Today was my first time in an airport since November. I live in Northwest Arkansas, so our closest airport is XNA which isn’t a large airport so it tends to have fewer travelers than the major airports. It also means no direct flights to Orlando. So I will fly from XNA to Dallas. Dallas to Orlando. I did my online check-in the night before so that I could expedite my check-in process at the airport. I was able to select my seat and also save my boarding pass.
I wondered what it would feel like to walk into an airport again during these times and to get on an airplane.
My flight left XNA at 8:15 a.m. so I arrived at about 6:30. As I walked into the airport, I of course noticed signage everywhere reminding you that face coverings were required and reminders that if you had been sick you should not enter. I moved easily to the TSA checkpoint. The TSA line was really short and I was able to move through pretty quickly. When it was my turn, they asked for my ID and my boarding pass. After scanning my pass the officer asked me to take down my face mask so she could verify the photo. As I proceeded to the gate I continued to see a lot of reminders to social distance. At the gate, they had seats marked to encourage you to social distance while you waited.
When it was time to board, we scanned our own boarding passes, I didn’t see the gate agent taking anyone’s as they have done in the past. Once on the plane there really was not any social distancing. I flew American, so I cannot say if all airlines are operating the same, but I had people right beside me on my flight. Also due to the current circumstances they did not offer in flight snack and beverage services.
We landed in Dallas without any issues and I had a very short layover so I had to hurry to my gate. Again as we boarded we were asked to scan our own boarding passes. As I boarded, I was given a ziplock baggie with a small bottle of water, a package of cookies, and a sanitizing wipe.
The second plane was a little larger, but again no social distancing, and the flight was pretty full. While both flights were full, face masks were required the entire time and I never felt unsafe. I didn’t hear anybody coughing or sniffling and truly didn’t mind sitting right beside people.
Overall, today wasn’t much different than the dozens of times I have been in airports over my lifetime. Other than being reminded to social distance and wear face masks, it was a very similar experience. I felt safe and like all the precautions that needed to be taken were being done.
As always, I know that so many people have different feelings about what is safe and what they are comfortable with. Each person has to make that decision for themselves and for their family. When you are ready to travel again, please know that I am here, ready to help you navigate the travel planning process.