Smile with your Eyes – Flying in the time of Covid

Air travel is slowly returning, and much has changed.  This past weekend, I flew for the first time in six months.  It was wonderful to be able to visit with family for a weekend, and the flying experience was much better than expected.

  • Masks, plexiglass, and floor markers were abundantly present. Every traveler and staff person wore a mask.  Plexiglass screens protected gate agents and TSA staff.  Floor markers reminded everyone to stay 6 feet apart – while standing in line at TSA, at the coffee shop, and when boarding the flight.
  • Shops and restaurants were open as usual. Easy to pick up a snack, magazine, or a meal before boarding my flight.  Restaurant seating was reduced, as you would expect.
  • The airport, the airplane and all restrooms were impressively clean.
  • In the gate waiting area, guests naturally social distanced to keep space between groups. There was plenty of space for everyone, although seats were not blocked.
  • Boarding the plane was from the rear of the airplane (instead of by zones). Guests did not queue up and create a crowd to board – they smartly kept apart.  Leaving the airplane was also orderly – the flight attendant announced the rows in order and guests remained seated until it was their turn.  No crowds in the aisles was very nice.
  • My flights were nearly full. The seats were two on each side and no seats were blocked.  Everyone kept to themselves and it was generally quiet.
  • During the flight, we each received a pre-packaged snack, which included bottled water, two snacks, and an anti-bac wipe. Soda and juices were available, but no food for purchase.  Everyone wore a mask throughout the flight – except while eating or drinking.

Much has changed with air travel, but much is also the same.  The positive and friendly attitudes shown by the gate attendants, the flight crew, the TSA and shop staff certainly help to put me at ease with the social distancing and mask requirements.  It was easy to see the smiles on their faces – I could see it in their eyes, and they were glad to be flying again, just like me.