I’m Flying For The First Time Since The Pandemic

For the longest time, flying has been a comfort of sorts. The night before, I wouldn’t get much sleep. Not because I was nervous, but because I was excited. For me, the journey was almost as exciting as the destination. If you’re reading this blog, you probably feel a similar way.

That all changed with COVID. People like Ben and Jon who flew almost weekly haven’t flown in months. They even resorted to taking a road trip recently! Personally, I haven’t flown since February. While I wasn’t flying quite as frequently as Ben and Jon, I’d still fly about once a month. After a long time off though, I’m finally getting back in the air next week.

Why I’m Flying

Juuuuust a few bags

Let’s be clear on this, I’m not flying because I want to. I’m flying because we’re finally moving back to the US next week. I see things continuing to get worse across the US and it gives me pause. I’ve been itching to travel again, but it’s not exactly the ideal time to be doing it.

Under normal circumstances we’d be really excited, but this just feels weird. Unfortunately, there aren’t exactly a ton of ways to move across the Atlantic without relying on shared transportation. Until the Jetsons cars become a thing, I can’t just hop in a car and drive from the UK to the US.

What I’m Most Nervous About

While I don’t expect it to look quite like this, crowds are still a concern

For me, the past four months have included little to no outside interaction. Aside from seeing people from a distance on walks, I’ve more or less been completely isolated. While you might not know it just from looking at me, I fall in the high-risk category because of a weakened immune system. Because of that, it’s been extremely important for us to avoid other people. Up until now, we’ve been able to do a really good job of that too.

The hardest thing is that there are going to be so many elements that are out of our control. I think One Mile At A Time summed it up pretty well, but if I’m on a walk and see someone coming at me, I can cross the street. If I want to avoid people at home, I can do that. At the airport though, that’s not going to be possible. From the time we get picked up to the time we arrive back in the US, we’re pretty much at the mercy of the circumstances.

Are there things we can do? Sure. You can bet we’ll be taking as many precautions as possible. Ultimately though, I’m sure there will be at least a few uncomfortable moments during our travels.

I Think I’m Also Kind Of Excited?

There’s also part of me that’s really excited to be back in the sky. Over the years, flying has almost become something therapeutic to me. From the roar of the engines, to that feeling of the wheels lifting off, to relaxing in the sky and enjoying the views, it all just feels so right.

I’m also very curious to see what the entire process is like. While I’ve read a few accounts so far, things are constantly changing. I’m not entirely sure what to expect. While travel is starting to pick back up in the UK, I still expect Heathrow to be a ghost town compared to what it was before. There are also a bunch of other things I’m curious about, like:

  • Will the check-in experience be any different?
  • Will people actually maintain social distancing going through security?
  • What will the lounge offerings look like?
  • How different will onboard service be? Will the crew keep their distance or offer fairly normal service with PPE?

I’m sure it will be a stressful experience – at least to start, but I’m optimistic that it will become more comfortable as we go along. I can’t have my anxiety level be at 100 for 10+ hours, right??

Is There Anything You Want To Know?

Half the fun of this blog is sharing experiences with you and writing about things that interest you. That’s why I’m asking to see what you guys are interested in. If you have any questions, feel free to drop them in the comments over the next week. I’ll try to answer as many as possible in a follow-up post later in the week. (For reference, we’ll be flying American with one leg in international business class and the connecting leg in domestic first class.)

Any questions or advice? Leave it comments below!

Author: Stephen Hoechst

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  1. Kudos to you guys for having the courage to fly again despite your weakened immune system. I’m curious what you plan to wear at the airport? Obviously you’ll wear a facemask, but do you plan on also wearing a face shield, perhaps one of those new vyzr hazmat suits, etc.? Also, I heard a few adults are opting to wear diapers as well to avoid having to go and use the public restroom in the airport/airplane.

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    • Hey Joey – thanks for the kind words. We’re currently planning to go with N95 masks and over-ear headphones, but still on the fence about a few other things. I don’t think we’ll go quite as far as some of the options you’ve mentioned (the cabin looks pretty sparse as of today), but still we’re considering a few other items. We’ll keep you posted!

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  2. My son and I travelled New York to Germany on July 30 onto 31st. Lufthansa German Airlines currently offers 3 times weekly service Newark-Munich (LH413) on state-of the-art Airbus A350s, the youngest individual A350-ship may be mere months old.
    We took a Lyft car from Connecticut. The first driver disliked the length of the potential ride. So despite being a little later than planned, the replacing driver, his beautiful Mercedes and super comfy ride was fabulous and more than made up for the first person to show then deny (and I hope for another amazing experience on the ride home upon my return).
    The experience at Newark with Lufthansa could not have been better. Although Economy “Light”, the 21″ (carryon-sized) bag (deemed “oversize”) was checked at no additional charge, security took less than 5 minutes and boarding was very unhurried (the aircraft was around 50% full, mostly transfer traffic).
    The flight was excellent too – starting with a cluster of 3 seats for each of us (and most other passengers in the rear cabin), last two rows were completely empty both along the wall/center, a full attentive service was provided in German, English and Italian including a tasty hot pasta dinner with salad; water, soft drinks and beer at heart’s desire and a, albeit paltry semblance of breakfast – a muffin with three bits of mixed fruit (remember all in Economy). A good tailwind assisted in a relatively short Ocean crossing (total 6:50h flight time), excellent flight and destination weather throughout and a slightly early block-in in the main area of Terminal 2 made for a memorable experience. Passengers were dis-embarked by zones, a more orderly process in tribute to the pandemic that did not inconvenience at all.

    The Government of Bavaria mandates travellers remaining in Germany to proceed, in most direct manner to their final accomodation and self-quarantine for 14 days, also to register with the local Health authority (Gesundheitsamt) within 72h of arrival and produce a negative test result to lift the quarantine requirement. The entire US are considered “high-risk”, as are the majority of the world (for sheer ignorance?) and with return of the initial vacationers now a good part of Europe and Turkey are also deemed such. Of course not enough testing is done in the US with asymptomatic individuals (to the point of denial) and even then, the time to obtain results are far in excess of the required maximum 48h since testing (more like 4…7 days in Connecticut). To assist travellers, Bavaria had set up airport facilities in the center open-air area of Munich airport to submit to voluntary testing. That testing is now mandatory (since apprx. 07 August) unless the aforementioned recent negative test can be produced in English or German language by the individual. The testing facility at the airport was manned by volunteers, which, although friendly may make communication a challenge when not fluent in German. The whole process (throat swab) took about 40 minutes incl. registration – be wary of “small” errors such as erroneous date of birth, date sample was taken etc. so photograph your form before it’s turned in!

    The significance was: the test may produce false positive results which MUST be reported to the Gesundheitsaemter (pl. both local, state and federal levels) so expect a telephone call not just for friendly “check-in” but also vastly increased quarantine, especially when staying with family in one home!

    Both of us and the family member hosting us took follow-up nose-sample tests some 4 days later which all came up negative but, alas no relief – once in the system, YOU’RE IN! The “positive” testee was free within 10 days of test results, the other traveller and host on the hook for 10+14 days = 24 days. So much for a “US traveller vacation” (can you even qualify for 10 calendar days in a row?)

    The local authorities do follow-up calling multiple times a week, ideally you are asked to take your temperature twice a day and keep a record in a manner that would honor any CPA. A “breaking of quarantine” by leaving the house/yard limits for any distance or any reason carries a minimum penalty of EUR 150 (apprx. USD 180) upon first offense, per individual, but multiple or cases involving more of the populace might cost as much as EUR 25,000 (USD 30,000).

    Visitors will receive a written notice through the mail and Your German skills should be significantly above “intermediate” conversational level. Any attempt to appeal will be thwarted by the requirement to advance “processing costs” and likely time to obtain a hearing exceeding even the “extended” quarantine.

    Quite clearly: You’d better have good reason to go! Not to stop you, but we won’t be rewarding the Federal Republic of Germany nor the State of Bavaria with the usual “tourist effects” – sorely needed business revenues and sales-taxes et al. We’re under imposed “lockdown”!

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