It’s time to be realistic. While we all love traveling and are anxiously looking forward to the day in the not-too-distant future that we can get away, safely, again, there are endless irritating things about taking a trip. Whether it be getting young kids ready to leave, cramming two weeks’ worth of clothing into a suitcase made for a long weekend, stopping mail delivery, advising your credit card companies that you will be out of town, or making sure you have the right amount of prescription medication packed for you and the rest of the family, travel can be a very stressful undertaking.
Automobile travel, while it is easier in many ways than air travel, has major drawbacks. Being the driver over long distances is exhausting, and who wants to be trapped in a car or America’s favorite, a minivan, for days after day after day with screaming, hungry, bored kids? Sure, loading your car’s trunk in your driveway and heading off into the sunset is a lot easier than figuring out how to get your family of six to the airport and checked in for a flight, but we are limited to exploring the U.S. and Canada by car, when there is a fantastic world out there only discoverable by air. And until further notice, even venturing across the Canadian border is verboten.
As I write this, two coronavirus vaccines have been approved for distribution in the U.S., so there is at least hope that we may be able to safely travel worldwide again within a few months. And while air travel in my mind is the best way to get away, turning thousands of miles into nothing more than a few hours of mostly boredom and sleep, it does have a downside that will return when we take-off once again.
I have taken a few flights during COVID to visit a family member who was in hospice care in Louisville, otherwise I would have stuck close to home entirely. Thankfully, I live in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul, where Delta Air Lines operates a major hub. While flight activity has been reduced, I can still fly almost anywhere domestically nonstop from MSP. Delta has also been blocking middle seats and select aisle seats on every flight, so on the five legs flown I’ve had two seats to myself every time. The extra spacing led to a sense of comfort to be sure, and also to more than ample spacing from other travelers.
Unfortunately, as with any COVID-related experiences there are bound to be some idiots out there who either refuse to wear a mask or wear it improperly. What don’t they get about “masks save lives”? I asked a man who was waiting for a flight in the gate area and seated near me to please pull his mask back up from around his neck. He rolled his eyes but complied, and then proceeded to bring it down again during boarding and while seated before departure in his first-class seat. After advising a flight attendant of his behavior she advised him that the mask had to stay on, over his nose and mouth for the entire flight, or he would have to deplane. Thank you, Delta!
Thankfully, one thing U.S. air travelers don’t have to be concerned about is people making air-to-land telephone calls during flights. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently determined that allowing passengers to make in-flight telephone calls isn’t a good idea for a variety of reasons. The FCC is the U. S. Government agency that regulates international and domestic communications involving radio, television, satellite, and cable. While the agency didn’t say it would never happen, it did say that they couldn’t find a way to acceptable middle ground, i.e. a balance between competing interests including safety. As a frequent airline traveler, I have found it irritating enough just to have to deal with people who speak loud enough for everyone within several rows of them to hear their conversations before takeoff, and then immediately upon landing. Why they think that their phone conversations are so important that they are unable to wait until after their flight has landed and they are inside the terminal is beyond me. I applaud the FCC’s ruling wholeheartedly.
So, that’s it for now from the no-fly zone. As I’m sure you are, I’m anxious to take to the skies for a vacation just as soon as the vaccines have been distributed in ample quantity to protect us more fully from COVID-19. Until then, stay safe, keep your distance, wash your hands, and WEAR A MASK.