Reunion Island was among the few places that did not go on complete lockdown during my stay. We still had the privilege of exploring and doing other leisure activities.
Key things to know as an Assistant – this may also apply even if you are not one.
- Getting the required recommendation documents signed from your school.
If you check the emails sent by France Education International, there are reminders and links to this effect.
- Closure of accounts; it is important to close all your subscriptions so as to avoid money getting deducted from your bank account.
This leads to my second point where if possible withdraw and close all your bank accounts before departure. If you are not expecting any further payments after your departure it would be wise to just close the account. It’s been 3 months since my departure and still following the long process of closing my account with La Banque Postale – trust me you do not want to go through this long tedious process.
- Caf – ensure to change your address and inform Caf, if you were a beneficiary, about your departure to avoid continuation of money being sent to your account which they will later demand for a refund.
Reason to Travel
However, air travel from or to Reunion Island was prohibited unless there was a compelling reason. Six days at the latest before flight, travelers had to apply online to validate compelling reasons for travel.
Travelers had to make an online request to authorize their trip no later than 6 days before their departure. All details could be found online; http://www.reunion.gouv.fr/motifs-imperieux-liste-des-justificatifs-a8194.html including all travel updates.
The travel request is processed and the supporting documents verified. The prefecture (Island admin) can notify an opinion favorable or unfavorable to the trip. Without a return within 48 hours of the flight, the opinion is considered favorable. On boarding, we the travelers had to present:
- The notice issued by the prefecture or, failing that, the receipt of the request,
- Supporting documents for the overriding reason for travel, – which for me was return to home country
- The contact-tracing form,
- The negative result of a test RT-PCR carried out within 72 hours before boarding,
- The certificate specifying the absence of symptoms and the pledge on honor to carry out a septaine (7-day quarantine) and an RT-PCR test on D + 7.
The list of passengers authorized to board had already been communicated to the airlines, which systematically refused boarding of passengers who had not completed the procedures or for whom a negative opinion had been issued.
I left the island on Wednesday night for Paris. I flew with Air Caraïbe because one can gain miles from flying with them. Though once you land in Paris- Orly Airport you’d have to check out your luggage catch a train or taxi depending on your next flight from Charles de Gaulle airport. It is also cheaper comparing to the other flights from the island to France.
Tips: -If you decide to go this route make sure you have enough time to connect an example is my flight was arriving in Paris – Orly Airport at 7am in the morning and my next connecting flight to Kenya from Charles de Gaulle was at 4pm. This meant I had enough time even with my heavy luggage to maneuver my way around the train station getting to the other side, or you can choose the expensive, relaxed and quicker method – Taxi!
-Book your flights earlier before the 2 weeks school vacations as prices hike during that time.
The plane was half full meaning there was a lot of room for social distance which I really enjoyed. The traditional blanket was offered for the 11hr flight.
There was also coordination on exiting the flight with passengers alighting in small groups and not the normal crowding and rushing for the exit. It was impressive.
My transit to the next airport was a bit smooth. Some Good Samaritan offered to help me with my bags all the way :-). The train transit took about 45mins.
I caught up with Ajami a few minutes before her flight back to the US. We roamed the airport a bit before parting ways to our respective gates.
From Paris, I had a connecting flight to Egypt then Kenya. Yaani this flight – Egyptair, was fully packed and it was just sad that even the passengers could confidently sit having removed their masks. I was lucky that I was on a three-seater and we were just 2 passengers so we left the middle seat empty.
On reaching Egypt I was actually in a hurry since I didn’t have that much time in between my current and the connecting flight. But order was like a foreign vocabulary. Everyone had stood and pushing towards the exit, even with the health officials around nothing changed as they looked less bothered. All they did was just to confirm our Covid negative certificates.
It was now Thursday night and I was rushing to catch my last flight. This being a foreign airport and just to be sure of where I was going, I stopped at one of the information desks to inquire where my next gate was. “Your flight is not leaving tonight, just go to the next counter you’ll be given a hotel room,” was the response from the airline attendant.
On further inquiring why the flight was cancelled, no answer was given and was told to write an email to the head office to be given an answer. As if that wasn’t enough I was left unattended with no communication for over 2hours as I waited to get a hotel room. Covid restrictions at this airport were not even followed even the airport staff just walked without masks.
100hrs later, having remained with our passports, were given a bus and taken to the hotel – since we were quite a number whose flights had been canceled. I just had dinner and went to sleep after informing my family of the recent happenings.
My flight was now scheduled for Friday – the following day at night so I didn’t have to wake up early. What annoyed me was that I had to foot in my bill for lunch since it was not included in the meal voucher yet I was staying at the hotel till the following day in the evening. Anyway at this point I was done with Egyptair – it was my first and last time to fly with them.
Read how they left one of my luggages in Kenya on my flight to Paris with no valid excuse
At least one positive thing that they did was they gave out a toiletry bag during their flights that contained important things like 2 surgical masks with a disposable bag, a pair of gloves, two refreshing towels and two packs of hand gel.
I literally spent the whole of Friday in between meals and sleeping. I was later picked in the evening and dropped at the airport. Nothing had changed same – same fully packed flight with half worn or no masks at all. It is safe to say I was happy I didn’t contract anything and was ready to get off the flight as soon as it touched down at Jommo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).
Upon landing we had to fill out an online health form which was later scanned and we were required to dutifully update our daily symptoms for 14days to the Ministry of Health.
– I have learnt that it is always wise and safe to carry extra clothes on my carryon bag. This I will do intentionally.
-If possible also have extra cash on you just in case.
-Snacks are also great company 🙂
In case you also missed the Vlog – I got you