Air travel establishes new procedures during the pandemic

Passengers+take+precautions+to+reduce+the+spread+of+COVID-19.

Courtesy of USA Today

Passengers take precautions to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Airports are arguably one of the most magical places in the world. The stark white walls, bustling feet, squeaky suitcase wheels, and constant announcements over the loudspeaker layer themselves to create an unrealistic atmosphere that makes you feel, well, unreal. If only it could take away with it the unsettling reality of the pandemic. What once used to be a gateway to a stress-free vacation for you to recharge your batteries has become a stress-fest that’ll drain you before you even get to your gate.

Regardless of everything, airplanes continue to fly and people continue to travel. Those that embarked on said airplanes to visit family, friends, or simply to be away from home, are currently quarantining for the safety of others. One can’t help but wonder, however, exactly how different flying is in the state the world is in now.

Gia Gupta (‘24) and Grant Yoon (‘23) both flew out of state this spring break with their families to enjoy a short vacation. Their experiences and concerns mirrored each other almost perfectly.

“My main concerns about the plane ride and airport in general before the trip was just ensuring that I was being safe and that I was trying to prevent myself from getting the virus, and consequently also trying to prevent it from reaching other people,” Gupta said.

Yoon had similar apprehensions, saying that his main concerns were more “from the airplane than actually being in California.”

Surprisingly, both were put more at ease the longer they spent in the airport, as they quickly came to realize that the rules that could be followed were being followed by everyone. Both did mention that social distancing was not happening as much as it should have, however, but due to the number of people that would’ve been inevitable.

“Overall, it met my expectations of how I wanted everything to go down. Everybody was sanitizing, wiping down all their seats, trying to stay apart from each other, wearing masks, and even wearing different shields,” Gupta replied when asked about how safe she felt.

Yoon answered with a similar gist, but he found some more comfort in the statistics. “The cases in New Jersey aren’t that high, [so] the chances of someone having COVID and having their mask off and me also having my N-95 is off is pretty low, so I wasn’t too concerned,” he said.

Once they boarded their planes, however, they realized that things were a bit different.

“During our plane ride, the middle seats weren’t empty. All the seats were occupied.” Gupta went on to explain that she wasn’t as wary about COVID on the majority of her flights as she was with her siblings, but there was a flight in which she and her siblings sat with strangers.

Yoon had, once again, a very similar experience as Gupta. He had a packed flight and had to sit with strangers, and masks were kept on unless they were eating a snack.

The sophomore went on to rip a band-aid, saying “They’re not going to leave seats open in airplanes, they want money. Those companies want money. So my plane was almost completely full, I didn’t see any empty seats.”

But it all worked out in the end, because as evident by the number of people in Gupta and Yoon’s planes, people want to travel as badly as those companies want their money. Until the day when you don’t have to worry about a virus taking a hold of your life on your way to relaxation, hold on tight to those masks!