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International travel has been one of the biggest casualties of COVID-19, with most of of us choosing not to go abroad amid ongoing fears about the global spread of the pandemic.

In Dublin Airport, for instance, passenger numbers for October were down a staggering 91% on the same month last year.

Ahead of Christmas, though, families across Ireland are attempting to plot a way home for family members and loved ones, and attempting to get clarity on what a trip to the airport will look like.

Most of us won’t have been in an airport in recent months – and today’s travellers have a very different time of it than we did in the good old days before the pandemic struck.

Today, a visit to the airport requires you to navigate a maze of safety protocols and procedures designed, as far as possible, to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Dublin Airport will offer testing on-site from next week, in a further effort to limit the threat of the deadly virus.

And there’s a slew of other hurdles to be navigated before and after stepping on a plane.

So if you’re planning a trip abroad (or back home to Ireland), or know a family member who is, here’s exactly what a trip to the airport looks like during COVID-19.

Parking your car

Dropping off the car pre-flight has been identified by Dublin Airport as a risk area, so the airport has put in place a system that allows passengers a contactless experience at both entry and exit.

If you’ve booked a space online, barriers will open automatically after reading your car registration, or you can also tap your credit or debit card.

As for the journey from car to terminal, you’re asked to wear a mask, sanitise and follow the social distancing rules in place.

Wearing a mask

We’re all more aware than ever of the importance of wearing a mask in order to limit the spread of the virus. And Dublin Airport is asking travellers to wear a mask «throughout your airport journey and always when you cannot socially distance.»

You’re asked to bring a mask from home but, on the off chance that you forget it, the airport is selling masks in vending machines and some stores.

Only children under 13 and those with a valid medical reason are exempt from wearing a mask, and masking up is also compulsory for airport staff in situations where social distancing is not possible.

28/02/2020 Advice leaflets at the Coronavirus/COVID-19 advice stand at the arrivals baggage claim hall in Dublin Airport

Entering the airport terminal

Only staff, crew members and passengers are allowed in airport terminals as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.

Exceptions can be made in some cases – such as for passengers with reduced mobility, or unaccompanied minors – but for the most part the emphasis is on keeping the terminal as empty as possible.

You’ll need to be able to show staff a valid travel document (either a boarding card or a passport) when you arrive at the airport.

Checking in

Dublin Airport says passengers should check in online, and use self-service bag drop kiosks, if it’s at all possible.

If you do…

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Read More: What to expect on a trip to Dublin Airport if you’re travelling during the

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