I want to fly, but I just wouldn't do it right now.

I want to fly, but I just wouldn’t do it right now

There are many people right now questioning if it is safe to fly. It is a valid question, but I do not have the answer. For me personally, I have decided not to fly and I probably won’t be in the air for quite some time. Let me share some of my thoughts about the current situation, explain why I am not ready, and provide some advice for those who end up flying.

Mount Rainier, after take off

I miss seeing Mount Rainier from the air!

I love the airline business and it has pained me to watch the industry suffer. Hearing about the financial losses and seeing aircraft lined up in the desert is one thing, but employees losing their jobs is devastating.

For the most part, I think airlines and their employees have done an amazing job tackling this unprecedented situation. They have kept passengers informed on new safety procedures and have promoted the quality of the cabin air. No question this builds trust.

I am less worried about the airlines, but more concerned about the uptick in COVID, the other aspects of traveling, and most importantly: other passengers.

Alaska's new boarding lanes at Sea-Tac Airport. Photo: John Nguyen | Airline Reporter

There are many steps to get from your front door to the gate – Photo: John Nguyen

There are some aspects of travel that I don’t think people think about, like getting to the airport. Some passengers will drive and park on-site, but most will need to use some form of transportation: a ride share, taxi, bus, shuttle, subway, etc. Trying to juggle luggage, travel companions, and other travel-related gear can add to the complexity and increase your risk.

Upon arrival, you are likely to find that most airports are making great strides in trying to keep things sanitary, but it can become overwhelming. A large airport might have thousands of passengers, from around the world, roaming the halls at any given time. Personally, I know that after flying for 10-15 hours, my hygiene is not at 100%. I am also pretty exhausted, which makes me more careless to my surroundings.

Photo: Delta Air Lines

Wearing masks is not only a good thing — it is required – Photo: Delta Air Lines

Probably the biggest concern that I have are masks. I don’t care how you personally feel about them — you need to wear one. It is a requirement to travel; however, there are too many people who feel that they are above the rules and either choose not to wear them properly or not at all. I need to be able to build a stronger trust with the general flying public. I need to know that they will have my back, as I will have theirs.

Wanting to fly!

Other passengers are not my only worry. COVID cases are currently breaking new records daily. The increases are concerning enough that many officials are asking people to re-think their holiday plans and limit or even eliminate travel over the holidays. It is hard because even if someone is super careful over the holidays, you can’t trust that others will do the same.

NERDS! Jeremy and Jason welcome our plane back to YVR.

My last flights were on a few Beech 1900Ds in Canada in February 2020

Don’t get me wrong. I want to fly so badly right now. And not just so I can personally get back into the air, but so that I can start supporting the airline industry again. I genuinely feel bad for the many hardworking airline employees, who aren’t sure what tomorrow is going to bring.

Flying is a good thing – Photo: Manu Venkat

In the end, each person will need to look at their particular situation and decide if they are willing to fly. I know some might not have much of a choice (due to work or family tragedy, etc). If you do decide to fly, be defensive, have a plan (I know a lot of us just wing it), and respect your fellow passengers. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Some airlines are blocking middle seats, some are reducing capacity, others are doing nothing. Pick one that fits your comfort zone.
  • Assume nothing has been sanitized and do it yourself.
  • TSA will let you take up to 12oz of hand sanitizer through security right now.
  • Bring your own food or drinks.
  • Respect that anxieties and tensions will be higher for passengers and try to be more patient.
  • Have a back-up mask in case you need it.
  • Avoid people as much as possible. Don’t hang around the gate and board last. Don’t use lounges if they are busy. Use self-service options at home to avoid any lines.
I got up early to catch the sunrise

I want to get out and see the world again!

I am hoping that we can all come together as AvGeeks and do our part to get things back to something resembling “normal.” I don’t think it will be quick and it will likely take additional sacrifices, but I am optimistic!

I would love to know your thoughts and have a conversation in the comments. Are you okay with flying right now? Are there potential concerns that I missed? Are there more tips for people flying right now? If you are not flying, what concerns you the most? Passionate comments are welcome, I only ask that they be respectful.

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me: [email protected]

http://www.airlinereporter.com
Air Mail Arrows and Beacons Across America Link to the Industry’s Infancy
18 Comments
JL Johnson

Thank you for being brave enough to write what I couldn’t/wouldn’t. I agree 100% and imagine I’m not alone. Many good points, but perhaps the best is this: I don’t care how you personally feel about [masks] — you need to wear one.

Personally, I’m not happy to fly again until there’s a viable vaccine. Although things are looking better in that regard, it will be some months before vaccinations will start. Being somewhat past my sell-by date and with underlying health problems, I’m in a high risk group who should have early access to a vaccine (I think I’m in tier 3 or 4 in the UK). I’m hoping to be able to fly somewhere in the spring

Steve Zwerin

I completely agree with you. I LOVE to fly, and miss traveling to distant places. But, I’m not putting my family’s safety at risk until it’s much safer to do so— for all the reasons you’ve stated.

Marshall Starkman

David, I agree with your points and reasoning 100%. I might also add that, if at all possible, use smaller airports to travel from/to. I live on Southwest and use ISP 95% of the time as it is a smaller airport, parking is right there, enough space to spread out, even if that means sitting in another gate area, less crowded even in restroom areas, etc. If flying down to FL, I will opt for smaller PBI over FLl for the same reasons as ISP. Of course, a non-stop would also be reccommended but, in my opinion, I would rather need to change in BWI than depart out of a larger airport as there is still plenty of room to walk around at that airport as well as enough restrooms scattered instead of needing to use one on the longer non-stop flights. Using a larger airport would also inevitably involve the terminal busses, trams or public transportation.

As for me, my last flight was PBI/ISP back on March 22. Almost a surreal flight as the terminals were empty on both ends and, knowing that i could be grounded for quite a while, looked out of the window the entire time and took as many pics and videos as possible. I even boarded first and was the last off after thanking the crew and wishing them the best and the hope to be on board again in the not too distant future.

I hear ya! Great write up. I just recently had to fly cross country for a (very, very small, outdoor) wedding. Well, I didn’t have to do it, but I really wanted to be there for my sister. For me the planes were not the scary part. What really scared me was the airports, and more specifically the yahoos in the airports not following the rules. Not to be political but there were HUGE differences between where the airports were located and the level of folks following the rules. That alone turned me off from traveling again any time soon. Now, the wife and I are in self-imposed two week lockdown till we know we made it through the experience un-exposed. So far so good…fingers crossed.

I’ve been flying as if nothing has changed. While not zero, my risk is pretty close (and regardless of risk, I’m reasonably sure I had covid in London’s spring wave). Age is the greatest risk factor. I’m young & fit. The latest UK wave – there’s literally a handful of deaths under 60 without a comorbidity. I totally get my situation is not everyone else’s tho so I very much appreciate many people have good reason to be cautious and not flying.

For my part – I live in London and have had a swimming time bouncing back and forth the US and to the continent all spring//summer.

The deals are fantastic. I spent most of Aug & Sept working from Italy. Being able to putter around Venice without hordes of Americans & Chinese was a once in a lifetime. I was in St Mark with literally 10 other people. I spent a week in Amalfi in a glorious hotel that in a normal year costs £500/night. I stayed an entire week for that. I planned nothing and moved on a whim since cost & occupancy no longer required factoring.

Also to note: US domestic flights are much fuller than international flights. The AA PHL-MIA I took in July was 100% full. International long-haul – totally different scenario. Flown transatlantic 4x since March. None of the 8 crossing had more than 30 people on my plane. The last time I flew ATL-LHR: 14. 2:1 FA/PAX ratio. The lovely FAs gave me a bottle of Business class champagne to amuse myself with.

Anyway – slightly different take on the same scenario. My age, low BMI, and absence of commodities are not something everyone can lean on when evaluating their own risk so they need to consider their own scenario carefully.

I have been flying now more than ever. With airports/flights empty, and prices very cheap, it is an amazing time to get out and see the world. I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want to fly? If you are not elderly or have a compromised immune system, then what are you worried about? This isn’t a “pandemic”, but an overblown flu with a 99.7% survival rate. We have lived through far worse viruses than this with ZERO mitigation efforts and nothing bad happened. Quit living in fear.

Too many people have surrendered to fear and paranoia about this virus. I agree the elderly and those with underlying issues should mitigate their exposure.

I flew from SLC to DEN 2 weeks ago and in the row ahead of me was a young lady with two masks plus a face shield. Is that rational for someone that age or is it fear and paranoia driven by politicians and the media.

Go fly!

BILL HELBIG

I thought I’d never see the day as an Air Force and commercial pilot that I would never get on an airplane again, but here we are. The problem with the China Virus is the uncertainty in knowing all there is to know about it. Doctors are using educated guesses. There’s also a good deal of disagreement in the medical field as to how best to avoid getting the virus. Recently it was learned that 85% of people who tested positive had been wearing masks. And just last week a Danish study found that there was an insignificant difference in contracting the virus between those who wore masks and those that didn’t. With so many people wearing masks one would think the numbers would be decreasing, not increasing. I’m with doctors who have been saying all along that there are two main factors involved with contracting this virus – intensity and duration. Sitting in an airplane crowded with people for hours of time violates both these areas of concern. Seeing how studies are now showing the ineffectiveness of masks, one needs to minimize their contact with others. Doctors have been saying that a person will NOT contract this virus if exposed to it while shopping. There is neither intensity nor duration. Walking past people for 20 minutes in a store doesn’t present any real risk, even when NOT wearing a mask!! As far as restaurants are concerned, as long as they’re adequate spacing it too poses no danger. But there’s a caveat to all this. If a person is obese (60 percent of Americans are), or elderly, or in a nursing home, or have underlying medical issues, it gets increasingly risky to be in an enclosed area with lots of people. Having said this, I’d say that eliminates about 75% of the US population from boarding an airplane much less sitting in one for hours. Realistically I think the airline industry is in a world of hurt. Chances are one of the majors will fold in the next 2 years given that they need to fill a minimum of 2/3 of the seats for a break even load factor. I don’t see that happening any time soon. I would also think that countries will soon close their borders making international travel impossible. As for me, we bought an RV 3 years ago and will travel extensively out West for who knows how long. Airplanes are NOT viable at this point and I say this being a pilot, in great health, late 60’s and no underlying medical conditions.

Yes, that is the way it is, we were caught with a lie from the money bosses and the world health organisation. This virus is nothing worse than the virus we had last year, comparing statistics.
What about TB? We had during 2018 and 2019 1.5 million deaths. Aids 570 000.
As per the app World meters, the present population is 7,9 billion people, we got 60 million infections, 1.4 million deaths and 42 million recoveries. Less than .00002% deaths and the world is turned upside down.

Wow. I agree with David. It’s not time to fly or travel anywhere. Back in January we were off to a roaring start selling flights. Overtime was offered (it was that busy). February came and about the middle of the month we started getting calls from travelers in Europe (CDG/MXP specifically) requesting that they return home to the USA ASAP as their company halted all travel. From the middle of February through my furlough date (March 24) all we were doing was rebooking, canceling and refunding tickets. I’ve not worked since. Unemployment still going, but worried
if/when it runs out. Company health benefits (paid by employees since furlough) expires 31 January 2021. This industry has been devastated and will take a long time to recover. Pray for all of us in the airline/travel/hotel/car/cruise industry that we get to serve you again (hopefully) soon. We miss seeing you and making sure you get to and from your destinations safely.

Using caution and common sense when traveling is socially responsible – this is something that should be inherent. If you do travel, or you don’t, its a personal choice and one that should be respected either way. The challenging part of COVID is that it’s airborne and quite easy to contract and also easy to disperse – for lack of better language, this freaks the fu*k out of people.

With that to add to Henri, if you were to compare only per statistics on Worldometer (I am not saying this website is 100% accurate, as there are many variables … but assuming that the numbers are ‘around’ what they should be):

We have appr. 1.5 million deaths related to COVID in 2020
We have over 25’000 individuals that died of hunger TODAY
We have over 750’000 deaths related to water that should not be drank in 2020
We are closing in on 800’000’000 individuals who do not have access to clean drinking water
We are closing in on 500’000 individuals who have died of influenza

Numbers are only numbers, but in general, one can put themselves in a coma or into an insane asylum by worrying about everything all the time.

Mask up, sanitize, distance and keep your hands away from your face. Make sure not to lick doorknobs or make out with strangers who are coughing and have a fever. And yes, if your in a risk group, better to err on the side of caution.

I am flying to the west coast from Central Europe next Monday. Flight was just a few bucks under 500 for economy. That’s almost 1000 bucks less than usual. Plus, if I luck out, the plane will only be 1/4 full. HEPA filters, distancing and masks with continual alcohol … sounds like fun.

Safe travels everyone – stay sanitised.

Maureen Allenza

First of thank you for this timely article! You covered every aspect of a terrible situation. Like JL Johnson, what most resonated with me, was your comment about masks. I believe that if everybody had worn masks consistently when masks became widely available, this nightmare would be resolved now. Personally, I think very little of all the people traveling. this week. What are they thinking? Flying on commercial aircraft is my favorite activity on earth. Yes, I love to travel. But the best part is the plane! Always! I am heartbroken that Queen of the Skies reign has ended, and that so many members of the aircraft family have been retired due to Covid.
What scares me so much about Covid, so many people who should fear it, do not. Like you, I cannot wait to fly, but will not be doing so for a long time. I have severe asthma and am 64, so am very high risk for Covid. I am on lock-down. I was an RN for 32 years before I became disabled. We are living in dark times at present. We should all respect each other, and all be concerned for each other. If we all do the right things we will get through this and in due time know that joy cometh in the morning.

become widely

Maureen, We all need to recognize the politicization of the China Virus and act accordingly especially when it comes to air travel. One of the major parts of the politicization is the manipulation and suppressing of information.
As most of us know, there’s been a good deal of censorship that’s been happening across the spectrum of media sources, be it social or otherwise resulting in unnecessary fear and uncertainty. But there are several conservative media outlets which do not engage in censorship, repression of the news, or manipulation of language. Decisions regarding air travel need to be made on an informed basis. Limiting one’s decision making for air travel on what they read in USA Today and The NY Times in my view is not informed decision making. As is the case in the many issues of life there will always be disagreement. But there are those in the media who’s goal it is that there be no disagreement. To further their goal, any dissenting view is quashed by those controlling the distribution of information. You doubt this is happening? A congressional hearing was held last week addressing this very thing. It’s happening at this very moment. Having said this, a study released last week done by the Danish, is a perfect example of what I’ve said. The link for the study can be found below. It basically says that masks are ineffective in stopping the spread of the virus. But that runs contrary to the current narrative that they are, so of course you’ll be hard pressed to find this the results of the study in large part due to the algorithm used by Google which might produce the story. One will need to dig deep on their search engine to find it. I’ve seen it in a few places but it’s been part of a larger story who’s goal it is to poke holes in the study in order to create a narrative which discounts it’s validity. Of course this kind of manipulation is absent when reporting studies which feed the narrative even though the few “studies” that supposedly support today’s narrative that masks work, will always use vagueness for support such as masks might/may/could “help”, but never is there quantitative data to inform us as to just how much they might/may/could “help”. The Danish study actually quantifies the effectiveness of the masquerading of people. Keep in mind the few studies conducted on the positive effectiveness of masks have all been done in laboratory conditions, except this one. Imagine if the public learned that their adult security blankets don’t work!!! If you believe that this study is valid, which I think it is, you should think long and hard before getting on an airplane. One reason for my thinking this study is valid is because news of this study is either being manipulated in order to discount it, or it’s being suppressed since it demolishes the current narrative.
Using my metrics of intensity and duration to the virus, sitting in an enclosed cabin with lots of passengers for hours on end is a very bad idea, especially if one has an underlying heart or respiratory issue. Yes, we can disagree as to whether it’s safe to board an airplane, but your decision should be based on all the science available. This recent should give potential passengers pause. Finally to add to your decision making, consider the fact that cases are skyrocketing. If so many people are masquerading, more than ever before, why are cases skyrocketing? The logical conclusion would be that masks actually don’t work. Here’s the study. Decide for yourselves whether flying the “Friendly Skies” is worth the risk. After all, “You’re Something Special in the Air”!! Ignore this suppressed study at your own peril.

https://www.theepochtimes.com/masks-have-no-significant-effect-against-ccp-virus-study_3588025.html?utm_source=CCPVirusNewsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=2020-11-23

Thank you for writing the article.
I do respect your choice as only you can make it.

I am one of those people who will not wear a mask when at the airport or anywhere else. I will break the decrees (not laws) that the government has imposed on us because they are not lawful, but more importantly they are not helpful.
I have been flying all over the country for months. The only time I will put a face suffocater on my face is while on the airplane, because it is the terms of the transaction between me and a private company. Their company. Their rules.

If I make you decide not to travel, then so be it, BUT I am not disrespecting anyone or making anyone unsafe by MY decision not to wear a mask. This is the kind of thinking that has taken our country to where it is today. People get in fights over a f*$#ing mask for goodness sake.

The numbers speak for themselves. This is not more dangerous than any other sickness. ONLY USING the CDC numbers, you have over a %98 survival chance if you get sick (across all age groups). Why are you still staying at home?
Use common sense. Don’t cough on people, wash your hands, don’t touch your face and stay home when you don’t feel well.
Where have we heard that before? oh. that’s right, every doctor regarding every sickness, ever.

maureenlovesjetblue

I am staying home because I have severe asthma and pick up viruses very easily. I had pneumonia for 9 months once. So my situation is very unique.
I was an RN before I became disabled. I agree, it is a small percentage of the population that gets Covid. It’s just that drowning in one’s own blood is a horrible way to die. I just want to see as few people as possible get this! Be safe, Nathan.

Ron Hebron

I am flying!! I am 75 and in good health, no other risk factors. We flew from Seattle to Virginia to see our grandchildren October 1 to 12. United did not block out center seats, so we did it ourselves. We paid for E plus on the way east to get window and aisle seats, so no one would want the center seat, plus the leg room. Then we sat window and center to have space. On the return, similarly, we paid for window and aisle assignments, but not E plus.

I am now planning to drive to Florida with a relative and fly home in January. But we had to cancel 2 weeks in Cabo San Lucas because of conditions there.

I hate masks and cannot wear one on my daily one-hour walks. But we wore them, except for eating and drinking. No problem keeping space in the airport. There was some risk, but we are not ready to sit inside at home and watch the windows.

Thank you for publishing your concerns. I have lived a life of travel, but there are too many risks today to warrant any travel that is truly unnecessary. Staying home is the way to stay safe…. for now.

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