July 2020. Are you one of those people who are terrified of flying during this pandemic? I admit, I was very concerned and a little nervous. But I am so happy that we decided to proceed and go on with our trip anyway. We flew during the fourth of July holiday week and here is a recap of what my first flying experience since the pandemic was like. Note: I have since flown and had positive experiences. July 2021. Please check your destination for the latest Covid19 protocols.
Caronavirus Affects On Airline Industry
The travel industry has been severally affected by the corona virus outbreak over the last several months. Airlines flight schedules and capacity have been cut dramatically, but some airlines are slowly improving. According to OAG, an online recovery tracker website, have taken measurements of scheduled flights from last year and compared them to flights of the same time in 2020.
As things start to improve with the economy and the world begins to open up, people are cautiously getting back to their lives. Travel is on the minds of many folks out there, including me. However, travel isn’t the only thing on my mind. I haven’t seen my family in nearly a year. Moreover, after attending an online memorial funeral for my Aunt J.S. in June, I was even more determined to see my family and parents again soon. This is why we planned a trip to North and South Dakota recently.
Scheduling A Flight
I did my research looking for airlines, flights and schedules and purposely chose to fly out of a small regional airport in Sanford, Florida. Allegiant Airlines offers straight flights with no layovers from city to city, so I thought this would offer less exposure to strangers. Additionally, we might be passing through a busy airport to change planes and around more people, etc. We found an affordable ticket price, booked it, and proceeded to plan for our departure flight.
Travel Plans During Covid19
Planning for travel during a contagious virus pandemic can be challenging. However, if you make a list and execute your due diligence, you will be just fine. So, I purchased our tickets on Allegiant Air, and I purposely chose available seats away from others as well as keeping the middle seat open. Unfortunately, Allegiant is selling the middle seat. At the time of online check in, I noticed no open seats around us, so I upgraded to a row where I saw the middle seat was open according to their website chart. At this stage, I felt ready to go and thinking we are safe with at least an open middle seat between my husband and I.
Airport Road Trip
Since the Sanford airport is located about 140 miles from us, we essentially take a road trip prior to arriving at this airport. SFB is a great airport being that it is smaller and less populated. This means less stressful overall and few people to encounter, hopefully. We proceed to park our vehicle in the parking lot at the cost of $14 a day, which is a bit extreme for how small this airport is.
Sanford is a small suburb located just outside of Orlando that consists of about 53,570 population. This airport is primarily home to Allegiant Airlines and a few other aircraft companies. Departing from this airport is much more pleasant to deal with than the larger airports such as Orlando or Tampa, with respect to Florida.
Anyway, we enter the airport with our bags and boarding passes after donning our masks. We stand in a short line to check our bags, with plenty of distance between each customer. We proceed to the counter and the agent confirmed with us that we will wear our masks for the duration of the flight. Again, I feel confident that things will be clean, safe, and able to maintain a reasonable distance while on the airplane.
Now having been informed and confirming our agreement with the airline staff to wear masks for the entire flight time apparently doesn’t apply to everyone on this flight. As we are boarding, I notice several folks not wearing masks. Additionally, most of the people are sitting in the back of the plane. All the while there are several empty rows of seats in the middle of the plane. To say the least, I became upset and very disappointed.
Flight Experience and Reality
I am thankful to have had an N-95 mask, extra sanitized wipes, and hand sanitizer. Prior to sitting in our seats, I performed my own safety precautions. First, I wiped down our complete seating area including:
* All three seats; the chair and the backs and headrest areas
*The arm rests
*Tray table and small handle
So, I feel we are okay and safe as the flight departs the gate and proceeds for takeoff. As a precaution, we did not get up to use restroom; we did not drink or eat anything while on the plane.
We Made It!
After three and half hours, we finally reached our destination and disembarked the airplane. Our destination airport is similar in size as the one we departed from in Florida. My brother picked us up, as I wanted us to wait a while until we see my parents for safety; (my parents usually pick us up when we come to visit).
Our visit to the Dakotas was amazing as we enjoyed spending time with my parents, brothers and sisters. We also made time for an awesome road trip to the Black Hills of South Dakota. A blog post is coming soon detailing this incredible trip to Mount Rushmore, and a few stops in some pretty cool small towns! The time went way too fast as it usually does when you are enjoying yourself. Sadly, it was time to leave and return home.
Our flight experience home seemed to be much better and more comfortable. The airplane was less full then our departure flight, an empty middle seat, and had an early landing on our return to Sanford. Overall, flying on Allegiant Airlines was a nice experience. They offer reasonable prices as well as Allegiant Honors program that we took advantage of. One of the benefits of this program is the option to check luggage at no charge. If you are a military veteran, retired or active; you may wish to learn more about this program.
Prior to making the plans and arrangements for our trip to see my family, we had serious hesitations. The cases in Florida were going up like crazy, and we felt very concerned for the safety of my parents and family. We discussed whether we should go or not, so we asked my family how they felt about us coming to visit. Of course, the response is, “Yes, please come, we want to see you! We miss you,” says my mom. So, we are very thankful and happy we decided to go. We did everything we possibly could to take precaution for the safety and wellness of everyone around us. As well as abide by both Dakota states’ Covid19 protocols and regulations. Thankfully, everything worked out pretty well.