My birthday, in May, was intended to be celebrated with a vacation to California. Along with some friends, I had scheduled a trip to Los Angeles for RuPaul’s Drag.con. Following that event, we were going to take a train ride down the coast to San Diego. Then Covid hit and the convention was cancelled. So, like many of you, I’ve got several vouchers piling up to use when this pandemic passes.
Last month, my friends and I talked about taking a last minute trip to Denver to go see the other friend that was coming to the cancelled California trip. Originally this was going to be a road trip, so I agreed heartily. Eventually though, it made more sense to fly. The driving would have used up a good portion of the long weekend and also, airline tickets were very cheap.
Not completely comfortable with the idea of flying, I was biding my time till we left. I had made up my mind that if I was still feeling uneasy, I would just bow out of the trip and lose the money I had invested.
However, the drudgery, melancholy and other emotions that come from being held captive by a pandemic steadily increased to the point of outweighing the risk I would be taking by flying. I decided for my mental health, I needed to get out of town.
Let me stop here and emphasize that the CDC recommends that you DO NOT take the risk to fly during the pandemic. Due to the nature of traveling, you are in close proximity to other people.
So, by all means, I’m not recommending flying during the pandemic if you don’t need to. I did take the risk, that was my choice, and I’m sharing my experience in flying with you to educate. If you do decide to fly, take every precaution you can throughout your entire trip to protect yourself.
The CDC website, after going through a list of things to consider before flying, states the following:
“Air travel requires spending time in security lines and airport terminals, which can bring you in close contact with other people and frequently touched surfaces. Most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes. However, social distancing is difficult on crowded flights, and sitting within 6 feet of others, sometimes for hours, may increase your risk of getting COVID-19.”
So I loaded my carryon and purse with hand sanitizer, nasal spray and several masks, and off I went.
In the airport:
There were definitely less people in both the Dallas-Fort Worth and Denver airports. Lines were minimal. You are required to keep your mask on at all times while in the airport unless you are eating. Tables are marked to leave seats in between to properly social distance.
We flew Southwest. Normally, they line passengers up in sections to board, but now they call out ten rows at a time. Until your seat is called, you were to remain distanced from each other in the terminal waiting area.
Right before boarding, I took the opportunity to use the nasal spray. Saline spray keeps your mucus membranes in your nose moist and this helps stave off infections. The theory being this supplies an extra layer of protection against the virus getting in your nose. I don’t know if there is any real evidence this works, but what the hell, right?
On the plane:
Everyone was seated with one empty seat between them. Granted, this is not keeping people 6 feet apart, but it’s something. If you are traveling with others and want to sit together, you certainly can do that, but otherwise, they made sure there was a seat in between.
The CDC website mentioned that the way planes filter and circulate air, it cuts down on the virus spreading. Most airlines have increased the frequency of these procedures in another attempt to keep passengers safe.
Masks are required to be on throughout the entire flight unless eating or drinking. I simply pulled it down to take a sip of water, and then put it right back in place. They are still giving snacks on flights, but my friends and I threw them in our purse to eat later rather than eat them on the plane.
So, I can assure you that the airlines are taking COVID seriously. That being said, of course, you will run into people just hell bent on not complying. There was definitely a difference between people in the Denver airport and the Dallas-Fort Worth airport. I failed to see anyone in Denver without a mask. Can’t say the same for DFW.
Throughout our trip we wore our masks and used hand sanitizer constantly. The trip was a welcomed break, and I came back refreshed and ready to get back to the grind.
Again, I wrote this not to recommend that people fly during this time. But if your sanity needs it or you absolutely have to for some reason, I hope it will ease your anxiety somewhat. Plan ahead, be informed and take every precaution that you can.
Remember, that wearing a mask protects you, but more importantly protects others from catching the virus and getting sick. I don’t see it as a violation of anyone’s freedom. I see it as being a responsible person who cares about other people’s well being.
Wear your mask!