mountains look very close!

I've never seen so many mountains and snow in my life. On the ground you cannot see any sign of human life.

The Gobi Desert, another great natural spot in the world available to be enjoyed during the trip. Since the plane was virtually empty, I was able to freely move between the seats to enjoy the view. 😊

Quiet reigns inside the plane. The plane is an Airbus 350. It's a fairly wide plane and it can take 9 passengers in each row of seats.

I love seeing the cameras on the plane while I travel. This aircraft has several cameras, so it is possible to see the plane and the surrounding area from the camera on the tail or from just under the plane.

After flying over China, approaching the Korean peninsula. From here it is still 2 more hours until reaching the city of Tokyo.

Usually you need to fill out only two documents during the flight before arriving in Japan: the immigration document and the customs document. However, this time it is also mandatory to fill in medical documents so administrative work piles up. During long flights like this, it is always good to keep yourself entertained with different activities.

Qatar Airways is offering free internet access on this particular flight. This is not always the case, but you can entertain yourself in other different ways too.

Finally arrived!

This time I cannot say that the trip ended when I landed, as I still had to spend an extra six hours for doing procedures at ground and taking one more welcome-to-Japan PCR test.

I am very glad to have safely arrived to Japan but the next step is spending 14 days of mandatory quarantine locked in a hotel next to the airport.

I'll continue keep you updated! Big hug for all the blog readers!

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