December 2, 2020

Relatives crowded at the gates of Barajas and lone travelers in the terminal: “It looks like a cemetery”


A third of the 178 flights scheduled this Wednesday at the Adolfo Suárez Madrid Barajas airport operate from the recently opened T1. It is the first time in three months that the original terminal has opened its doors after the state of alarm, but not for everyone: only to those who show their boarding pass to security officers and have the mask correctly placed. New rules that respond to the opening of borders that the EU agreed yesterday and that, in the case of Spain, lifts restrictions on 13 other countries.

With this, the airport security seeks to avoid crowds at the terminals, but the confusion ends up causing the same crush on the only two glass doors that give access. “It is being crazy and it is only the first day,” laments one of the two guards while attending to questions, requests to go to the bathroom and complaints from family members for not being able to hug their loved one after collecting the luggage. .

A family says goodbye when informed that they cannot enter together

A family says goodbye when informed that they cannot enter together

MONICA ZAS

“For almost a year I have not seen my daughter, who lives in Paris and could not come last Christmas. Now I regret that I did not go or did not press her anymore,” says Patricia, her eyes riveted on each person who crosses dragging a suitcase. The emotional reunions, in the “new normal”, live the street, as well as the farewells, which catch more than one unsuspecting. A quick kiss, maybe too much, and a pat to avoid blocking the entrance to the one after. “It is very sad. You enter alone and it seems that this is a cemetery,” says Valeria, who returns to Rome to see her parents but has not been able to say goodbye to her husband, who will wait for her these two summer months in Madrid. .

The first flight to land on T1 at 10:05 was from Istanbul, as was the first to be operated from the capital. In total, 27 flights are scheduled to arrive on July 1, including some transoceanic ones such as from Abu Dhabi and Buenos Aires, and another 20 will leave this terminal, mostly to foreign countries inside and outside Europe, although the latter will be scheduled more regularly in the coming days due to the publication of the EU list, as airport sources explain.

Crowd at the only entrance gate for arrivals in T1

Crowd at the only entrance gate for arrivals in T1

On the other side of the door, those who arrive are even more restless. Diego leaves with a puzzled look because his father said he was going to pick him up and can’t find him, so he approaches to ask the only people who roam that area of ​​the terminal: the journalists. When they tell him that everyone on the street, he smiles under his mask. His flight arrives from London, where he works and where he ensures that airport controls are by no means exhaustive.

“The feeling of traveling by plane has been as usual, except for the mask. The seats were full, the stewardesses were walking all the time and the man next to him has even bought a cologne,” laughs this young man from 31 years. Although he read in the press that the health plan for international travelers included a temperature measurement and a visual diagnosis, he has only been aware of handing over the paper of the documentary record that he had printed from England. “If there were thermal imaging cameras, I haven’t looked at it,” he admits.

Neither did Jaime and Michela, who flew from Dublin and for the first time in months, returned home. “We couldn’t print it in Ireland, but at least we had our own pen. Sharing it with everyone who got off a plane doesn’t make any sense,” she complains. As reported by Health, the app to digitize the data of the newcomers -flight number, name, contacts with COVID-19, place of residence in Spain and reason for the visit- is available from this Wednesday.

Loneliness upon arrival in T1

Loneliness upon arrival in T1

MONICA ZAS

The image of the mass at the gates collides with the emptiness that is perceived inside the terminal. Although Aena has provided extra personnel to help with border health control, the security staff has lost out in the cast. “I do not understand how people are able to get on a plane when we are. There are going to be more outbreaks for sure,” laments the guard, as she tries to explain to a guide that she cannot pick up her clients inside the terminal. But there are many who have been dreaming of this day since the state of alarm was decreed.

Jaime is a computer developer and from the beginning of this year his company allowed him to telework from wherever he wanted and he was clear: Lisbon. While he was planning the move, the coronavirus pandemic forced him to delay his plans until today, who is waiting in line without paying much attention to the news and risks. “I’m not afraid to get on the plane. In the end, you think about it and if you’re careful it’s like going by car or by Metro,” he says.

Billing queue within T1

Billing queue within T1

MONICA ZAS

Despite continuous indications from security personnel, airport megaphones, or the hundreds of floor stickers begging to keep the safety distance, carefreeness is the norm. “It is a little implausible that we force to maintain the distance in the tail and that later the passengers are going to get on a full plane,” sums up a ground stewardess. He also admits that he does not perceive a very different environment from the previous days, when only repatriation and business flights operated from T4.

The lack of family members, together with the fact that the restaurants and shops remain closed, although yesterday the Transport Secretary announced the opposite, floods the T1 with solitary travelers, exhausted on the ground by heat and boredom and with the only company of their suitcases.

Only the Erasmus student groups represent the hustle and bustle that existed before at airports. “We are very sorry to return to Catania, but we have already stayed longer than we should because we could have taken a repatriation flight,” says María, who is resting next to a transfer machine. vending, the only option to eat something and get strength before control. “It gives us a little fear, we do not know what we are going to find,” admits the Italian. A feeling that overflows both those who come and those who leave.

The catering establishments are closed in T1

The catering establishments are closed in T1

MONICA ZAS

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