Smart thinking can help you fly through the pandemic

It’s been almost two years since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic changed the travel lifestyle around the world. 

Countries shut down their borders, some allowing no one in and no one out, some allowing only citizens to return, but under strict guidelines. 

How can we forget the photos of multiple airplanes parked on the runway?

Fast forward to late spring 2021, borders begin to open and airports see an increase of passengers leaving and arriving for both domestic and international travel. But you may ask yourself, how is traveling through an airport and on an airplane considered safe?   

In the beginning of all the restrictions, all airlines booked with limited capacity that included middle seats left open so strangers weren’t sat closely together. 

As travel picked back up, planes began filling to capacity. 

However per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, masks are required to be worn at all times on both the plane and inside airports. 

Not to worry, there is plenty of signage and announcements reminding everyone to wear their masks. Social distancing inside the airport is still in place as well with modified boarding procedures.

Personally, on my last trip away from home before the shut down, I spent a week in New Orleans for Mardi Gras. During the transit there, COVID-19 cases were still very low in the USA, yet there were people starting to wear masks in the airports. 

While I was in transit home is when the first case in Oregon was reported. At the time, I had no idea the impact coming my way as I had at least three big trips planned for 2020. 

Little did I know, it wouldn’t be until May of 2021 until I would be inside an airport, ready to depart Oregon again. Since that trip I have taken a total of three round trips from Portland International Airport to Phoenix, Las Vegas and Miami, with trip number four down to Long Beach, California, just around the corner to finish off the year

 Below, I thought of some tips and tricks on how to travel safely and efficiently during these times:

  • Be prepared to deal with pre-pandemic crowds and lines during popular travel times. While it can be intense, the lines move quickly and TSA agents make sure masks are being worn.
  • Download your airlines mobile app for contact less tickets.
  • I personally recommend wearing surgical masks instead of cloth ones. Not only are they easier to change out, but it makes for a more comfortable experience as they can collect a lot of moisture during flight. 
  • Bring your refillable water bottle so you can have a large amount of water on hand without paying the airport pricing
  • On the subject of beverages, airlines have cut down on the amount of offerings for inflight beverages. Southwest airlines, for example, only offers Coca Cola, Diet Coke, Sprite, water and coffee. If you desire a certain drink, we recommend grabbing one before boarding. Also to note, alcoholic beverages are also not currently being served on board some airlines.
  • Stay vigilant while going through TSA checkpoints; each airport and even each trip is different, from  everything out of your bag to leaving your shoes on and taking nothing out of your bag. 
  • If you are traveling internationally, make sure to review all the requirements for the country you are planning to arrive in, from vaccine and testing requirements, possible quarantine needs, to health visas and pre travel/arrival questions to make sure you are properly prepared and don’t deal with any difficulties 

Most importantly, if you still don’t feel safe to be around crowds, don’t feel pressured to do something you aren’t ready for. Road trips are still a very good alternative for those who wish to go somewhere.

Katie Skibba