A SCOTTISH holiday-maker has called out Ryanair about his “worrying experience” on board after he became one of the first passengers on the resumed flights to Spain.

Kieran Reape travelled from London to Barcelona to see his girlfriend Valentina on July 10, just days after quarantine restrictions for visitors returning to the UK were lifted in England.

Kieran recalled: “It was pretty much packed, it’s a low-budget price airline after all, but I was fortunate to be able to get a seat in a row by myself by the fire exit.

“But there were rows of seats where all three were taken up by people not from the same household. People were wearing masks but I was worried, I was concerned.

“There were some kids too giving out, and people from the same families moving about trying to get into seats with each other.

“They were handing out drinks and food as normal and I even had one flight attendant leaning over me.

READ MORE: Scottish Government reintroduces Spain 14-day quarantine period

“I didn’t go to the toilet on board and they had asked that if you don’t have to go to the toilet then don’t.”

Kieran, 23, who works for the SNP in London, was also surprised at how different the screening was in the UK from Catalonia.

“I didn’t get any checks at London Luton. I handed over my luggage the same as normal although the woman behind the counter had her mask on.

“It was a lot different in Barcelona. We had to fill out a sheet of paper which came in many different languages asking where you’ve been for the last 14 days, where you’ve come from and your address.

“They then checked to see if it’s signed although you’d think they wouldn’t have any way of telling.

“You then had a queue for the infrared camera with someone in a white forensic suit checking you – none of which they had in London, although I don’t know if the system is different in the UK for arrivals than the one for departures.”

Scottish tourists have been yearning to return to Spain after their summer was disrupted by Covid-19 and at last got the green light last week when the Scottish Government lifted their restrictions. But can it really be the same holiday experience, particularly in Catalonia where the locals have been living with the spectre of a return to lockdown because of isolated spikes?

Valentina Servera Clavell, 21, who is studying multimedia journalism at Glasgow Caledonian University but is back in her home city to look after her mother, said: “The biggest outbreak was in the Lleida region which is a rural area.

“It wouldn’t be very popular with tourists but where there are a lot of fruit pickers.

“Here in Barcelona the advice has been to stay at home if you can but the city has been opened up again for tourism and you are seeing more people. And the beaches are packed.

“Everybody is told that they must wear face masks but once they get down to the beach then they take them off, and there are no security guards to monitor them.”

So, what is it like to wear a face mask in the sweltering 28-degree heat of a Barcelona summer?

Kieran said: “In London where I live, there are only about 30% of people wearing masks and in Scotland a bit more, but here in Barcelona everyone is wearing them.

“They can be uncomfortable, particularly if you’re a visitor here and it’s hot. And the first thing you notice is the sweat dripping down your lip.

“The breathing shouldn’t be a problem but make sure that you get the right batch, the fabric ones are better.

“They even do Barcelona FC masks at the Camp Nou for €18.”

What is more enjoyable is the spaces that have opened up in the city with fewer numbers, although Valentina admits that she can always spot the British tourists: “They are pale, sunburnt and lost.”

“Myself and Kieran went to Las Ramblas and where normally you can’t go five metres without bumping into someone, which is a challenge if you’ve got social anxiety, it was so empty.

“And there are no big crowds around the monuments in the city such as the Cathedral or La Sagrada Familia, while the Camp Nou was empty.”

The city’s main attractions might well be eerily quiet for this time of the year but the hotels, restaurants and bars – the primary reason most Scots visit Barcelona – are at 50% capacity for the most part.

“They open it up outside and everything seems to be normal with beer gardens and outdoor dining,” Valentina explained.

Valentina has been noticing that the tourists are beginning to return to Costa Brava, a popular holiday destination for Scots, particularly in light of the reduced prices for the resorts.

All in all, it’s the same holiday experience we have always known – with one notable exception.

Valentina added: “Yes, it’s sun, beach and sunbathing, and eating and drinking, all the things as normal but it’s not the same club experience.

“You’ll be allowed to dance in the space around your seats but not on the dance floor.”

This, too, has been borne out in the type of holiday-makers who have been seen in the streets of Barcelona and the beach resorts; more families and couples, and fewer stag and hen dos and party people.

But are the locals worried that the returning tourists will bring the virus with them?

Valentina warned: “People are keen to open for business and earn as much as possible. But it’s a bit scary.

“We are still not out of it. The UK is one of the biggest affected and in the airport there are not many controls with the numbers of people and the lack of social distancing.

“The locals do have a fear and this morning there was a report about an increase in cases for younger people who are forgetting about the virus.”

The Sunday National approached Ryanair for comment.