I had not been on a plane since Nov. 2019, and I was not quite expecting to be going on one this year due to COVID-19.
Traveling during a pandemic is not the safest thing due to the crowds in the airport. My family and I decided that we would fly because the 18 hour drive to Illinois wasn’t something we wanted to do.
I was not nervous to travel by air, and I was not sure what to expect. I imagined that people who decided it would be safe to travel would not care enough to wear masks or social distance, but I thought wrong. People were being very conscious of their surroundings and did their best to follow the rules and guidelines in place.
Airplane travel has decreased by 62% in 2020 compared to 2019, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. I didn’t expect the decrease to be as big as it is. I imagined that only a quarter of the people wouldn’t be there but to my surprise it was more than half.
There definitely weren’t as many people as there normally are. Atlanta-Hartsfield Airport seemed half empty compared to my last trip. Our plane was about one-third full. Out of the 192 seats, about 55 were occupied. The flight back to Georgia was even more empty than the flight to Illinois with only 35 of 150 seats occupied.
Like everything in 2020, traveling by plane has been modified to ensure safety among passengers and staff. Plexiglass barriers separated people in the security lines, and markings on the floor indicated where to stand.
In the airport, people took as many precautions as possible. The majority of people wore masks and attempted to social distance. A couple of people disregarded the mask policy or wore mesh masks that do not provide any protection.
I even heard a person ask someone behind them in line to put their mask on correctly and to step back to ensure their safety.
Delta required masks to be worn at all times,covering both mouth and nose. To ensure social distancing, the airline keeps middle seats and certain aisle seats vacant. Delta’s Coronavirus Travel FAQ on their website helped us be informed about what to expect ahead of time.
In the Atlanta-Hartsfield airport, the majority of the restaurants and little shops were open. However, in the Chicago O’Hare airport everything was closed. All the restaurants and shops were closed because they went on lockdown on Nov. 16 for the next 30 days.
The airlines require that passengers board from back to front, and that sanitizing wipes are distributed to use at your convenience.
During the flight, flight attendants didn’t come around with the normal cart of drinks and snacks. Instead it was replaced with a bin that contained individually packaged bags of crackers, a small water bottle, a napkin and a sanitizing wipe.
The changes weren’t a shock but the population of people was. I was quite expecting a lot of people to be traveling especially with it being Thanksgiving, but it was quite empty.
After seeing how things have been modified for safety I feel a lot safer about traveling by air and wouldn’t be scared if I had to do it again.