For my entire professional career I have travelled extensively. My practice has taken me across the United States, Europe and even to the Amazon. I have tons of frequent flyer points on many airlines. On United alone I have flown close to 1 million miles. That is until the second week in March 2020 when the Corona virus pandemic brought my travel to a screeching halt. From March 8, 2020 until a week ago I did not set foot in an airport nor board a plane.
I have been in no rush to resume flying. ‘Why take the risk?’ has been my feeling all during the pandemic. And then my granddaughter in St. Louis became engaged and I found myself driving to BWI Airport to go to St Louis for her engagement party. Had both my wife and I not been vaccinated we would in all likelihood have not gone, but since we are vaccinated we determined it was a controlled risk and decided to go.
What I encountered was definitely not what I had expected.
I should have realized my expectations were off when, at 8 am on a Sunday morning, I had difficulty finding a parking space at the airport. The lines at the TSA stations should have been another indicator. But it was not until I passed trough security and into the terminal proper that it became clear to me that, but for masks, the airport in all other respects was just had been the day I left it a year ago: packed with people, one on tp of the other, rushing to their departure gates or to retrieve their luggage at baggage claim.
Our Southwest flights were full. In fact, our return flight did not have a single empty seat. Social distancing was non-existent in the terminal and impossible on the plane. The terminals were as busy as ever. Except for the masked faces you would never know that we are in the midst of a pandemic.
If you travel by air…be prepared.