I’m Just Not Ready To Fly As Yet And Here Are 12 Reasons Why
I’ve flown 180 airlines and visited 125 countries/geographic regions, so when I say I’m not ready to fly yet, there’s a lot of thought behind this as clearly, I love to travel!
I typically fly about 175K miles a year. At my peak of travel, I did just over 500K in one year. Last year, I flew just under 100K revenue miles and just under 200K miles total.
Now, please don’t get me wrong, you know how much I love to fly and fly every chance I get, but my reasoning for this perspective is that I feel that the airlines and airports and the world is just not ready as yet for a drastic increase in passengers.
I know our industry is hurting and we need to get back to the business of transporting passengers, but…
We are going to get there, and everyone is working very hard to make it happen (thank you for that), but we are not there yet.
Here’s are my 12 reasons why…
1. Lack of basic disinfecting products for travelers
Shopping online or at my local grocery store, hardware store or pharmacy produces zero wet wipes, hand sanitizers or any products I can take with me to use to disinfect anything during my travels. So how am I supposed to clean my hands and surfaces during my travels? I know this will change, but for now there are shortages.
Yes, the airports or the airlines may provide them at the gate or in the lounges or in the airport walkways, but I’d like to have my own so I can use it when needed.
2. Lack of face masks/coverings
Like the disinfecting products mentioned above, masks are also unavailable, or those who have them in stock are charging more than 3 times the normal price; yes price gouging is real during these times; doesn’t see that any of the governing bodies are doing anything about people gouging customers during a pandemic. I’m making a mental note of which brands to avoid when all this is over.
Airlines and some countries and some airports are requiring that face masks be worn once you enter the building and/or throughout the entire flight process, so we need face masks.
Again, I cannot find face masks in my local stores. And online delivery is a month and a half away at ridiculous prices. Yes, people do make cloth ones and I can improvise and use my eye mask from an amenity kit, so all is not lost here.
But face masks should be readily available since they are the new norm, albeit somewhat temporary?
3. Proper Testing
While testing is being worked on, it’s not readily available everywhere as yet. So there is no definitive way for people to know if they’ve had the virus or is an unknown carrier so they can better handle it.
We are getting there, but not at the level it should be to make me feel comfortable to travel anywhere.
I’d feel really bad, if I unknowingly had the virus and passed it along to someone. The converse goes without saying.
Now, airlines like Emirates are testing passengers before they board the flights so that’s a good thing and Etihad is working on a system to test passengers at kiosk once they re-start flights in mid May, so we are getting there slowly.
4. Some airlines have still suspended their operations
There are a number of airlines that have still suspended operations. Yes, some are opening up, but others like South African Airways have gone out of business. And some like Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia and Air Mauritius are either in receivership or some kind of uncertainty. It’s been of course really tough for the airlines.
Think of this; I checked the New York to London schedule and there were only 3 flights a day at one point. Typically there are 3 or so each hour! The schedule is getting better though.
5. 14-day quarantine
Many places are requiring a 14-day quarantine on arrival or if you transit a particular city, so even if I could get to a place once my own restrictions have been lifted, I’d have to hang out for a while before going anywhere or doing anything.
This is not limited to international travel, which is not allowed at the moment anyway as a U.S. citizen (or citizens of many other countries). As some U.S. states and cities have these restrictions as well. Southwest Airlines has a list here. These rules are changing from time to time, so it’s important that we check with the airlines before purchasing a ticket.
6. Where am I gonna go?
The U.S. actually have a Level 4 travel health advisory, so you can’t travel anywhere internationally.
IATA has a list of countries with travel restrictions. They update this constantly. Many countries still have either restrictions that you cannot enter if you’re not a citizen/permanent resident or if you enter you have to self-quarantine, usually for 14 days.
As an example, effective April 29, 2020, if you have been in the USA within the last 14 days you will not be admitted into Japan, so that means you won’t be allowed to board a plane from the U.S. to Japan unless you are a citizen or a permanent resident or have some other exemption.
And some countries and cities are still under lockdown anyways as they are still battling the virus.
I read where Argentina is not allowing anyone to enter until the beginning of September 2020 as they’ve banned the sale of tickets for all flights both internally and internationally.
I may be able to visit friends and families in my region/country, but they may not want to have me as they nor I don’t know if I’m a carrier.
Also, within the U.S. there are restrictions from traveling from state to state. e.g. If you travel from Louisiana to Texas, you have to quarantine for 14 days.
7. Airport Check-In
How will this work?
Today, it’s all about the kiosk, which is fine. But how often are the touch screens cleaned. I see airlines saying “multiple times,” but what does that really equate to? I’m thinking clean after each use, but is that practical? Will be safer though.
I’d have to wear a glove to use it. And no, I’m not being paranoid, just being careful.
8. Airport security
Those conveyor belts are nasty; they’ve always been nasty. Just like the ones at the grocery stores. So how do I keep my carry-on clean and sterilized once I arrive at the airport and it goes through that X-ray machine? I have a plan, but not revealing it just yet.
It will be “fun” to watch social distancing for the airport security lines. People are flying now so it must be working, I’d imagine. However, only essential workers are flying; thank you all for what you do.
The agent touches my ID with their gloved hand that had just previously touched the ID of the person before me. So I have to figure out how to sterilize my ID before it goes back into my pocket/wallet/purse. If only I had some disinfecting wipes or hand sanitizer.
Or if only, my ID was embedded into my boarding pass and when I scan it, my ID shows up. I know some airports like in San Francisco, you only use your ID, but then you have to give that to the agent to scan it.
How frequent are those bowls and bins cleaned that we are told to put our stuff in? How about us taking off our shoes if we are not TSA Pre? Do we get something in which to put our feet or do we now have to travel with a pair of slippers? I’ve always not had good feelings about the security process.
Are the TSA agents going to change their gloves after inspecting someone else’s bag?
I’d like to be clear on these procedures.
9. The cleanliness of the airport gate area
How often are these areas cleaned? A few times a day, after every flight departs, which is tough as passengers are always coming for the next flight. But the airports need to communicate this to us somehow.
Are the gate readers cleaned after each flight and how about the hand rails if they exist in the jetways? When are those cleaned. When are the jetway interiors cleaned?
Plus, the gate stanchions are they cleaned at all?
I watch people really closely when I fly and they do interesting things.
10. Airport Toilets
How about the toilets? How often are these cleaned during the day? This includes those in the airport lounges too.
11. Social distancing on an airplane
The airlines have not yet worked this out. Yes, they are leaving the middle seat empty, but that is not enough clearance in my mind.
There’s always a cougher behind me and people just don’t cover their mouths when they cough. yes, their mouth are covered now, but the masks does not stop all the stuff from escaping. I’ve come off flights with itchy throat many, many times so I know and see it when I travel.
You really need every other row to be empty to get anywhere close to 6′ (2 meters) social distancing. Typically, in Economy class, the seat pitch (distance between the seats) ranges from 28″ to about 34″ depending on the airline you’re traveling, that’s about 1/2 of the required social distancing recommendations especially if you have a cougher or a sneezer even a masked person.
Perhaps a straddled approach where one row has the middle seat occupied and then the next row has the window and aisle, then the next row has the middle seat again, etc.
The economics of that is that airlines just can’t afford that and travelers are just not ready to pay more for their tickets to compensate for this.
To me, the empty middle seat is just a knee jerk reaction as that’s the quickest and easiest thing to do and also the one that keeps the most revenue. I totally get it.
One could also consider, implementing an every other row system, leave the middle seat empty, this way if someone coughs or sneezes forward, you are two seats away and you’re never sitting next to someone. This is perhaps the most expensive one.
Also, some airplanes have different seating configurations, configurations, how will this be handled for each type?
I’d like to see this detailed for each aircraft type on their Websites. I’ve seen two such seat maps on United.com, but looking for the entire fleet types.
Here’s a possible 2–3–2 layout; the cool kids can figure out the revenue potential:
12. How clean are the airplanes?
The airlines have done a good job with communicating that the airplanes are being kept clean. But this means that the turn times are being increased between flights now and that means they will make less money as the airplanes will be flown less. How long can that last?
Before each flight, is the airplane cleaned completely or is it only cleaned thoroughly once a day before its first flight. So I need to be clear on what’s termed the “Turn clean,” i.e the cleaning between flights. I see that Delta says they will be doing this (through cleaning before every flight) come May and American says they will be doing the same.
I know that international flights get a thorough cleaning before being turned, but what about the shorter flights and will it be done at the tiny out stations on the smaller planes too? Full compliance is needed.
Also, when someone uses the onboard lavs, will they be cleaned before the next person uses it? I need to be clear on how that will work.
At some stations, they have minimal staff. The person who meets the flight is the one who checks you in at the counter and boards the plane at the gate and pulls the jetway. It’s a thin staff. As a traveler I’d expect the same level of hygiene at that station as the hubs, since the weakest link makes it all not worth it.
So there you have it, these are my concerns as it relates to flying at this time. I know it will get better, but at the moment, I’m not ready to do it all just yet, without extra safety precautions and wet wipes :-).
I know that eventually we can relax a bit once we figure it all out, but for now, I think as flyers we need more information in order to feel safe when we set foot in the airport.
What say you? Are you ready to fly?