Let’s Not Fly Away: Flying During Covid

I love to travel, and, like many of you, dislike how Covid doesn’t let me travel. I cancelled two different trips this year because of the pandemic, one of them a four-week voyage back to the homeland (Italy). I was missing the thrill of planning a trip and seeing new places. Luckily, I still had my move to plan and look forward to. I would get to hop on a plane and fly to somewhere I had never been. I had found the ultimate loophole to the pandemic.

Except I really didn’t like flying during Covid times. I actually found it incredibly uncomfortable.

With the new protocols in place, I arrived an hour and a half before my domestic flight (which was a good amount of time). The airport was empty, aside from my co-passengers all trying to check their bags. The kiosks all touted “Touchless Bag Check” but it’s no different than the system they had before, except for some extra screening questions. You print your bag tags at the computer and take it up to the counter for the airline to weigh. Then you go through security, which is pretty similar aside from social distancing, and you’re ready to board your flight. 

The first hiccup happened once I went through security. Nothing was open, save for the Tim Hortons. I was a little bummed I couldn’t get a Starbucks, but I understand that the companies don’t want to take a risk. I opted to stick to my water and wait for my flight to board; in hindsight, the lack of caffeine probably didn’t help with the overall experience.

I wiped down my seat in the waiting area and was happy to see most people wearing masks already. When they gave the call to board, they did it by zone, checking your temperature and asking you to wait two-metres apart. Not that social-distancing mattered once you got on the plane. That plane was packed.

Now, I am not super paranoid about Covid; I respect your two-metre bubble and wear a mask when I go somewhere public, but I was still visiting with friends and family before my move. But take all the annoying parts of a typical cramped flight – lack of legroom, no space in the overhead bins, sitting hip-to-hip with a stranger – and combine that with six-months of conditioning to stay two metres apart or you’ll die/kill everyone you come in contact with, and my anxiety sky-rocketed. My whole body rejected being that close to so many strangers. My connecting flight was better. It was a bigger plane and less crowded; but even though I had a whole row to myself, I still wasn’t comfortable. 

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting this kind of reaction, and I’m grateful it wasn’t a longer flight. I thought, because I was chill with Covid in my everyday life, that I would be fine on the plane. But I think it’s because I can control the situations I put myself in; I can pick who comes into my bubble and avoid high-traffic public spaces. Being trapped on a plane, with almost a hundred other strangers was not pleasant.

I would love to travel and explore Ontario while I’m here, but I’m not sure that’s the wisest choice for me right now. The next time I’ll be on a plane will probably be Christmas, and frankly, I’m not looking forward to it.

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