It was hard to tell whether the pandemic would make travel more difficult or complicated than previously experienced. There was definitely going to be procedures that we hadn’t been through before. This was especially so 24 hours prior to expected lift off. We had to take a valid Covid 19 test with a confirmation from either a third party or direct supervision by the NHS. I personally used TreatLocal who sent me an antigen test to perform; alongside taking picture evidence within a set time frame with the test results. Fortunately I tested negative which was a relief but also a benefit to you as this trip would have been very short lived.
Arriving at Terminal 5 albeit eventless, felt surreal. Having spent two years basically quarantined from the rest of the world, it was a delight and dream to be one step closer to flying out to another continent. The terminal was busy and the number of people wearing face masks varied. Heathrow looked like it was doing its best to follow Covid guidelines, however there wasn’t as much enforcement for departures and arrivals. Check in was mostly automated which made processing smoother. Queues were moving quickly and assistance was available for passengers who had issues with the automated kiosks for check-in. Once we had checked in our bags, it was a very short walk to airport security.
Very little has changed regarding airport security, the queues were fortunately not very long and the procedure with liquids and electronics only hassled passengers who neglected to follow the guidelines. I was initially concerned that the amount of electronic camera equipment and devices would flag me for baggage check, this concern was ill founded. Once we were through security, we had a few choices to make, some of us wanted to go window shopping considering we were in a tax free zone. After some perusing, we made our way to a lounge access to relax and take advantage of a buffet breakfast.
Our gate was called out in good time for us to start moving. With a little bit of exercise, we made our way to the gate for our flight and boarded the plane. I was quite surprised that there was little need to provide evidence of vaccination. This seemed to be due to the VeriFly collaboration with British Airways. VeriFly is a third party company who provides the needed checks for vaccination and tests prior to flights and formal events. As part of checking in online, British Airways recommended the use of VeriFly to process vaccination and test documentation prior to the flight. Having done this, I believe they had little need to check my vaccinations and test results whilst I was in the airport.
We had a bout of luck regarding our seating positions in the plane. We all happened to be sitting in the same aisle without having planned our check ins. This allowed us to keep each other entertained during the flight and stay in good company. The flight was relatively uneventful and the food was acceptable. Even though this was a long haul flight, time ran relatively smoothly and the attention from cabin crew was frequent with food and drink inclusive of the flight. Once we landed in Chicago, we exited the plane and went straight through US border control. Once through, we were able to pick up our checked in bags from the conveyor belts associated with our flight.
Chicago greeted us with mildly warm weather and clear skies. After a short journey on a transfer bus, we located the car rental desks and started hunting for a good deal on a minivan. It is worth noting that we had a difficult time finding a deal which allowed us to travel across state. We originally had booked a car via Fox, however noticed that the contract restricted us from leaving the state. We settled on a contract with Thrifty based on the available cars and the contract terms.
Once the payment was made and the contract signed, we made our way to our first destination, Indianapolis. Due to how late it was getting, we decided to stay at a hotel prior to entering Indianapolis. Having spent over 23 hours awake, it was about time for us to call it a night.