Travelling During a Pandemic — A First Hand Account

Empty+Seats+on+the+Flight

Olivia Martinez Reynolds

Empty Seats on the Flight

Olivia Martinez Reynolds, Reporter

Everyone knows, going out during this time is dangerous. Let alone traveling. I think a lot of people would like to know what it is like to board planes during this time, without actually doing it themselves of course. Lucky for you, I recently traveled from Mexico to Boston having been there for a family trip that began before the outbreak of this pandemic.

Allow me to give you some background. I left for Mexico on March 11th, planning only to stay for five days due to school. I was scheduled to fly back on the 16th. Traveling to Mexico from Boston, we were aware of the COVID-19 but it wasn’t such a pressing issue. Regardless we were still careful to keep our distance, wash our hands, and not touch our face. 

While in Mexico, the situation worsened, or a better choice of words could be, blew up. News that school was going to be closed, and restaurants had a maximum of people allowed in, everything seemed almost surreal. 

In Mexico at this time, the total case number was only 23 for the whole country. The wave had not hit. Life was still normal; I was able to go out, eat, and even get my nails done. It was nothing like the world I was reading about in the US news reports. 

The announcement that school would be canceled for a month came the night before my flight. Seeing as I was only flying back so soon for my education, which was now based online, my Dad changed my flight to stay a few more days because he worried about me flying alone.

The date was March 20th, 2020, when my father and I headed to the airport in Aguascalientes, Mexico. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was a bit nervous, but I was calm and secure in the fact that I felt healthy. Upon arrival, at the front doors of the airport it was required that each individual fill out a form that asked questions like “Do you have a headache? Frequent coughing or sneezing? Do you have discomfort, or difficulty breathing?” It also asked if we had had any contact with anyone who was sick, or showed signs or sickness. And finally, they asked where we have been and for how long we were there. 

After filling out the form, each person had their temperature taken. First they took it with a digital thermometer, and then a second precautionary check with a manual one. If anyone had a temperature above the normal body temperature, they were asked to step aside for further evaluation and they were not permitted to pass into baggage claim or to board the plane. 

Everything that I have described are events that I have never had to undergo while traveling. I have made the trip between Boston and Mexico countless times in my life, and this time was definitely different. There were noticeably more hand sanitizing stations at every stop. They had hand sanitizers before baggage check, after, and at every gate. 

Further precautions my father and I took was having our own supply of hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes, masks, and gloves. We used the wipes to clean any and every seat we sat in, including the plane seats. 

Observations I made included the fact that there were so few people in the airport or on the planes. Although I was aware of the circumstances, this still came as a surprise to me because never in my life had I traveled on planes that had so few people on them. 

During the trip we boarded three planes. Aguascalientes, Mexico to Mexico City, Mexico City to Atlanta, and Atlanta to Boston.

Once we left Mexico, the time spent traveling from Atlanta to Boston was so much different. It seemed that no one was as careful, there were no temperature checks, and there were not nearly as many hand sanitizer stations. Everything was more rushed, almost frantic like. 

All in all, we did make it back to Boston safe and sound and the trip was a success. I am very grateful that I had a safe experience traveling and I can definitely say that I traveled through a worldwide pandemic. Stay safe everyone!

Olivia Martinez Reynolds
Empty Seats on the Flight from Atlanta to Boston
Olivia Martinez Reynolds
Closed stores in Atlanta terminal.