My journey through Covid-19 Pandemic crisis

Writer: ABDULLAH MOHIBUDDIN Category: বাস্তব থেকে নেয়া (Anecdote) Edition: Dhaboman - Winter 2020


I had to travel to Dhaka, Bangladesh at the end of January 2020 to take care of personal business. I was scheduled to fly back to Canada on 27th March 2020. On 20th March, one Capt of Biman- Bangladesh Airlines told me to leave on an early flight scheduled on 21st March as all flights could be canceled and the Dhaka airport closed. I took his advice and got hold of the operating Captain of that flight and requested to take me on the jump seat as I am a retired flight engineer of Bangladesh Biman. Once I received his confirmation I started to pack my suitcase.

On the morning of March 21st, I checked in on the specified Biman's flight from Dhaka to London. I was lucky to get a passenger seat. Before boarding the plane, the Biman staff who was checking the passenger's passport pointed out that I didn't have a UK Visa. As a Canadian citizen, I didn’t need to have a visa in the UK but for some reason, this staff was not aware of it. Anyway, once I explained this to him he let me through.

After landing at London Heathrow airport, I stayed one night in a hotel nearby. Unfortunately the very next day the UK govt declared Lockdown. Fearing that I might get stuck in London, I rushed to the airport in the morning and checked-in though my flight to Toronto was scheduled to depart late in the afternoon. I spent the time sitting in the departure lounge without any food or drink as all the coffee shops and restaurants in the airport were closed.

After landing at Toronto Pearson Intl Airport, I had to go through a random check by the Public Health department. They asked whether I had fever, cough, and breathing difficulty, which I answered negatively. They informed me that according to the local COVID 19 regulation I was required to go through 14 days of self-quarantine and asked if I had made arrangements. I told them I had already arranged to stay in Toronto with my son and daughter. I took an Uber and went straight to my destination in Toronto, which had just started the Covid Lockdown. I spent the next 14 days in self-quarantine while my children took care of me. After ending my quarantine I returned to my home in Waterloo.

Since I left unfinished work in Bangladesh, I had no choice but to return during the 2nd wave of Covid Lockdown. I left Toronto on 17th October 2020 for London Heathrow airport. This time around even traveling by air became difficult as the Public Health departments in every country had become more cautious and set more rigid regulations.

 Besides frequent hand sanitizing, wearing a mask, and keeping social distance, the airline set additional Covid regulations. Most important of them was to have a negative Covid test done within the previous 72 hours of arrival in London. Also, all Canadian passengers were required to fill the Locator Form and submit it within 48 hrs of arrival. A printed copy had to be shown during check-in. Without it, Airlines would not allow any passengers on board. Since my next destination was Dhaka, Bangladesh, the UK Govt allowed me to leave London Heathrow airport within 24 hrs of arrival, saving me a hotel stay in London.


Even though I had reached London Heathrow airport by British airways at 10 in the morning, I had to wait until 5:30 in the afternoon to board my departure flight by BIMAN- Bangladesh Airlines. I got so tired of waiting idly that once I got in the airplane and relaxed in a comfortable seat in the Business Class, I instantly fell asleep. The attending Air hostess later mentioned to me how she resisted waking me up during her trips to serve food as I was in such a deep sleep. Biman's Business Class in Boeing 787 Dream liner is essentially a super First Class. Seats can be flattened like a bed. Cabin service and food are excellent. I would request all readers to travel at least once by Biman's Business Class if the situation permits. You are guaranteed to have a very enjoyable experience.

My return from Dhaka to Toronto on 16th November was mostly uneventful. Upon arrival knowing that I was coming back from Bangladesh the airport immigration at the  Toronto Pearson Intl airport asked me to self-quarantine for two weeks ( to wear a mask, stay in a single room, frequently hand sanitizing, and not to allow any guests ). A couple of days later a lady from the Public Health department called and asked me about my health condition and whether I was following the Covid regulations. I informed her that I was and jokingly added I was so relaxed all alone in my room that no Covid would dare come anywhere near me, making her break into a burst of laughter. That made me feel a lot better. She seemed to be genuinely caring. Canada has been my home for a long time and I truly love this land and its people.  

God bless us all.