How To: Traveling during COVID-19
Updated: Jul 8
As many states are starting to open up and the weather is slowly getting nicer, many people are starting to consider whether or not summer travel is a possibility during this COVID_19 era. Certainly summer plans this summer will look different, but does that mean they have to be cancelled entirely?
You might know that in the fall I will be relocating to the city of Boston to begin my Ph.D. program. I had been prepared to move without actually getting to lay eyes on my future apartment, but I recently had the opportunity to tour the home before signing my lease. It was an opportunity too good to pass up! So, I hopped on a plane for a day trip to the Bay State. For those of you wondering what it's like to be traveling right now read on for all the details on my trip...
I typically like to arrive to the airport two hours prior to my flight. I like having time to get through security, get food if necessary, and find my gate. Given that I'm not always a morning person though, I was running a bit late for this particular trip. I got to the airport around 6:40 for my 8:20am flight. Since I'm typically used to flying out of BWI (an international airport) I'm used to the crowds and lines. That was not the case during COVID-19. In fact, Southwest had closed two of their three gates to get through security.
The security process was pretty standard and expected. The guard did have a glass screen up. He scanned the ticket on my phone and took my ID. He had me pull down my mask to confirm that my identity matched my ID but then the mask went back on. Then, I went through the standard process of scanning your belongings. I did keep my mask and gloves on during this time. All in all, I was entirely through security in about three minutes.
When walking through the airport you notice that the frivolous stores (makeup, clothing, luggage, etc) are all shut down. There were still some food chains and tourist shops open to get a coffee or t-shirt though. I personally stopped to grab a bag of mango chips and a water on my way to the gate #glutenfreelife.
I arrived to my gate at around 7:05. This was about an hour before boarding. Now, when I tell you I was alone... I mean it. There was no one at my gate, the gate next to it, or the gate across from it. I was utterly, and totally alone. Talk about eerie.
Fast forward about an hour and 19 other passengers and I boarded a 737 outfitted for 175 passengers. It was probably about as close as I'll get to a private plane in my life. Having so much space to spread out was certainly enjoyable, as was the privacy of not having people in front of or behind me. We were in the air 20 minutes early. While flying, Southwest had a modified food and beverage service and offered their typical snacks and canned water. Something to note is you will have to wear your mask for the entire flight. This isn't too surprising, but I did have my makeup melt in the area around my nose so you might want to pack stuff for touch ups in your carryon.
After landing early, I embarked on my day in Boston. I won't digress too much here other than to say how much I love my new city and can't wait to share my favorite new bakeries and coffee shops with you all in the Fall.
I arrived back to Logan for my trip home at 4:15 that same day. The security process was just as quick as the morning so I set out to stop and grab some dinner. This is where there was one very notable difference between normal travel! All the shops closed down at 4:00. That means all the food, coffee, touristy, and convenience shops were closed and your girl hadn't had dinner yet. I roamed angrily through the airport until I stumbled across a lone Dunkin Donuts where I could grab some water and hash browns. So much for that gluten free life!
My flight home was similar in size and set-up. We did leave and land early just like in the morning. In fact, we landed a whole hour early! Because of this, there wasn't a gate open for us at BWI so we did have to wait a half hour before being able to get off. This didn't bother me too much, but there was an infuriated lady behind me who launched into a fury of expletives and "this is ridiculous!" remarks. Don't be this lady. Nobody likes this lady.
All in all, I honestly felt safer on the plane than I do in most grocery stores. There weren't too many people on the planes, everyone wore their masks, and the process was easier than normal. If you are going to travel follow my tips below:
Be aware that the security process may be quicker than you're normally accustomed to.
Pack makeup for touchups underneath your mask.
Pack a sturdy mask, mine did start to rip after I pulled it down for security.
Be conscientious about frequently washing your hands and using hand sanitizer.
Pack snacks or eat before arriving to the airport.
Be aware that your flight might land early... but you might have to wait for a gate to become available because of that.
Take time to thank your pilots and flight attendants who are working extra hard!
Until next time...