After not flying for 6 months, I finally ventured onto a plane last week to be pleasantly surprised by most of the experience with a little disappointment thrown in.  We all know that COVID-19 has affected just about everything in our lives, including air travel. Airlines and airports have implemented changes to make the experience safer for travelers.

More Flexibility

I’m thrilled to say that Delta, United, and American Airlines followed suit with Southwest and did away with change fees for domestic flights. That means if you book a flight and decide to postpone it, you can change your flight dates without the $200 penalty many airlines charged. Do note, you do not get a refund unless you purchase a refundable ticket. Here’s a great article to get more details about each airline’s policies.

Greater Communication

Communication is so important, and in the age of COVID, more is better when it comes to flying. I even received text and email notifications from United reminding me of the mask rules and to social distance upon arrival at the airport.

Airport Adjustments

Though security is generally the same (bring wipes or hand sanitizer for touching those bins!), you will see changes in the airport. I saw many seats blocked off at the gates to encourage social distancing, and heard frequent reminders of the safety protocol. Maybe half the restaurants were open.

Safety in the SkyClub

Don’t expect to see a buffet. Instead, lounges like the Delta SkyClub have individually packaged snacks. And though you have to go to the bar to order a drink, you can still toast to getting back to travel!

Masks On!

While walking through the airport, sitting at the gate and during the boarding process and in-flight, airlines are requiring all passengers to wear masks. While I did see a few passengers taking off their masks, I do believe that many airlines are doing a good job cracking down on offenders to keep everyone safe.

Boarding Process

Purell wipe & snacks from Delta and United

For some airlines, the boarding process will feel more normal, though it may take longer and everyone must wear a mask. Delta and United have implemented a boarding from the back strategy and only boards a few rows at a time. Those who are in First Class or Sky Priority can board at any time. Airlines are also handing out hand sanitizer and/or a wipe so that you can clean your area.

Limited In-Flight Service

Not much has changed here. As before COVID, your in-flight food and beverage services depends on your class of service (Economy, Premium Economy, Business, etc) and the length of your flight. For some shorter flights, there is no service, even if you are in First Class, so pack your refreshments accordingly. If you do get snacks or a beverage, it is most likely small bottle of water and a salty or sweet treat.


Masks required on flights

Wearing a mask is required on all flights.

Middle Seats Blocked (Sometimes!)

United did not block any seats.  As a matter of fact, my flight was completely booked. However, they did send me an email letting me know the plane was full and allowed me to change flights at no extra charge if I chose to do so.  Delta stands apart from the rest again with their commitment to blocking the middle seats. It may not put you six feet from your next passenger, but it does give you a little more room to breathe (with your mask on, of course!).

Though the air travel experience wasn’t perfect, I can tell you that the joy of traveling for me far outweighed any inconvenience. Whether you are ready to take to the skies, prefer a trip within driving distance, or aren’t quite ready to travel, Beyond Boutique here to help you navigate the changes and plan your perfect getaway.

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