I flew from LA to Minneapolis to cover the George Floyd Memorial Service. It was a monumental experience, but the thought of getting on a plane in the age of Coronavirus is damn scary. Look, I fly a lot, but since this pandemic hit I have sat my butt at home. I have friends boarding planes daily; they send pictures and fill me in on the process. BUT until I flew commercial myself, it was going to be hard to get a feel for how things have evolved.
Now that I’m home, here are the ten things I learned flying during the age of Covid-19:
Where’s Your Mask?
I don’t know if it’s hubris or just stupidity, but a lot of people in the airport didn’t have on masks. They were all walking around like they were immune, and most waited until the last second, when they were boarding, to throw something over their mouths. But here’s the real shocker: a lot of the people with unprotected faces were older—folks over 50. The same group with the highest COVID-19 mortality rate.
There are no rules inside the terminal. It’s the wild wild west, and people can coverup or not.
Easy Breezy In and Out
LAX, under normal circumstances, is a nightmare to get into. The airport is usually jammed with people traveling internationally, and traffic is bumper-to-bumper. That was before COVID. Now, getting to your terminal is a walk in the park. No traffic, no crowds. I was able to get through security (TSA PreChek) with more than an hour to spare before boarding.
The Atmosphere is Tense as Hell
Flying used to be care-free. Even when it was crowded, the airport felt magical. Now you go in on 10, praying you can get to your destination without catching Coronavirus. Everybody is looking at everybody and evaluating masks or lack thereof. Is someone too close? Did I hear a cough? Does someone look sick? Gone are days of striking up a conversation with another traveler. I didn’t want to be near anybody – especially the people who didn’t have on a mask or.
Remember when your main worry flying was if the plane would crash? Well, now you’re likely to be way more worried about Coronavirus than turbulence. Every interaction with anything during your flight feels like life or death. Of course, a large part of that was just in my head.