What the Tech? How Coronavirus Is Affecting Air Travel

Like a lot of people, my family had a spring break vacation scheduled the second week of March when the kids were going to be out of school.

Prior to our trip last Wednesday, the Coronavirus was a concern but not to the point the president or health officials were telling people to stay home.

So we kept our schedule and headed to Fort Myers, Florida for 5 days of sunshine. Our first flight to Atlanta was surprisingly full. A high school group was on board to meet a connecting flight to Orlando for a senior spring break trip to Disney World.

Flight attendants walked through the cabin with a plastic garbage bag to gather all the Clorox wipes passengers were using to disinfect the armrests and tray tables at their seats.

There was no food service because the flight was only an hour or so long.

Our flight to Fort Myers, on the other hand, had about 30 empty seats. Only a few people wore masks as a precaution and I have to say it was a bit unnerving when we stood up to disembark and the couple standing right behind me were wearing masks.

I asked if they had been sick or coughing or sneezing and they said: “No, we just want to be careful”.

The first full day in south Florida there was news of the virus and we took precautions. We took in a minor league spring training baseball game in the early afternoon and wiped down just about everything we were going to touch.

People were concerned and cautious but by the 6th inning, I noticed things were back to normal. And then, Thursday night happened.

Suddenly, with the announcement that March Madness was canceled and Major League Baseball postponed and the TPC golf tournament was canceled and people began buying every square of toilet paper, things became serious.

Our return trip home was Monday night and the airport in Fort Myers was much different than when we first arrived. There were a few more people wearing masks but the difference was social distancing was much easier. There just weren’t as many people in the airport as there was a few days earlier.

At TSA screening there was no line. Travelers could sit with 6 or 10 seats between the next person. Burger King had no chicken nuggets. I could tell people didn’t know whether to eat at one of the restaurants or not. A nice lady at the newsstand gave my wife a pair of gloves.

At Southwest check-in, there was no one with a boarding pass under the number 20. My boarding pass was for 31 but only 7 or 8 people boarded before me. There was something like 70 empty seats on the plane so social distancing was easy.

No one coughed or sneezed but no one spoke to anyone else either. It was almost like the entire plane was holding its breath until the doors opened again with fresh air.

“Do we have anything to eat when we get home?” was the question my wife and I asked the other. We didn’t know. Like a lot of people who go on vacation, we did no grocery shopping for 3-4 days before the trip. We did not want to walk back into a house with old food in the fridge.

Facebook posts from folks kept showing us empty shelves. “Do we have toilet paper?”.

We did make it home and our daughter who could not make the trip went to the grocery store and picked up enough food to last several days. We’re hoping the 8 rolls in the closet will be enough until the trucks refill the shelves and we time another trip to the grocery store. Hopefully, we’ll get lucky.

Since we flew on a plane and traveled through an airport, I am self-quarantined for the next 14 days.

We all feel fine and we have no reason to think we came in contact with someone with the virus, but you never know. We’re being cautious and do not want to spread the virus if we did come in contact with it.

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