Answering Your Questions About Safe Travel With The COVID-19 Rules & Restrictions
Published Dec. 18
When I mentioned to a few friends that I was flying to spend the holidays with my family, a friend who wanted to do the same started peppering me with questions.
Do you think it will be safe? Are you worried about catching COVID on the plane? What about TSA screening and COVID rules? Can you even travel with various state restrictions? Will you stay away from your family and quarantine for two weeks when you get home?
After having made the journey, I can now answer all of these questions. And I’ll start with the last one: No. I mean, what’s the point of going home if I am going to avoid being around my family? If you don’t feel safe or are worried about passing any traveling germs along to loved ones, then don’t travel.
I flew on Delta Air Lines from San Diego to Knoxville, TN, stopping in Atlanta for a layover, on Tuesday, Dec. 15.
That’s an old expression that takes on extra meaning these days. The travel was safe and all the passengers and staff were wearing masks. I encountered no issues and no pushback from passengers toward security or airline employees and crew (fortunately, for I hate drama and can’t stand people causing it).
Regarding state restrictions on flights, there are none. Oh yes, our pesky California governor doesn’t want people traveling for non-essential reasons – and since he is from the state originally and doesn’t have to worry about it he considers going home to spend the holidays with your family to be non-essential – but it’s only a suggestion.
Hey, just be smart and be careful!
TSA Checkpoint A Breeze
It took me longer to understand the TSA agent’s muffled voice instructions because he was wearing a mask than it did for me to get through security. There was only one person in front of me and just two people in another line. I was through it in two minutes. I did have to remove my shoes and laptop from my backpack, per usual.
The Empty Airports
What got my immediate attention was how deserted the airports were at all locations. Even in Atlanta, where even the train between the terminals was practically empty.
And they were quiet, like the way they are at international airports in those huge terminals (ever notice how loud and noisy airports are in America and how whisper-quiet they are in Europe!?).
But what has stuck with me the most was the vacant concession areas. San Diego’s airport has a large, bright atrium looking out over the tarmac and practically nobody was in it. Because of the lack of travelers, there were no customers at the shops and restaurants. The food vendors had a lone person behind the counter and that’s when it hit me that those workers, in addition to staff at restaurants and bars, have also been suffering with layoffs and reduced hours.
The Flight – Masks, Flight Attendant Service, Snacks & No Cocktails
My flight attendant friends love working now because, well, they hardly work on flights anymore. I know why now – after takeoff the flight attendants came through the cabin and handed out a baggie that contained a small bottle of water, a package of Goldfish (United has pretzels – hey score one for Delta!) and one of those Biscoff cookies. I call this the “pandemic snack pack.”
I had brought my own sandwich on board (you could also buy one) and pulled down my mask to eat. Not a problem.
I chuckled at one of the pre-flight announcements, that there was no alcohol being served. Unfortunately that’s a reality today for those in coach. I did ask for and received another bottle of water later in the flight when one of the FAs was walking through the cabin.
Just like the service, the flight was uneventful. I watched a couple of ESPN shows on the entertainment service (free) and took a deep power nap. I actually had the entire middle row to myself as occupied seats were spread out throughout the cabin.
At no point did I think or say to myself “wow, I’m not feeling comfortable.”
In many ways it reminded me of flying in the pre-9/11 era, when it was calm and relaxed. Even the baby next to me didn’t cry.
As for the trip itself, I found it to be very safe and both planes I boarded were clean. The only part I did not like was wearing a mask for 10 hours but that’s a small footnote when compared to spending Christmas with my family.
Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays!