Life has changed completely since the coronavirus pandemic broke out. People’s habits have changed due to a number of restrictions. We wear masks, order food to take away, and do not travel as much. The decline in travel affects not only hotels but also the airports and the people who work there.
CNN Travel has asked some employees from different airports around the world to tell us what their lives and jobs have been like lately. The respondents also include Kata, who works at Budapest Airport, Hungary.
Kata is working as a check-in and boarding agent. She switched her job when the pandemic started. Kata previously worked as an airport ticketing agent. Her job was to check the passengers’ boarding passes and to supervise boarding at the departure gate. She says that she loved putting a smile on passengers’ faces and loved helping the passengers on their way.
However, Budapest and Hungary began responding to Covid-19 in March. The number of passengers drastically dropped to a fraction of the previous amount. Since there were no passengers, Kata’s work also became redundant. Kata was offered a role handling packages with PPE arriving from China.
Kata was really grateful to have a job, and she can still earn her normal salary. A lot of her colleagues went to work in administration roles for another company. Her new job was not easy at all.
“It was very hard because I am 55 kilos, and sometimes we had boxes which had 30 kilos inside the box,” she says.
Kata worked in cargo in the spring. In the summer, she could continue her ticket handler role when Europe opened up the borders and people could travel again. Later, in September, almost every country, Hungary included, closed its borders again as Covid-19 cases started to rise. Kata’s employers went into liquidation. She said: “now I’m at another company with almost the same people, doing the same job.”
Kata is back in ticketing. The borders are still closed, so there are just a few flights. Only a few airlines are operating flights from Budapest. “It’s very hard because it’s exhausting. Sometimes we only have two flights per day, one at 6 a.m. and one at 5 p.m. In between, we prepare the next flights. We check the destinations, and what passengers need to enter.”
“Everyone is sad, everyone is scared what will happen, no one wants to be sick, everyone wants to keep their job,” concludes Kata.
Besides Kata, there is Gaëlle Simon, who is a check-in and boarding agent at Brussels Airport, in Belgium. Teresa McClatchie from Houston, Texas, United States of America, works as a contractor at the George Bush International Airport. Finally, we can meet Joshua Wu, who works for one of the biggest airlines in Taiwan. He is a member of the ground staff at Taipei’s Taoyuan International Airport. His role includes assisting passengers at the gates with boarding and disembarking. They work at airports in different countries around the world. Their work is different too, yet they all agree that this period is full of challenges for everyone.
Source: CNN travel