Since March Troy, myself, or both of us have flown out of 5 major US airports and 6 smaller ones and together a total of about 14 flights since April 2020. All except one have been strictly for business and we’re extremely thankful for that right now- not everyone has those opportunities and we are keenly aware of that. I’ve gotten a lot of questions about what it’s like to fly in the US with pandemic restrictions, so I thought I’d share our experience flying during Covid.
I have to say, I had a hard time not thinking about how it really doesn’t make a lot of sense- especially when you type it all together like this! But this is our experience, so maybe someone will find it helpful if you find yourself flying during Covid.
Booking an Airline Ticket
If you have a choice, I highly recommend flying in and out of smaller airports. In a smaller airport there is really no problem social distancing and the entire process is just so much less stressful. In the larger airports its a mixed bag at best and it just depends more on how busy the airport is when you’re there.
When you book a ticket with an airline, you have to sign a waiver now basically stating that you know the risks and that you agree to wear a mask.
A Positive: I’m not sure about American Airlines but I know that Frontier and United are offering to let you change your flight right up until check in at zero charge and you can complete that entire process online very easily!
The Scene at the Airport
In the larger airports we’ve been in it was difficult to social distance. In one particular airport people just piled into the gates, business as usual, except that everyone was wearing a mask. It’s a little unnerving- but let me be clear here-even BEFORE covid I would not have been piling into a crowded gate like that. I’ve always been a social distance-r by nature, lol. Of course you will be required to wear a mask the entire time, so make sure you’ve got one thats comfortable for you because it can be a long day. This is the one I find easy to wear and comfortable to breathe in but I really want one of these pure linen ones if we’re going to be doing this awhile.
Also as a side note- oddly, you have to wear a mask even if you are wearing a face shield.
All the airports we’ve been in are filled with easily accessible hand sanitizer stations. Most of the restaurants and bars in the airport are all opened back up and social distancing is practiced in most if not all of the ones we’ve seen. Some have instituted touch screens, some have removed some bar seats to keep groups apart. There’s lots of excessive cleaning, which I’m all about at the airport.
We’ve flown on United, American and Frontier. We BY FAR have had a better experience on United and Frontier each time. United and Frontier are making clear efforts to keep things clean and they’ve just been much friendlier all the way around. United is loading the plane 5 rows at a time from back to front. Personally, I find this to be a MUCH more efficient boarding procedure! Frontier does a forehead temperature check as well before you board the plane.
On the plane there are no empty seats if the airline can book them. (I know! <eye roll>)
American Airlines was barking out orders and threats at the gate before boarding and it just makes everyone uneasy. The American employees we dealt with in 2 different states were cold and unfriendly. They all seemed stressed. It was like “Here. Heres a complimentary sanitizing wipe. There will be no food or drink. Sit down and don’t take off your mask.” LOL Friendliness and patience goes a LONG way these days.
On our most recent United flight, they offered a beverage service again! Y’all- since March of last year there has been ZERO beverage or food service on the planes….unless you’re in First Class. (I know. I know… I don’t make the rules, I’m just telling you what it’s been like.) But this last flight, it looks like maybe they are starting to resume a more normal service?
Also it seems like the airlines have developed a paranoia about the trash you leave behind. The flight attendants constantly walk up and down the aisles with a trash bag and repeatedly ask you not to put any trash in the seat back pocket. I’m sure it has to do with quickening the new cleaning procedures in between flights, but its a notable difference so I thought I’d mention it.
All in all, IMO it hasn’t been that bad. For the most part people are doing the best they can and getting on with things. Everyone is wearing a mask, you’ll see people wiping down their seating areas, using hand sanitizer a lot and trying to keep space between themselves and others etc.
Shop the Post
Having said all of that, I’ll tell you this; people are HURTING.
I saw a little boy crying his eyes out because his dad was having to fly out. The little boy’s caregiver was telling him “It’ll be OK, daddy will be back. He’s just got to go and make some money.” Troy and I instinctively tried to cheer him up too because we were standing right there and the woman explained that his dad had been laid off and this was the first chance he’d had to get work, so he had to take it. That broke my heart.
I also witnessed a man trying to fly to his family in another state but was unaware that paying for baggage was an extra charge. He didn’t have the money to pay for his bags! (We were too far away when we heard what was going on and the situation there had already escalated. I still feel bad for that man and wonder if he got a flight home.)
If you look around while you’re traveling it’s obvious that people are struggling. Everyone is doing their best to keep afloat. I don’t think thats going to get easier before it gets harder, so I try to remind myself often that we need to really try to be extra kind and patient to one another and go the extra mile when we can. People are hurting.
I know that many of you have flown during Covid- what has your experience been? The same? Did I miss anything? If you are in another country what is it like there?
I hope this was helpful in letting you know what to expect if you are flying during Covid.
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