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Flying is usually pretty nerve-wracking for me, as I always worry that I’ve forgotten something that I may need on my trip. Add in that this was not a short trip but moving to a new country to live with only 2 suitcases for 2 months. And on top of that, this little thing called Covid-19, don’t know if you’ve heard about it (oh the sarcasm)? All that put together made me absolutely terrified to fly! I think most of you would agree.  

AIRPORTS

I actually didn’t feel as unsafe as I thought I would have travelling. The airports were fairly empty. You can see my experience about travelling before borders closed here.

To enter Bogotá’s airport, I had to complete the local app for tracking covid-19 called “Coronapp” which asks about symptoms then you get a barcode to scan upon entry. Then of course is temperature taking and hand sanitisation. Once in the line to check in, we were told to complete a form online at Migracion Colombia which tracked your specific flight information. I thought this would’ve been asked for at the check-in counter but never actually used it. Bogotá airport was very empty and there were not many flights even taking off, far less landing. Usually there’s a runway delay of half an hour but the plane just had a little joy ride around the airport to get to the gate, and we took off.

Dallas airport was empty when I arrived, on the skylink, and at the gate. However, people slowly started gathering closer to flight time of course. As it was about 7am, a lot of people took off their masks to eat breakfast. Here I felt most uncomfortable because I wanted to do the same and eat as well. I’d just had a 6-hour flight without eating anything for safety sake, please let me have my breakfast. I moved away from everyone to eat.  

By the time we reached the runway, that’s where the traffic was. Soooo! Mannyyyy! Planeeesss! I’m not sure how busy it usually is but there was a line of 5 flights which our plane overtook, sorry guys. There may have been more in the fast lane like my plane. And as one took off, another landed…would have made a terrifyingly amazing time-lapse. 

CHECKING-IN

Checking in at Bogota was a breeze, everyone stayed far apart and it felt normal. I think it really makes a difference what country you’re in and how seriously people take covid-19 (also guided by the leadership but hold your horses this ain’t a political blog). Anything you do within the city, people are pretty much very adherent to the requirements of mask wearing and social distancing. However, not everyone is that diligent. Due to a connecting flight, I didn’t have to check-in at Dallas fortunately.  

BOARDING

No protocols like temperature or hand sanitisation was done before boarding. On the first flight, they made me throw away my water before boarding…yes right before boarding, even though I had already checked in and scanned my bags. Then when I got on the plane, they gave each passenger a Ziploc bag with a water, cookies, and a hand wipe. People respected the 2 meter distance rule right up to the door of the plane, after that everyone was jammed together as usual to get to their seat. The second flight, it was just the wipe. Usually the front of the plane is a good spot however, with everyone crammed in, there was a big crowd right by my seat that I was not too pleased with.

JOURNEY

On the first flight, the flight attendants sat on the empty seats around us. They talked a lot! Thank goodness for headphones! Even though I could still hear them. To be fair, planes are really loud! So of course, to have a conversation they’d have to speak even louder.

Also it was a 6-hour very cold flight so there was one very unhappy passenger who expected a blanket that he didn’t get. No, it wasn’t a child. But really, you want to reuse a blanket that someone else just used in covid times? Well you are using the same chair anyway. Also, I didn’t notice crew members or even passengers cleaning them before sitting. Fortunately, the one thing they gave me on both flights was a wipe to clean my seat. Even though, I was fully prepared to do that either with a wipe if it was leather or an alcohol spray if it was a softer material.

Fortunately for the second flight, it was only 2 hours long and very empty so there was only one air hostess. She sat quietly with her book and read. But she did cough a couple times!!! Anyone panicking? Imagine if someone coughs around you now, we’re going to be so paranoid!

Anyway back to a positive point of the flight, because it was so empty, I jumped across to the next side to get myself a window seat…win! I don’t know how you feel about window seats, it’s an absolute favourite of mine!!!! I absolutely love watching the clouds and the sea. There’s just something so magical about it. Do you wanna see my million cloud pictures? Ok, maybe just one? Alsooo it had been raining in Bogotá for the past week so I was super excited to see the sun and take in all its warmth! I wasn’t wearing sunblock…and I was flying so I was much closer to the sun than when on earth. If you don’t hear from me again, the sun burnt me!

SCANNING

I was worried about scanning items because I always think the trays are beyond disgusting, so worse yet when there’s a virus on the loose. Honestly, Bogotá airport was amazing. There was a disinfection machine!!! Can you hear my excitement?! So impressive! They put each tray through before you put your items into it. I wish I could’ve taken a picture, but I’d probably have been arrested. My “intermediate” level of Spanish and crying, probably wouldn’t have saved me either. I wish all airports had that on a regular basis. Dallas had nothing like this, and the trays looked their usual disgusting. Honestly, I even forgot about that and I’m writing this on the plane, wearing my jacket that I threw in the tray. Good thing for my wipe upon entry to the plane (I hope my sarcasm comes through in this point). 

IMMIGRATION LINES

At immigration in Dallas, there were people as usual directing passengers where to line up. They reminded people to keep their distance so that was easy enough. However they didn’t take our temperatures or ask us to sanitise at any point. The second set of immigration lines at Monterrey was again pretty empty again. However, they didn’t give forms to fill out on the plane so it was silly to have to stand there filling out a form. This I could’ve done while waiting on a plane for 2 hours!

SUITCASES

Fortunately, I didn’t have to get my suitcases for the connecting flight (or so I’d thought. But we’ll have another blog for that story though). So just had to pick them up upon arrival in Monterrey. You don’t realise just howww many people have touched your suitcase…so many hands! So many germs!

When I got my suitcase, of course, I was the lucky one to have them checked. They were scanned first and then hand checked. I had to open all suitcases and the officials took their bare, unwashed hands and started digging through. So gross! How was I going to clean everything inside. I already planned to spray the outside with disinfectant once at the hotel. Would I now have to spray everything in my suitcase? To me that was as bad as it could get because they touched every single thing I owned. The horror!

END OF JOURNEY

Finally leaving Monterrey International Airport after such a long day of flying, yet I still could not take off my mask. Maybe for some lucky enough to have their own car at the end of a journey, this would be the end of their mask journey. However, I had to keep mine on in the taxi back to the hotel. Then finally at the hotel room, somewhere still not mine, that was supposedly my new safe space. Off the mask came! I could breathe again!  

Even though my first choice would have been to fly through Miami as there is no direct flight from Bogotá to Monterrey. My second choice was to fly through Panama but they had just opened back when I looked for flights. So they did not have a direct route to the destination. I guess my third choice that I got wasn’t so bad.

Overall, I’m super happy that I did not have to go through Mexico City which would have had absolutely no protocols, an overnight layover, and packeddd airport. Everyone who passed through said it was a horrible experience! And two people even tested positive for COVID-19 after going through there. I mean, I can say I’m happy about my experience now…wait a few days till I have my covid-19 test….then wait a few more till I get results, then I know if it was all worth it. Wish me luck!

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24 thoughts on “Flying During COVID-19

  1. Sounds stressful for you – I’m glad it all worked out fine! I traveled cross country in October and actually felt fine, but I think it’s the fear of the unknown…literally not knowing who has it and who doesn’t…that makes it so stressful. Wash your hands, wear your mask and keep your distance! 🙂

  2. I haven’t travelled on a plane since July so it’s interesting to read how things have changed at airports since then! Great that you had no one sitting next to you – my flight was packed full.

  3. I am usually a frequent flyer (80+ flights a year), but haven’t boarded a flight since early March last year. Not quite sure how I would feel about flying at the moment. I guess at some point I will have to again (and I long for travels, so sooner rather than later would be great). So thank you for sharing your experience in such great detail.

  4. I haven’t flown since the pandemic but certainly seems like it is a more pleasurable experience than being packed like sardines as used to be the case. I used to fly 50 + times a year because of work and loathed it (was as bad as sitting in a traffic jam!) however I now can’t wait to look out an aircraft window again!

  5. Love hearing about other’s experiences while traveling during the pandemic! I flew twice in June within the continental US and it was better than I expected!

  6. Such an insanely useful guide. I have not traveled much during this time, so this is very helpful. Thank you for putting this togther.

    Stay safe!

  7. I flew during covid as well and I didn’t feel very safe. Passengers weren’t maintaining the distance, and there was no testing either.

  8. We are flying out during Christmas and could use some tips. Thanks for sharing your detailed experience.

    Best,
    Lekha

  9. I haven’t flown since March because I’m nervous about flying. But, reading your post makes me feel better! This is great insight for people like me who are apprehensive about flying.

  10. Lovely to read this! I am preparing to fly with overlay next Saturday and getting quite nervous about it all! It seems as there is was pretty simple and safe, so I hope UK is too! Thanks for sharing

  11. I feel safe flying during these times . However , I only use carry on to eliminate hands on my suitcase. I also travel with sanitizer and disinfecting wipes and masks.

  12. Flying is definitely interesting these days! I’ve flown a lot domestically in 2020, bit not yet internationally…hopefully, maybe, in 2021. Glad you made it safely!

  13. I have flown domestically this year and that was a little nerve wracking but haven’t made an international flight since last year. I’m always interested to hear how it was for people and the different experiences. The same thing is that it is often very quiet, especially compared to the usual busy nature of airports

  14. I will be (theoretically) flying for the first time since the pandemic started in just a week or so. Unfortunately, I had to go with an airline that has a bad reputation for spacing out customers, so I am not too jazzed. In any case, your post is really helpful. I don’t feel quite as worried.

    1. Good luck with your flight, Aireona! At least you can still try to keep your distance to those in front and keep your suitcase behind you to block people from coming too close behind. I was definitely more worried than I had to be.

  15. Thank you for sharing your experience! I have been wondering how the flight process was now since I have not flown at all since COVID hit. I would not have liked the hand checking the bag either! They didn’t even wear gloves??

    1. Hi Sarah! Exactly, no kind of sanitisation or protection!!! To be honest, I don’t know how much gloves would have helped either since I’m sure they wouldn’t have been changed for a while anyway! Still makes me cringe.

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