Mask on and armed with hand sanitizer and antiseptic wipes. I was ready to take on my first flight during Covid-19.
But what would I find when I arrived at the airport? The terminal? The plane? The answer? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
This was the first time in the history of me traveling, to see an image like this. Little did I know, it was only the beginning of an eery trip through the airport.
After making it through security in record time, I proceeded to the terminals at Pittsburgh International Airport and found more weirdness. There’s really no other way to describe it. Two of the four terminals were completely shut down and the one my flight was leaving from maybe had four or five active gates. As we’ve heard over and over during the pandemic, it was truly unprecedented.
Aside from the absence of people, there was an abundance of sanitary precautions in place to ensure a clean airport. I’ve never seen one of these self-propelled mopping gizmos. There were also several hand sanitizer stations spread throughout the terminals, which made me feel comfortable. The majority of the restaurants and stores were closed. I counted four, maybe five that were open. Total.
Because I checked my bag, made it through security and to my gate in record time (a whopping 7 minutes), I wanted to walk around the airport to see how everything was laid out. In one of the closed terminals I saw one gate completely without seats and then I peaked out the window to find dozens of “grounded” airplanes with tarps over the engines. So. Weird.
Once I boarded my flight, I was extremely pleased and surprised what I found on the plane. Cleanliness. I’m not certain how old the plane was, but it was spotless. Everyone wore the required mask, all middle seats were open, nothing in the seat back pockets, floors were spotless and the flight attendants made sure the patrons were spread out evenly. My flight was less than a third full and, again, I felt extremely comfortable once we got in the air.
From the airport, security and airline employees I spoke to, none are sure when normalcy will resume due to the Covid-19 pandemic but are hopeful improvements will happen towards the end of July.
But why travel right now anyway? Why take the chance of being exposed to the virus despite feeling incredibly comfortable both in the airport and the plane? Well, I got to see this little nugget. Spending the weekend with my nephew, Nash, and my family was well worth it. If anything has crystalized for me during these unusual times, it’s how important family is. Just make sure there’s plenty of hand sanitizer to go around.