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Saturday, January 22, 2022

What's Flying Like In A Pandemic?

Well, I did it. I finally got back on a plane. It had been 22 months since I did so, and I felt every day of that. Traveling is something that is a necessity in my life. Though we'd been doing Destination Date Nights, it only pushed off the wanderlust for so long. So, once we were all fully vaccinated and boosted, we booked a flight to Arizona to get away from the gross winter weather.

What's it like flying now that masks are mandatory? How has air travel changed with Covid? What should you be prepared for?

I had my doubts as to whether or not airlines would really enforce the mask rules, but I talked to several people on Twitter who travel for work and they all highly recommended Alaska Airlines, which is already my favorite airline, so I booked with them. I wasn't disappointed either. My favorite announcement from the pilot:

"You must wear your mask properly throughout the entire flight. Properly means over your nose and your mouth...at the same time. Once you are finished eating or drinking, you must put your mask back on. We are not doing this to make a political statement. It is for your safety. If this sounds too difficult for you, please let us know and we can get you off the plane and find you another way to get to your destination."

So, what's it like flying now that masks are mandatory? It's surprisingly fine. On the way there we didn't have seats together. Eric and my mom both ended up with aisle seats and a middle seat between them and the other person in their row. I sat in between two business guys who read their books the whole flight, but who were very friendly. Aside from the one taking his mask down to eat a sandwich, they both kept their masks on and didn't bother me.

We all sat together on the ride home and double-masked, only because there seemed to be quite a few people grumbling about flying with masks at the gate, and I actively heard some behind me talking about some anti-masker site that she was reading about and wanted to tell others about. We pulled our masks down to eat snacks, but kept them on in between bites, as requested. 

I always find the plane cold, so having a mask was nice for me. I only worried about the flight attendants being able to hear me when they came around asking if we wanted anything. Usually, you have speak loudly for them to hear you over the engine anyway, so it was about as annoying as it always is. 

The day after we came home, we made sure to test (I purchased at-home tests before we left) and then two days later, just in case. We knew we weren't sick before we traveled, but mostly only the tourists in Arizona were wearing masks wherever we went, unless it was enforced (literally nowhere), so we were being extra safe for family and my coworkers. You can still get tested for free and can make an appointment for when you return from your trip, but however you do it, testing should 100% be on the top of your to-do list. 

So, aside from masking and testing, travel is much the same as it was before, with the addition of social distancing when you can, bringing along hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes (which many of us were already doing), and having to contend with shorter open times when you get to your destination, waiting a little longer for service, and having to pay for most things with a credit or debit card - sometimes ahead of time, so you have a digital e-ticket to show. Planning ahead has never been more useful or necessary. 

Where will your next trip take you?

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