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New normal vacation for OFW’s

New normal vacation for OFW’s – Saudi Arabia experience

BY: Ⓐ Parker ▒ TRAVEL FROM SAUDI ARABIA TO PHILIPPINES ▒ VACATION

As an OFW, we all wanted and we much waited for the time that we will go on vacation and finally see our loved ones from a long time. We sacrificed everything just to provide them with the good life that everyone wanted to be. 

Due to the pandemic, some vacations were rebooked several times due to airline issues and worst, they totally cancelled it. It is hard to look and to book a flight this time and some travel agencies precedes in getting slots, but the ticket price was getting higher as earlier as the booking date was. That’s why some OFW’s were still staying and just waiting their turn to get home. 

As we went to the Airport, we need to show our Tawakalna application, check in our baggage, pass thru the Immigration and wait on the boarding gate gives a mixed emotions, more as we walked on the jet bridge (passenger boarding bridge), we may felt teary eyed and full of excitement since the long wait is over, and we can rest for a year(s) of working far from the country and environment we used to grow with.

We board the plane around 6:35PM and we fly around 7:35 PM. (Saudi Arabia time). The boarding pass will show you how full the plane was as we reached and I am sitting on almost the end of the plane to 64D. But looking on the bright side, they were on time and had no flight delays. To be honest, even though we are already waiting at the boarding gate, we are still not sure if the flight will proceed or it will be canceled at that time. Everything is unsure unless the plane flies.

From Saudi Arabia travel back to Manila will consume 9-10hours of long flight just sitting on the plane and waiting time to arrive. But what activities can we do during the flight? We can sleep the whole trip, but it doesn’t seem comfortable. In line with this pandemic, we thought that there will be restrictions and social distancing inside the plane but as you can see on the picture, all seats are occupied and there’s no space in between passengers. Is that a desperate move so that all OFW can go home? They will go to risk everybody’s health just to go home? They were just giving free face shield upon entering the plane, and mandatory face mask and both should be wearing the whole trip. What will be the government say about this? And after this, they will require to quarantine everybody in 10 days upon arrival? 

You will be sitting inside the plane regardless of whether you are vaccinated or what. You were worried if the person sitting beside you was safe and vaccinated already. All you have to do is to protect yourself from everybody. Mandatory wear your mask and face shield, always use alcohol after using the toilet and after eating. 

Philippine Airlines seats automatically have a blanket and a pillow. They will also give the usual kit (toothbrush and small toothpaste, sleep mask, socks) and headsets for portable tablets in front of your seats with various movies and music that can entertain you during your flight. As part of new normal, they are not also having actual plane instructions such as do and don’ts and emergency practices during the flight, instead, they play a video pertaining to it. 

As part of the new normal, the flight attendants will give you several forms that will be submitted on the arrival area stages in the NAIA Terminal. Forms needed to fill up as follows:

  1. Health Declaration Card (Yellow Card)
  2. Bureau of Immigration Arrival Card (Red and White form)
  3. OWWA Project Care Slip (White form)
  4. Bureau of Customs (Custom Baggage Declaration form)

Kindly please refer to the related article for the Steps in getting into the New Normal process in Philippine Terminals.

Around 8:20PM, they serve the Dinner which having 2PCS of chicken with rice (that’s what I chose among different options like beef, and biryani), with buns and butter, dessert such as same as leche flan sweets and macaroni salad with cheese on tops, and of course, orange-pineapple drink (what I used to choose among all available drinks) and starving of hunger lasts. 

Around collecting trash, around 9:20PM they turn off lights and start relaxing the whole trip. From my experience, I can’t sleep since I am not comfortable on my seat even though I am too sleepy the whole day.

I watched a Filipino movie titled, “Unbreakable” starring Bea Alonzo and Angelica Panganiban, a story of two different people that accidentally met in an unexpected situation that leads them to become best friends. They got married with the same family, and they encountered different circumstances that tested their friendship in spite of their marriages. But still, in the end, the friendship remains and quoted that “no one and nothing can tear them apart”. And that’s the value of true friendship.

After trying to have some sleep, entertaining yourself and everything, they opened the lights and now serve breakfast. Everyone was awakened and seemed happy for one hour before we landed and will arrive in the Philippines.

Around 8:51AM (Philippines’ time) breakfast served includes chicken sandwich and a coffee with creamer. It solves the hungry tummy for a long trip overnight. Some of the passengers were getting ready with their things, having some retouching, finalizing forms given, and sightseeing the view on the plane’s windows, taking some videos and more.

And finally, around 9:30AM (Philippines’ time), the plane finally landed. It is a rainy morning, Philippines and we’re so excited after 2 years of being far from you. After announcing that the plane finally landed, everyone seemed very excited and so happy to stand, stretching their bodies and ready to walk out of the plane.

Although some changes occur due to pandemic issues, no one or nothing can stop one’s heart to go back to the place we used to be. No one or nothing can stop us from conquering someone’s fears of a pandemic just to see our loved ones from a long time. Now, we finally landed and hope you found something in this article that you may use in preparation for your future flights from Dammam to Manila by Philippine Airlines.

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