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My First Flight Since COVID-19 Hit the US


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I know this isn't directly related to cruising but most people need to fly to get to their cruise embarkation. I flew from Buffalo, NY to Austin, TX via Baltimore, MD on Southwest airlines this week. My wife and I wore N95 masks and face shields and didn't eat or drink on the flights. Here are my observations: all passenger on the plane and the crew wore facemasks, unless they were eating or drinking. I think some folks really sipped on their drinks an extended amount of time to maximize their mask being off. Several wore their masks below their nose, which is essentially useless; Southwest kept the middle seats unoccupied unless a family was travelling together; there was no social distancing in the airports especially in Baltimore around the food court; many people inside the airport weren't wearing masks, especially the younger folks; Southwest did instruct people what material a mask needed to be made of and how it should be worn but they did not enforce it on the flight; getting off the plane everyone did the normal get up and wait in the aisle and social distancing wasn't a consideration; same at the luggage pick up point. Bottom line is that we weren't scared because we were well protected but it was concerning to see so many people ignore the best practices, especially the younger folks.

So why do I bring this up on a cruise forum? First of all because most must fly before cruising but more importantly it illustrates how ignorant and selfish many people are by not following the rules and/or getting around the rules (the long sipping of drinks to keep their masks off). If anyone thinks this type of behavior won't occur on their flight or their Regent cruise, you are dreaming. And if you think it is just the younger folks and that there aren't too many of them on Regent, I can attest that the older folks were just as guilty of breaking the rules as the older folks. At times, one would have thought that there weren't any special COVID-19 precautions.

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3 hours ago, pappy1022 said:

I know this isn't directly related to cruising but most people need to fly to get to their cruise embarkation. I flew from Buffalo, NY to Austin, TX via Baltimore, MD on Southwest airlines this week. My wife and I wore N95 masks and face shields and didn't eat or drink on the flights. Here are my observations: all passenger on the plane and the crew wore facemasks, unless they were eating or drinking. I think some folks really sipped on their drinks an extended amount of time to maximize their mask being off. Several wore their masks below their nose, which is essentially useless; Southwest kept the middle seats unoccupied unless a family was travelling together; there was no social distancing in the airports especially in Baltimore around the food court; many people inside the airport weren't wearing masks, especially the younger folks; Southwest did instruct people what material a mask needed to be made of and how it should be worn but they did not enforce it on the flight; getting off the plane everyone did the normal get up and wait in the aisle and social distancing wasn't a consideration; same at the luggage pick up point. Bottom line is that we weren't scared because we were well protected but it was concerning to see so many people ignore the best practices, especially the younger folks.

So why do I bring this up on a cruise forum? First of all because most must fly before cruising but more importantly it illustrates how ignorant and selfish many people are by not following the rules and/or getting around the rules (the long sipping of drinks to keep their masks off). If anyone thinks this type of behavior won't occur on their flight or their Regent cruise, you are dreaming. And if you think it is just the younger folks and that there aren't too many of them on Regent, I can attest that the older folks were just as guilty of breaking the rules as the older folks. At times, one would have thought that there weren't any special COVID-19 precautions.

Thank you for this post.  I’ve seen it often.  I even had a mask made that said Cover

 both nose and mouth.  I get smiles, awkward pulling up their masks , and stares. 

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Thanks for posting.  One of the concerns about getting back to cruising with Regent is that some passengers won't follow the rules and Regent won't enforce them.  I've seen too many examples of Regent not enforcing its own policies such as dealing with chair hogs or attire after 6 PM, among other issues.  One might expect that Regent would be more diligent about rule enforcement with a serious matter such as Covid, but I have my doubts.  And many times staff may not be around to observe behavior such as not wearing a mask, not washing hands, or not appropriately social distancing.

 

I was amazed by your observations about people not wearing masks and following distancing guidelines at BWI.  I looked up the guidelines for BWI and they require masks (https://www.bwiairport.com/COVID19FaceMasks) so if people weren't wearing them that is a big concern for Covid transmission.  And it is a major concern that the airport isn't enforcing its own guidelines.  If airlines and airports aren't following rules, that is a big reason to avoid them in my opinion.  

 

To feel safe with travel, including on Regent, I want to know that guidelines will be enforced.  Until I am assured of that, I'm not booking anything.

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This is very different in the UK, you would be removed from airports if not masked or socially distancing.  Would not be accepted, but then UK airports are empty as most are running at barely 20% of pre-covid levels. Think this shows why Europe has taken on board measures but that the states has not. As a result US citizens will not be welcome in Europe for the next 6 months and those on the CC boards who are holding out for early Cruising in Europe are deluded..........

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As far as people not wearing masks at BWI, everyone I saw had them, but many had them around their neck with their nose and mouth fully exposed (and not just the one's eating or drinking). There was actually one woman, who was on our flight, that did not wear a mask at all in the congested airport but did put one on when she got on the plane. This is certainly not the majority but a large enough sampling to be very noticeable. It seems in the US that following the COVID-19 guidelines is considered more of a suggestion than an enforced law. I would love to say something to those folks that aren't following the guidelines but there have been too many incidents of confrontation when some folks are challenged, so it's too risky. It is difficult to ask service employees to police these guidelines because it can put them at risk for injury and attacks. It will be very challenging to say the least for Regent employees to become the onboard "police", so I think it is safe to assume that there will be some non compliance on board and on excursions. I also think that many companies have good policies in writing but if they don't enforce them then they become just words. You almost need an independent entity to monitor compliance and either have the company fix the issue immediately or have some type of reporting system that is public information so that individuals can judge for themselves if it is safe. That may be going to far for some, but this is serious stuff and it's coming back as we have seen in new spikes around the world. When travelling or even going to buy food at the local grocery store, you have to assume that not everyone is following the guidelines.

 

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3 hours ago, pappy1022 said:

  It will be very challenging to say the least for Regent employees to become the onboard "police", so I think it is safe to assume that there will be some non compliance on board and on excursions. I also think that many companies have good policies in writing but if they don't enforce them then they become just words. 

 

  We are in complete agreement.

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I have sailed on Regent, Seabourn, and Crystal.  I am always shocked at how many people waltz on by the hand sanitizing stations at the different dining venues - and it is so easy to use them.  I have often wished there was a staff person standing there to make sure everyone used the sanitizer.  Maybe, just maybe once cruising starts again, people will be more aware of the small things they can do to protect others.  On the other hand, I kind of doubt it. 

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jjs217,

 

I was on to the end of the 2020WC and there was someone standing by the hand sanitizing stations in Veranda, Compass Rose and Coffee Corner to be sure we all stopped to use the sanitizers. And this was starting in late February/early March.

 

I agree with you, people were not always so good about doing this in the past. I think/hope we will be, going forward.

 

Peggy

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On 9/25/2020 at 4:02 PM, pappy1022 said:

I know this isn't directly related to cruising but most people need to fly to get to their cruise embarkation. I flew from Buffalo, NY to Austin, TX via Baltimore, MD on Southwest airlines this week. My wife and I wore N95 masks and face shields and didn't eat or drink on the flights. Here are my observations: all passenger on the plane and the crew wore facemasks, unless they were eating or drinking. I think some folks really sipped on their drinks an extended amount of time to maximize their mask being off. Several wore their masks below their nose, which is essentially useless; Southwest kept the middle seats unoccupied unless a family was travelling together; there was no social distancing in the airports especially in Baltimore around the food court; many people inside the airport weren't wearing masks, especially the younger folks; Southwest did instruct people what material a mask needed to be made of and how it should be worn but they did not enforce it on the flight; getting off the plane everyone did the normal get up and wait in the aisle and social distancing wasn't a consideration; same at the luggage pick up point. Bottom line is that we weren't scared because we were well protected but it was concerning to see so many people ignore the best practices, especially the younger folks.

So why do I bring this up on a cruise forum? First of all because most must fly before cruising but more importantly it illustrates how ignorant and selfish many people are by not following the rules and/or getting around the rules (the long sipping of drinks to keep their masks off). If anyone thinks this type of behavior won't occur on their flight or their Regent cruise, you are dreaming. And if you think it is just the younger folks and that there aren't too many of them on Regent, I can attest that the older folks were just as guilty of breaking the rules as the older folks. At times, one would have thought that there weren't any special COVID-19 precautions.

Thank you so very much for posting this insight.

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Yes, thanks for this helpful post. In our town, people can remove their mask while seated in a restaurant. BUT restaurants here are strictly required to distance their tables. And masks must be worn if one wants to walk around the restaurant. It must be a good program, as there have been no deaths here directly from Covid. And among tests here, "positives" are less than 1%. 

 

My fear of flying comes from the fact that there is no social distancing on the planes. Even if the middle seat is left vacant or if one flies business class, there still is far less distancing than required in other establishments. I think we will stay on the ground for now.

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I have been flying multiple times a week, every single week since the pandemic started (required for work). I haven’t stopped. I witnessed how the airports emptied at the beginning of the pandemic with 0-10 people on a flight and nearly deserted terminals with almost every business closed, and then how they gradually started filling up again and businesses reopened, giving them a semblance of normalcy. 


While I haven’t flown on Southwest, my experience has been that the passengers who do challenge the procedures and protocols in place are a very small exception and not the majority. Almost everyone follows the rules. People do tend to get a bit too close when standing in line on the jetway, but otherwise, procedures are followed. I have watched as flight attendants and gate agents have “gently reminded” passengers if they are not complying, and most if not all quickly comply. 

The airline that I fly has many procedures in place which make me feel confident about flying. Fogging and deep cleaning before every single flight, sanitizing wipes handed to every passengers as they board, middle seats blocked, service limited to sealed bags with mini bottles of water, 2 snacks and hand sanitizer, new boarding procedures, and one of the most organized deplaning procedures I’ve ever witnessed with all passengers remaining seated until the row ahead of them has collected their belongings and moved forward. And for people who claim to have a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask, they are now required to arrive at the airport at least with an extra hour so that they can go through a medical consultation and document verification to make sure that they do qualify (for the record, I still haven’t seen a single passenger not wearing a mask). 
 

Concerning air quality, it’s eye opening to learn how air is filtered on airplanes using medical grade filtration systems, how the air flow travels from the top down (not horizontally) and how it’s replaced every 2-3 minutes, minimizing the amount of air shared among passengers, which makes up for the lack of separation between passengers while seated. 
 

It’s actually surprising to see the level of compliance that I’ve witnessed, considering the number of people traveling, many who may not believe in all of these procedures. But they also know that the airline that I fly on has made it very clear that no compliance will earn them, not only to be kicked off a flight, but also to be placed on a “no fly” list and be banned from flying. Nobody wants to take that risk for the sake of protest. 
 

I know that not all airlines are the same, but I’m very satisfied with what I’ve witnessed so far. As much as I’ve flown during this pandemic, I would’ve expected to have been infected by now if these procedures weren’t effective or adhered to. Thankfully it hasn’t happened. After all these months traveling as frequently as I have, i do feel safer flying than going to a local supermarket or restaurant. 

Edited by Tapi
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I appreciate your perspective and experience during the pandemic. I did say in my post that the people not complying with best practices wasn’t the majority and compliance on the plane was better than in the terminal in Baltimore. The biggest thing that I saw was people wearing masks beneath their noses in the terminal and on the plane. They might as well not wear a mask at all. The 2 people directly seated behind us never put their masks on properly. With this virus, all it takes is 1 to get the ball rolling, so to Speak. The Buffalo airport was much better with compliance. They even had every other urinal and regular toilets roped off. It may have been the time of day in Baltimore, as it was lunch time, where everyone was shoulder to shoulder in line for food at the various food courts. The bottom line is that not everyone will comply no matter if it’s a plane, a cruise ship, a tour bus, a hotel, etc. Our church started in person services a couple of weeks ago requiring social distancing and masks and so far there haven’t been any cases related to our church. My wife and I will watch the service online for the foreseeable future so maybe our “standards” are more rigorous than others. My wife is a nurse and she has seen what can happen to people who get COVID-19. We must respect the virus and realize that it will be around for a while.

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I haven’t flown nearly as much as Tapi but my experience On Delta was very good.  Everyone I could see complied and if you look at data it bears out his comments on the effectiveness of the airlines‘ procedures.  In my opinion we’d all be a lot safer on a cruise ship than flying and going through airports.

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7 hours ago, Dolebludger said:

I certainly agree with this, tennis. And I wonder why cruise ships are being put to such distancing restrictions while the airlines and airports are just being given a pass.

The debacle at the beginning of the pandemic where several pax passed away on ships plus other ships were refused entry into ports I’m sure is on everyone’s mind. What steps are the cruiselines taking to ensure this won’t reoccur?

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A friend of my has been flying all September and she didn't really feel the difference. The only difference she noted was that there are much less people in the airport and not all the stores are operating or have a very limited product range. So yeah, no real changes there

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Maybe I am more aware of my surroundings since I’m in the vulnerable category and/or I am more sensitive to people not following best practices. I have a nephew who has flown quite a bit and he enjoys the fewer crowds in airports and airplanes. He also interacts with groups of friends often not following best practices. It is certainly a different attitude about the risks and preventions for COVID-19 than what I believe in. My experience with my flight was that there were a noticeable amount of people that didn’t adhere to the best practices. Most notably people who wore their masks beneath their nose (a useless practice) and the lack of social distancing around food court lines and seating, getting off the plane, and in baggage claim. If other people aren’t concerned about those things then sure they would feel flying is better now with smaller crowds and open seats on airplanes. I will only fly again in the short term if there is a family emergency. 

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George and I flew for the first time since February last Friday.  On American.  Planes were both packed, but they really did enforce wearing masks the whole time, and everyone seemed to cooperate.  We were in the exit row, and the flight attendant was very friendly.  They handed out a bag with hand sanitizer and bottle of water as you boarded the plane.  I didn’t feel worried, though I honk they need to start adding back more flights.

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On 9/28/2020 at 6:43 PM, Tapi said:

I have been flying multiple times a week, every single week since the pandemic started (required for work). I haven’t stopped. I witnessed how the airports emptied at the beginning of the pandemic with 0-10 people on a flight and nearly deserted terminals with almost every business closed, and then how they gradually started filling up again and businesses reopened, giving them a semblance of normalcy. 


While I haven’t flown on Southwest, my experience has been that the passengers who do challenge the procedures and protocols in place are a very small exception and not the majority. Almost everyone follows the rules. People do tend to get a bit too close when standing in line on the jetway, but otherwise, procedures are followed. I have watched as flight attendants and gate agents have “gently reminded” passengers if they are not complying, and most if not all quickly comply. 

The airline that I fly has many procedures in place which make me feel confident about flying. Fogging and deep cleaning before every single flight, sanitizing wipes handed to every passengers as they board, middle seats blocked, service limited to sealed bags with mini bottles of water, 2 snacks and hand sanitizer, new boarding procedures, and one of the most organized deplaning procedures I’ve ever witnessed with all passengers remaining seated until the row ahead of them has collected their belongings and moved forward. And for people who claim to have a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask, they are now required to arrive at the airport at least with an extra hour so that they can go through a medical consultation and document verification to make sure that they do qualify (for the record, I still haven’t seen a single passenger not wearing a mask). 
 

Concerning air quality, it’s eye opening to learn how air is filtered on airplanes using medical grade filtration systems, how the air flow travels from the top down (not horizontally) and how it’s replaced every 2-3 minutes, minimizing the amount of air shared among passengers, which makes up for the lack of separation between passengers while seated. 
 

It’s actually surprising to see the level of compliance that I’ve witnessed, considering the number of people traveling, many who may not believe in all of these procedures. But they also know that the airline that I fly on has made it very clear that no compliance will earn them, not only to be kicked off a flight, but also to be placed on a “no fly” list and be banned from flying. Nobody wants to take that risk for the sake of protest. 
 

I know that not all airlines are the same, but I’m very satisfied with what I’ve witnessed so far. As much as I’ve flown during this pandemic, I would’ve expected to have been infected by now if these procedures weren’t effective or adhered to. Thankfully it hasn’t happened. After all these months traveling as frequently as I have, i do feel safer flying than going to a local supermarket or restaurant. 

 

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Our son in law travels for his business every week, and in his experience, American does the worst job in terms of mask enforcement, spacing while boarding or exiting the plane, and distancing while on the plane.  He has been impressed with the way other airlines, including Southwest and Delta, have handled these same issues, and prefers to fly with those airlines.  He no longer books with American at all.  Everyone has to decide how willing they are to deal with the risks, but I thought our SIL's analysis was interesting since he has no choice but to fly several times a week, has a child who is at higher risk, and is doing everything he can to minimize the risks of bringing COVID home.

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19 minutes ago, Damaris1900 said:

Our son in law travels for his business every week, and in his experience, American does the worst job in terms of mask enforcement, spacing while boarding or exiting the plane, and distancing while on the plane.  He has been impressed with the way other airlines, including Southwest and Delta, have handled these same issues, and prefers to fly with those airlines.  He no longer books with American at all.  Everyone has to decide how willing they are to deal with the risks, but I thought our SIL's analysis was interesting since he has no choice but to fly several times a week, has a child who is at higher risk, and is doing everything he can to minimize the risks of bringing COVID home.

From what's in the UK press today, wont need to worry much about AA as 19000 jobs to go and seriously downsizing after job protection ends. Wonder which of AA, United, Delta will be the first to go under? In Europe many established airlines will not come out of the pandemic.

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@Damaris1900, I wish your son in law all the best as he balances his necessary travel with protecting his family, himself, and everyone he comes in contact with.  I often count my blessings that I have very little necessary travel, even locally, these days.

 

@GrJ Berkshire, from what I've read, UA will be announcing cuts/furloughs next week, Delta hopes get to November, and Southwest thinks they can get through 2020, assuming no changes occur.  

 

That said, every day seems to bring an event that would have seemed unbelievable a year ago, doesn't it?

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