Flying during a pandemic

Published 8:20 pm Tuesday, July 7, 2020

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In the midst of the pandemic, I’m not sure anything has worried me more than getting on an airplane. Like many of you reading this, our family had planned a vacation this summer, and our plans have changed numerous times.  

When the number of cases locally started to rise in March, we scrapped those plans. But as case numbers began to flatten out, we decided to reschedule our plans and purchased airline tickets for Colorado during the week of the Fourth of July. Of course, right after we bought tickets, we watched the number of COVID-19 cases skyrocket in Troup County.

That left us with many questions.

How were we going to get through the airport without being exposed? And most importantly, how were we going to get our kids — one who turns 3 today, and a 1-year-old — through the airport without them touching all over everything? Would people think we were crazy?

As it turns out, we actually had little to worry about. I know many of you probably have fears of flying right now, so I thought sharing our experience might help you determine how to handle your own plans. It took less than five minutes to get through security at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. We flew out on a Tuesday night, and the airport wasn’t crowded at all. You couldn’t really throw a rock without hitting a hand sanitizer station. 

Everyone in the Delta terminal had to wear a face mask, as did all the passengers on the flight. My 3-year-old even wore a mask. We made it fun. 

With small children, we would’ve been among the first on board regardless, but we also had the last rows on the plane, and they were boarding back to front. As soon as we walked onto the plane, we were given wipes to clean our seats, seat belts and anything else we might come into contact with.

The middle seats were blocked out, so for the four of us we had two rows. 

During the flight, flight attendants passed our snacks in individual Ziploc bags. Rather than asking if you wanted a Coke or Sprite, they walked around handing every passenger one of the unopened bags. Inside was water and a snack or two. Arriving in Denver late Tuesday night Mountain Time, the airport was almost like a ghost town, so we had no issues there.

It was busier heading back on Sunday, the day after the Fourth of July. However, everyone was wearing a mask, and we felt comfortable and relatively unexposed to the virus.

Before anyone asks, any time we were in public on our trip, we wore a mask in Colorado. We were careful during family get-togethers — as we hope everyone was this past weekend — just in case one of us was asymptomatic. Our entire flying experience was much smoother than I thought it would be, although the passengers around us probably wished our kids wouldn’t have cried most of the flight.  

We would fly again, if we needed to, and feel comfortable. But we also took every precaution, and then some, to ensure we had as little exposure as possible to COVID-19. We used hand sanitizer at nearly every station, wiped everything down in our seats and wore masks the entire time at the airport and on the flight. I’d recommend anyone traveling anywhere to do the same.