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Flying During the Pandemic: Our Experience with Orlando International Airport & Beyond

COVID-19 has made the world a different place. We used to be able to fly easily without concern but many people now are a little more hesitant to go and travel. I recently needed to find Information on what flying looked like during the pandemic. I flew from Boston, Massachusetts to Orlando, Florida and then Orlando, Florida to Hartford, Connecticut. Here is what my experience flying in October 2020 looked like. 

 

 

When I got to Logan Airport in Boston security was a breeze. They ask you to stand behind a plexiglass wall for the safety of the TSA officers. When they check your boarding pass and your ID they ask you to pull down your mask to make sure that it is you. While you do that you are far away from other passengers and employees. I was extremely impressed with how people in Massachusetts were following the rules. The whole time while waiting for my flight I don’t think I saw one person without a mask, and many people had gloves or face shields as well.

On that flight I was flying on JetBlue. I had to scan my boarding pass myself so that nobody would touch my phone. If someone had a paper boarding pass they needed to scan it themselves as well, there was no contact. They had hand sanitizer available and wipes as well. They did a good job of keeping everyone separated while boarding the plane and they also kept the middle seat open. I still brought some wipes myself, just to be extra safe. I used them to wipe off my seat, armrests, seatbelt, tray table, and any other surfaces around me.

During the flight, when the flight attendants came through offering snacks and beverages they had sealed plastic bags with snacks and a bottle of water. This was all complimentary on JetBlue. Once the flight landed they also reminded everyone to remain socially distanced while getting off the plane, and to keep masks on at all times. 

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TSA at Orlando International Airport was also quite easy. They were definitely following the recommended guidelines, and I was impressed by all the airport employees. When I was doing my research I asked friends who had flown recently, and I had an overwhelming number of people recommend Southwest Airlines to me. My flight from Orlando International Airport to Bradley International Airport outside of Hartford, Connecticut was on Southwest Airlines. Southwest does not assign seats ahead of time, you get a boarding number when you check-in, so I was interested to see how that would go. Southwest is also keeping the middle seat open, which is good for social distancing. 

When I got to the Orlando international Airport, it was a bit of a different scene than Logan Airport in Boston. I saw many travelers walking around without masks, and there were large numbers of people crowded into a small space. Even though there were employees around, nobody was reminding anyone to wear their face coverings. When I found the gate for my flight, Southwest employees were trying to remind people to social distance, but many passengers were not listening.

I had an early boarding number to get on the plane, so I came up with the idea to go to the very back of the plane in hopes that there would be fewer people back there. I grabbed the second to last row, and my plan worked because I had the row completely to myself. There were not many other guests around me at all. Most people stayed towards the front or the middle of the plane, so if you don’t mind sitting in the back this could be a good idea for you too. For snacks and beverages, they offered cups of ice water and a little snack pack. Once the plane landed they again reminded people to stay socially distanced.

There were signs in both airports about their intense cleaning procedures, and I will admit both planes did seem very clean. I would still recommend bringing your own wipes and having an N95 mask, just to be extra safe. I would also recommend having hand sanitizer on you and that you try to stay as far away from other people as you can. I did feel safe flying, and I would do it again.

If you were wondering if you should visit Walt Disney World right now, I would say yes. Just make sure you check the regulations that your state might have about self-quarantining upon your return. I do think that Disney is doing what they can to stop the spread, and we can all do our part by following the rules. Disney’s Magical Express is still up and running, and you can safely get to your resort since they are following social distancing guidelines as well. If you are high risk or have medical conditions, then I would probably still put off traveling. If you are healthy and want to go on a Disney vacation, do it. We all need some Disney magic this year.

About Tricia Kennedy