To Fly or Not to Fly, That is the Question

By Christy Kim

Covid 19 Travel

“Fasten your seatbelts and prepare for take off.” These mandatory instructions blared on the speakers during my cross continental flight from Chicago to Turkey. This was my first flight experience since the strike of COVID-19. There have been drastic effects on the reality of travel as we know it. From mask mandates to added security procedures, I quickly realized that traveling in this COVID era is uncomfortable and dystopian.

I do not want to take travel lightly. Peaceful terminal breaks, whimsical glances with mysterious strangers, and every other travel comfort is no longer. One must only brave travel if absolutely necessary.

My first obstacle in my travel experiences was wearing a mask for an extended period of time. My parents hammered in the idea of taking as many precautions as possible. I wore my face shield and double masks, armed carefully for the dangers I might face. I saw the walls of plexiglass as I approached the check-in desk. The flight attendants remained a safe distance away. After receiving my boarding passes and checking my baggage, I went through security.

This consisted of removing my hand carry items and shoes. I placed them in the ever-familiar plastic bins, and walked through the security sensors. Then, I removed my mask for identification purposes, which only occurred once. Finally, I anxiously waited at my terminal to board my 10-hour flight to Turkey.

My in-flight experience quickly upended every other physical discomfort I have faced. I pressed against the leather upholstery airplane seats. My nasal and mouth airways got blocked by my two masks. Any attempt to go to the bathroom was similar to the way that doctors prep for surgery. I had thoroughly wash my hands as well as sanitizethe toilet seat and the door handles.

The seating itself was the only convenient factor as Turkish Airlines, the airline I flew with, made sure to separate its passengers with a seat in between each individual. The food and beverage cart cycles were few to none. Flight attendants tried to avoid contact with the passengers. I did not have as many in-flight entertainment options, as movie releases have been slim to none.

Once I landed in Turkey, I had to go through another round of security. I marked down my potential COVID symptoms and took my temperature before exiting. The look of excitement of my parents on the other side of the exit glass doors was my only saving grace.

My final take away from everything I experienced is that the comforts of flying and “getting away” that I once knew of are no longer. Instead of gazing blissfully out of airplane windows, there are plexiglass dividers of all kinds. Traveling is a serious matter as COVID is not a joke. Cases are rising and ignorant people will fall victim to this deadly virus.

Only those who must, should, fly in the skies. Otherwise, the safety of the ground is one to cling to in these uncertain times.