We have all seen the pictures on the news and social media of empty airports, social distancing on planes and even some packed flights. All airlines have come out with guidelines, but don’t assume they are following the same rules! After reading through some of the guidelines, passengers may have varied travel experiences based on how an airline is choosing to state their guidelines.
Between United, American and Delta Airlines, Delta has taken a more direct/firm approach (which is why we are not seeing Delta shamed on social media). American Airlines states “We’re restricting access to some seats, when possible, to give more space.” United Airlines states “While we cannot guarantee that all customers will be seated next to an unoccupied seat, based on historically low travel demand and the implementation of various social distancing measures, that is the likely outcome.” What do these 2 statements even mean? Seriously!! It means absolutely nothing!
Delta, on the other hand, states a more clear plan...Blocking select window & aisle seats in all cabins with 1x2, 2x2, and 2x3 seating, all middle seats are blocked from sale on all flights, 50% max capacity in 1st class and 60% max capacity in all other cabins. See links at the bottom to each airline's guidelines.
Call me crazy, but I can’t help be curious about what it is like to fly right now. I was able to get the inside scoop from an acquaintance of mine that was on a flight this week. Based on their experience, Delta is indeed following strict guidelines. If you find yourself on a plane sometime over the next few months, you will probably feel like my friend…”it was like stepping into the Twilight Zone”. Almost empty airports, face masks everywhere, an eerie quietness, an airplane that smells like the inside of a clorox wipe container…just an overall strange experience!
On the positive side, the cleaning measures taken created some comfort. Wipes were given at the gate and again as passengers were boarding the flight. The snacks were distributed in a clear plastic bag for each customer. United, American and Delta seem to be taking cleaning measures very seriously. My guess is we will see these measures continue even after travel resumes. Roger Dow, U.S. Travel Association President and CEO, said in a recent press release, “As travel reopens, travelers need the confidence that safety measures are in place from their departure to their return home.”
Another positive is how quickly you can get through the airport, but we all know this will change. Just like 9/11 brought about changes to the airport and travel experience, Covid-19 will do the same. TSA was created in direct response to 9/11, two months after the attacks. Remember the good ‘ol days when you could greet your loved ones at the gate or you never took your shoes off...not after 9/11! We will likely begin to hear of new changes this summer/fall. A regional website owned by The Boston Globe, Boston.com, posted an interesting article earlier this week titled “5 Ways Flying Could Change In The Future”. We may walk through a disinfectant tunnel...really??
Even with all of the potential changes, I still continue to dream about future travels with my family and friends. We will get back to exploring the world one day when it is safe to do so!