My first trip back on an airplane was this week and it was much smoother than I expected. I flew Southwest Airlines on the way there and had to fly American Air on the way home. The flights From San Diego to Phoenix and Phoenix to San Diego were scarce and the timing wasn’t convenient for both legs so I had to divide and conquer on my airlines.
My flight on Tuesday morning was at 10:15 am. I had read on the San Diego International Airport website that there were gate and security closures and that parking was not available easily so I had my husband drop me off earlier than usual. I got to the airport an hour and ten minutes ahead of my flight. I felt like my dad who generally gets to the airport 3 hours early. My 70 minutes was his 3 hours. I usually cut it pretty close but, I don’t advise cutting it close right now, especially your first time flying. There are things to consider that popped up that I had not anticipated:
Make sure your mask and hand sanitizer are accessible and in front pockets.
Get to the airport early
Be patient and anticipate gate and security re-routes and changes.
Eat before you go or bring snack/beverages with you.
I went to San Diego airport terminal 2, gate 8. Everything was very clearly marked and the airport was so clean. The airport requires you to wear a mask and it appeared that everyone—passengers and staff complied. They had super cute surfboard stickers on the ground mapping out the 6 foot social distancing. I took many pictures and the Southwest staff actually smiled for a couple. Most of the food outlets in the gate area were closed as there would be no way to social distance. Einstein Bagels was open and cranking out coffee and bagels. This was the first time I wore lipstick and a mask which was interesting. I don’t think I’d make that choice again. It’s steamy under that mask with glasses on, even inside, so I had to make a vision choice at some point and toss my spectacles back into my purse.
There was no dedicated TSA line so they gave me a card. Everyone goes through together, 6 feet socially distanced. This was fine since the airport was only 20% full. However, once air travel picks back up, I can see how this extra process can make going through security a little longer. And, most of us were awkwardly fumbling around for our masks,ID’s and hand sanitizer etc so that adds a couple extra minutes to the journey.
The signage at the San Diego airport was excellent. I knew exactly where to go when different areas were closed, they clearly rerouted me and it was easy.
I clocked in at 30 minutes at the airport and counted 3 hand washes and 2 hand sanitations
As I waited to board, a lady in the distance coughed through her mask and everyone around audibly gasped. It was interesting people watching. Everyone has so many versions of masks. Some have hospital masks, home made cloth masks, bandanas, neck rollups and even one man had a Halloween costume devil mask.
Southwest boarded in groups of 10. They left the middle seat open. I read somewhere that the window seat has the lowest chance of germ spread, so I opted for a window seat. The lady in the aisle was a chatty Kathy so I put my headphones on quickly. We “shared” the middle seat for storage. I put my purse there and she put her pillow with a cat face on it. That cat faced pillow was creeping up on my purse so I relinquished the shared storage space quickly and moved it to my lap. She was NOT concerned about sharing anything—words, seats, cat pillows. I think she offered me a mint at one point which I declined.
The flight was about 30% full and it was an easy flight. Everyone was pleasant and patient.
When I got to the hotel, I expected a ghost town but I got a really good vibe. They felt fully staffed even though I knew they weren’t. They were at 30% occupancy, but it felt like more.
In Arizona, no one wore masks—none of the guests at the hotel or restaurants. All the staff at the hotels and restaurants wore masks and gloves but the patrons did not.
The hotel operating hours for most things were staggered. For example, the pool bar was open until 5 pm and the lobby bar opened at 5 pm. So, when my site inspection ended, when it was 4:45 and we wanted a drink, we couldn’t get too comfy at the pool bar because we’d get kicked out in 15 minutes, but, we had to wait outside of the other bar for it to open at 5 pm. Not a big deal but something to think about when planning out a schedule. Not all the shops and restaurants were open in the hotel and there was no room service.
There were two awesome restaurants open in the hotel so that made dinner on night 1 and night 2 easy choices.
The spa was open before I got there, but they closed it last minute the day I arrived. I was not going to do any services, but I did overhear a couple of guests grumbling about wanting to set appointments when they arrived and being bummed it closed. This is normal and to be expected in these opening phases. Staffing levels will be watched closely and probably changed frequently as hotels learn how guests will move through their properties.
We saw two hotels, three restaurants and two golf courses while in Scottsdale and it was a very successful trip. The sales people wore masks but asked if we were OK that they didn’t, we were. At the restaurants inside the hotels I was amazed that it felt like a normal restaurant. It was 50% full and the staff wore masks but, it actually felt like a nice normal dining experience. I did notice the front desk agents and staff at the restaurants had to talk extra loud through their masks. I thought that had to be frustrating for them so I was doing my best to be a good listener.
I took my first Uber since February 28th on my way from the hotel to the airport to go home. This was a clean and pleasant experience too. All Uber riders are required to wear masks and riders are too. Normally it’s 50/50 on the cleanliness of the cars and I found this one to be quite clean and a comfortable ride. No issues at all and I’d do it again.
When I got to the airport, I noticed some closures. I needed to go to gate B4. Security was closed for Gates B and D so the signage re-routed me to security for Gate A. I eventually found my way around without incident but it did take a little extra time. My big airport take away is give yourself a little extra time for unexpected closures and covid equipment shuffles. Once I got the hang of it, I was fine.
I flew American home. This was not as clean, welcoming and organized as Southwest, but they made up for it in the air. When I got on my flight, there, were people in every seat in my row. When I picked my seat the night before, the middle seat was open. I was surprised but it was fine. I approached the attendant and asked her if she can move me to a seat where no one is next to me. She quickly found one, and no problem, she moved me and it was all good, no questions asked. The flight was 40% full.
All and all it was an easy travel experience. My big take away is give yourself extra time at the airport, eat/drink before, and bring a mask so you can wear it if you want to feel comfortable or if required. I can’t wait to get back on the road for my next site inspection.
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