Ever since the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, all air travel has come to a staggering halt. Fewer and fewer people are purchasing plane tickets, packing their luggage, and setting out on new world adventures. Various airlines are slashing prices here and there to stabilize their business, and while an extremely cheap ticket to your dream destination might seem like a once in a lifetime opportunity, here are some things you should know before boarding a plane in the midst of a pandemic.
I currently attend college at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, yet hail from Southern California. Following the spring 2020 semester, I returned home and recently traveled back to Hawaii for the upcoming fall semester. My flights were aboard Delta and Hawaiian Airlines.
1. A new look at airport terminals
Airport staff are constantly working hard to keep areas clean and disinfected to stop the spread of COVID-19. This can mean a number of things, such as wiping down highly touched areas more than usual, blocking off certain seats in terminals, and temporary closure of souvenir shops.
2. More wiggle room
While in the past, the smartest business idea was to sell every ticket and pack the plane, it's now the deadliest business strategy. Even though I'm a pretty small person, I still do enjoy the extra space I receive now that the airlines are required to seat people every other seat. I even got a whole row to myself recently! Gone are the days accidentally falling asleep on someone's shoulders.
3. You might feel like Hannibal Lecter
Another new rule many airlines introduced is that passengers are required to wear a face mask during the entire duration of the flight, except for when eating or drinking. This rule didn't quite bother me since I sleep the majority of my flights anyways, however, it's not the most ideal situation for flights longer than three hours. Additionally, it did make it harder to communicate to the flight attendant over the roaring sounds of the plane engines.
4. Suspended food and drink services
To reduce the amount of person to person contact, flight attendants pass out prepackaged snacks to passengers. Delta provided lovely little goodie bags filled with pretzels, a small bottle of water, a napkin, and a one-use package of hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes. While Hawaiian provided sandwiches, full bottles of water, plus other drinks.
5. Mandatory arrival procedures
This section mostly pertains to the state of Hawaii. Incoming travelers are met with several procedures they must follow when entering the beautiful Island State. After departing the aircraft, passengers have their temperatures taken, then requested to wait in a six-feet-apart line to turn in a "COVID-19 Travelers" form, which asks for general information as well as a place of quarantine, since Hawaii has a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all incoming travelers. Following the form turn-in, passengers are free to enjoy their stay, as long as they adhere to the mandatory quarantine rules. The government does call you every once in a while during the 14-day quarantine to ensure everyone is doing their part to stop this pandemic from getting worse.
While I do love having the wonderful opportunity to attend college out of state, nowadays I'm a little scared to board an airplane full of strangers that could potentially compromise my immune system, or worse, the other way around. Next time you want to jump at the chance to buy an inexpensive ticket and travel right now, consider the true value of that ticket versus your health.