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I had just about enough, and the price was right, better than right! I told my husband I was going to book a flight to go see my mother for a week. His reaction, in his typical supportive way, was “See ya!” I pulled the trigger and here I am sitting at an almost empty airport. I wanted to give a firsthand account of this experience, so my clients know what is coming at them, if and when they choose to fly.
Let’s start with the booking process. That was normal as I used our agency booking platform to make this purchase. I choose to book my flights on Delta, one of my favorite travel partners, and booked a basic economy seat. I figured the chances of having a seat in between me and another person are good with their current no middle seat policy, so why worry about my seat at this time. I would rather not spend the extra on upgrading my seat since it was just me traveling.
After booking I received my confirmation and then later that day an email directly from Delta that clearly had the new travel policies regarding face coverings during travel. No testing is required to fly domestically at this moment, and I hope that is something they do not ever start.
The day prior to my flight I completed my online check in. Everything was the same as usual except you need to complete a new page with Delta. The page is titled The Standard for Safer Travel and they display Delta’s commitment to you and then ask that you check off three commitments in return to them. The commitments are the following:
I could not proceed without checking these off. I also purchased my check bag at that time and prior to completion another pop-up came up with the face-mask advisory at the airport as they are following the CDC guidelines. If you are not clear at this point you will need to wear a face mask from the time of arrival at the airport to the time you depart the airport at your destination.
Upon arrival the next day I don my homemade mask and walk right into the airport. Ready to go! Side note, I wore the blue medical masks and the white heavy cloth masks that have been given out, but I seem to get more headaches wearing those. So, I tried making my own. I used quilting squares that I had laying around and got that old sewing machine up and running and within one hour I had a stylish new mask. A little bit of color and no headaches.
Ok back to the airport, I was ready to take on this beast of flying…turns out no one was around. First time I have ever walked into an airport and walked up to the airline check in desk and had to find the one and only customer service representative working. It was very odd. I found a delightful service rep at the very end of the Delta check in under the one lit area. Once I got my bag checked in, I asked her if it always this way now. She said it is picking up, which I found a little funny seeing I was the only one there. She went on to say that they are now servicing more than five flights a day! Mind you this is at 11am and no one is around. But her attitude was wonderful and knowing how travel was in the past I am sure that these representatives are enjoying this quiet time. The downfall is the amount of jobs that have been laid off or hours adjusted in this industry.
I walked right through TSA check in and through security. Easy peasy. No other issues. It was disheartening that there were more TSA workers than travelers. The terminal in Columbus where Delta flies out of has a few restaurant options, but nothing was open. From the looks of it they have not been open at all. So, snacks it was for me! The normal airport sundries shop was open. Granola bar, water, and gum in hand I strolled to my gate.
As I sit here and type, I count no more than 30 people and of that at least 6 are crew. I am very bullish that travel is coming back, and I think that it is starting but the large amounts of travelers at airports is not happening. Now I do believe there were more travelers in the Southwest terminal to be fair, but I did not witness that area in Columbus.
I had a connection on my way down to Hilton Head Island in Atlanta. Atlanta was still Atlanta, busy. Have I seen more people in the airport? Yes, but every gate had travelers and the shops were all open in the larger terminals. Atlanta is a main hub for Delta, and I would assume all the main hubs would be the same around the country. I had to change to a different terminal for my connecting flight. This terminal probably was for those smaller flights to lesser traveled destinations. Many shops were not open here.
Overall, the flight experience was incredibly good. Upon boarding the plane, I was greeted as normal and in Columbus I was handed a small zip lock bag that included a small bottle of water, two Purell hand sanitizing wipes, a Biscoff cookie, and KIND bar. On my shorter flight I only received a Purell wipe. Neither flight had any more service from the flight attendants other than trash pick-up. I hope this changes, especially for those longer flights.
Of course, this is going to continue to evolve and change as we come out of this crisis. I know things are opening slowly and some of you are ready to travel. I hope this helps you in what you can expect when you do decide to fly again! –Leigh Ann Arnholt, Owner