I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I had almost forgotten what air travel was like! I missed it! It certainly is a little different in these days of Covid!
After seven months of waiting to visit our family and especially our then 8-month old Granddaughter and having both a close family member at high risk and personally having chronic asthma, it made deciding whether to fly a tough decision. My husband and I both had our facemasks and face shields, but to be honest, I waived on getting on the plane right up until the last minute at the airport. Our plane was completely full for both legs of our trip!
We flew roundtrip on American Airlines from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) during the first week of October 2020. Facemasks are required while flying on American, except for children under 2 years old, and facemasks with exhaust valves or vents, or made with mesh or lace type fabric, are not allowed per the American Airlines website.
Over the years’ we have flown into and out of DCA many times and I have never seen it so empty! Face coverings are required for everyone at the airport – both employees and passengers.
All of the ticketing counters had plexiglass, and there are many hand sanitizer stations by the ticketing kiosks and throughout the airport.
At the TSA security checkpoint, all of the officers were wearing masks (some also with face shields) and gloves. They ask you to remove your facemask for ID verification then put it back on immediately. There are markers of where to stand in line for ticketing, through the TSA process and gate check-in (although largely ignored for boarding, to be honest).
There were only a couple of stores, coffee outlets, and newsstands open, and most were operating with modified hours. They all have markers on the floor for social distancing and plexiglass and hand sanitizer at the cash register.
American Airlines is still boarding from the front to the back of the airplane. There is no inflight beverage service, but as you board, each passenger was given a small snack bag with a sanitizer wipe, a small bottle of water, and a package of cookies. You can briefly remove your face covering to eat or drink, but you must put it back on when you’re finished. Prior to departure and also during the flight, an announcement was made that facemasks must be worn at all times (except during eating or drinking) and if you do not comply with the requirement, you may be banned from flying with the airline in the future. Flight attendants did check many times during the flight to ensure masks were being worn and worn correctly.
After disembarking at Dallas Fort Worth Airport, I was surprised how different it was compared to DCA – it was packed with people! Facemasks are required within the airport terminals, on the shuttle buses, and in the car rental facilities, there were hand sanitizer stations throughout both the terminal and car rental building.
How do I feel about this trip – I’m glad we went because I miss visiting with my children and was desperate to see my Grandbaby, but as someone in the high-risk group for Covid traveling I totally understand how right now traveling is not comfortable for everyone.
It’s also very important to remember that some states and countries have strict quarantine rules & travel restrictions in place due to COVID-19. And that these rules & restrictions are constantly changing!0