In the past two months, my family has flown twice. My son and I have been on 6 airplanes in 5 airports. My son is a germ magnet, who in spite of many lessons on viruses, still does not understand the concept of not touching all of the things. Even with my little germ monster, I feel totally comfortable and safe when flying. I completely understand that many would be more than hesitant to fly. Let me share our personal experience with you.
Mid-July & Mid-August 2020, I flew out of Salisbury, Baltimore, Charlotte (Layover), Phoenix and Orlando aboard American Airlines and Spirit.
I arrived extra early for each trip just in case there were Covid-19 precautions that slowed down the TSA line. My daughter timed us at BWI: from parking to past TSA took us 8 minutes and 13 seconds that included a completely empty parking shuttle! Thats totally insane, it took us 2 hours once and we almost missed our flight. Even MCO was completely empty and it is usually a madhouse of families returning home from Disney.
None of the 5 Airports I visited did any temperature checks. Masks were required and Social Distancing was recommended. For more information about the TSA and COVID-19, including employees who tested positive and what airport they work at, you can visit here.
All of the airports I visited were practically ghost towns. The busiest was Charlotte, but it was barely busier than the others. My son Charlie could run free and burn off that 7 year old energy before we got on our flight without disturbing anyone. There was no issue social distancing with one another with all that space. There was extra staff on hand for cleaning and all of the restrooms were especially clean. Hand Sanitizer stations could be seen around every corner.
Many restaurants and retailed shops were closed. Those ubiquitous Airport Stores selling Chex Mix, People Magazines and Neck Pillows were still open. The fast food restaurants seemed consistently to be open. Larger chains with dine in seating were limited to 50% capacity. We were happy to get through BWI TSA quickly so we could enjoy one of our favorite restaurants The Greene Turtle. It's a sports bar and we are not sports people, but they do play a really funny station with bloopers and people doing tricks the kids enjoy. Mike really recommends the Old Bay Wings.
I always check in the night before our flight and save our boarding passes to my phone. Upon doing so I was prompted to agree to a waiver basically stating I had no symptoms, a fever and that I did not believe I had COVID-19.
Our flights boarded by the traditional way by group numbers, but many airlines are beginning to board passengers by going back to front of the plane. On de-planing, the flight attendants request for passengers to be seated until the row in front of them leaves. However, I have yet to see this happen. It's a frenzied free for all. Our family sits and waits for most to leave before we exit.
We did not check our luggage for any flight (I should do a post on how to pack super light, I don't mess around!). I did observe zero social distancing at the luggage carousel, however if I did have to pick up luggage I would just stand back and wait. Patience will take us far in this Pandemic World we now live in.
Aboard the plane I would say all planes were 50-85% capacity. We flew to Phoenix when it was splashed all over the news as the worst hot spot in America. On that flight Charlie and I had the whole row to ourselves and nobody in front or behind us. Perks to traveling to an undesired location I guess. It was pretty awesome.
Since I sat through many hours of travel safety and have been keeping on top of the effects of COVID-19 on the travel industry, I personally was comfortable aboard the plane. Our family brought our own sanitization wipes and wiped down every touchable surface around us. Modern Airplanes recycle fresh air constantly. Every 2-4 minutes the entire air volume in the plane is replaced with clean filtered air. Because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes, most viruses don't spread easily on flights. We made sure to keep our vents overhead open. We also carried hand sanitizer everywhere we went.
Masks are strictly and constantly enforced by the airline attendants. We got to chat with our flight attendant for a bit on that empty Phoenix flight. She shared that she felt safe knowing that they deep cleaned between every flight and I did notice they were way more vigilant about trash collection on all of my flights. Aboard American Airlines, we received a bag containing a bottle of water and a Biscoff Biscuit (our favorite!... have you had the cookie butter?). Our friend did share that it can be frustrating when passengers refuse to fully cover their nose and mouth with masks even after being asked. I can fully understand that. After all, rates of transmission are much lower when both parties properly wear a mask.
Obviously this is just our personal experience, however I again state our family feels completely comfortable when flying. For the most part, we have completely stayed home since March 14th. When we come home from our trips, we absolutely keep to ourselves as best as possible and take every precaution possible to stay safe. Right now, flights have never been cheaper. Popular domestic destinations like Theme Parks and National Parks have never been emptier and we personally felt it was worth the risk. If I didn't struggle with wanderlust, would I even be a great travel agent? (A Post about our family's trip to Universal Studios in Orlando will follow this one. If you would like to keep update please click on the newsletter link below.)
Will airports stay this empty and flights stay so cheap? Absolutely not. However, as life goes on airports will eventually become more crowded. All we can do is stay up to date on the status of our nations airports and developments regarding the Pandemic. This is something I personally check on daily. If you are wanting to take a trip, especially right now, I highly recommend using a travel agent. We are up to date on the restrictions and procedures for almost anywhere you want to go. We know what to look out for and how to guide you in the right direction. The best part is we are absolutely FREE. While I am happy to help, there are also many wonderful travel agents at Travelmation who can also help you if you prefer.
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