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What was a cross country flight like?

Last week I met the family in Los Angeles to do the second leg of the trip back to New York. So why were we flying? We had been in New Zealand in February for a wedding and I had come back early for work, then we had to make the call for them to stay there.

Both ways were on United, each flight had social distancing in place, the first had two people per row – one each side of the aisle. The latter had the middle seat clear.

The plans smelt clean, we were handed hand towels. The terminals and security were all stress free with less people around. People kept distance at boarding.

For boarding they boarded the reverse of the plane first – and upon landing, only clearer a few rows at a time to get off. There were less people but it did feel like a better process which could be considered for future.

In each circumstance, it wasn’t the airline, it was our peers which make it or break it. If everyone else is applying social distancing and face masks, it feels safe. When they don’t, not so much.

On the first flight a group of people decided to take their masks off to talk.

For the flight back someone was wearing a full hazmat suit!

Each flight had multiple people with dogs. Which was fine.

What was it like doing it with kids? Hard work. But at least on the plane, your seat/row becomes your bubble, which provides some comfort. An overnight flight helped as at least they were tired and slept. Once you were in your seat, you settled in.

I took Via to the airport and Uber back. Via was great, driver wearing mask, had a plastic shield in the car providing separation. Uber was different, no shield but mask and disinfectant. In each case, opened the window to help keep air circulating.

As a family the limitation is that you need all the seats, so had to do UberXL, fortunately it had enough seats (i.e a 7 seater) but I know not all UberXls’ have that.

There was a long layover, so we hired a car from SilverCar rather than spending that time in the terminal. This worked well, letting us get food, explore a bit from the car.

Overall it went to plan, it was a hard decision but we figured that making the transit just before things opened up was probably the safest time period to do it.

Would I recommend it? No, if you don’t need to fly right now – don’t. But if you need to, you can safely with precautions, common sense and joint respect for others.

May 26th, 2020

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