We just finished a roundtrip commercial flight on Delta for a trip from our hometown of Atlanta to Jackson, Wyoming. This was our maiden flight post-new world virus era.
We traveled as a family – my husband, myself, our 12-year-old daughter and 9-year-old identical twin boys.
Coronavirus travel is a whole new level of unknowns and anxiety, so I thought a review of the trip would be helpful for some of you.
Booking the Flight: Lots of Seats, Not Many Available
Our trip was somewhat planned. When we decided to take this vacation, COVID was absolutely part of the world, and the cases were rising where we lived. We booked our flight around 6 weeks in advance. This is last minute by some people’s standard, but fairly typical for how we plan trips. We aren’t as buttoned up as a lot of people – we are more “travel on a whim” type of people.
Usually, living in Atlanta, the Delta hub, we have zero issues finding flights to where we want to fly. There’s usually at least two a day, if not one on the hour to most major cities around the US.
Out of the several flights available to Jackson, there was only one flight available for us to choose – literally one. The others around the timeframe we were looking at were booked solid. There was plenty of room on each plane, but Delta is only selling 2/3 of their seats, leaving the middle seats empty in coach, and only one seat per row in First Class. So there were actually plenty of flights available to Jackson, we just couldn’t book them.
There was only one flight with five seats available. Both First class and Comfort + were sold out so we took the coach seats. Not much choice.
The fact that Delta is not selling every seat was more than fine with me. We were nervous about Coronavirus travel. I applaud their efforts to make every safety precaution available to make us “feel” safe – I’ll save the science about whether it really is safe with the air for another blogger more qualified than me. But as for mental thoughts, it calmed my Mommy brain to not be piled on top of each other.
Issues Booking the Flight
Let’s talk about the process of actually booking the flight. We have some Delta e-credits to use, thanks to some 2020 international trips we had to cancel. Delta’s website isn’t equipped to let us cash those in online, so I had to call the phone number in order to make reservations.
Want to take a guess how long it took to get a person on the phone? Take a guess. 30 hours. Yes, it took 30 hours to get a callback. After 24 hours, I got antsy and had forgotten my husband had Platinum Medallion status so I used his special phone number. His wait? 7 hours.
So, 30 hours later I got a very nice Delta representative on the phone to help me secure these 5 seats to Jackson. Aye Yai Yai.
The Atlanta Airport Experience
So off we go. When we got to Hartsfield-Jackson airport we masked up. Masks during Coronavirus travel times aren’t required at this airport (aren’t the headlines of our state government fighting over masks fun?), but I did not see one person not wearing one. Every person was wearing a mask. That made me happy! 😷
I would say Hartsfield was about 10% full. A lot of restaurants and most of the shops were closed. Only a few convenience type stores were open and a handful of restaurants.
The security line was vacant. We use CLEAR and that had a pretty small line, but it’s usually always fairly easy.
We had planned to get there as close to our boarding time as possible. This time we did not want to get to the airport early and hang out! The security line is a non-issue so plan accordingly.
Tips for Germs In Security
- In the security lines, the buckets to load your suitcase onto aren’t cleaned. You’re going to have to suck this up because you can’t disinfect them. Either wear gloves or have sanitizer at the ready.
- We did not let our kids load their luggage onto the belts for this reason. My husband and I handled it and made them step back and not touch anything.
- The airport has kindly thought of this and has a sanitizing dispenser right after security.
Tips for Navigating Airport for Coronavirus travel
- Have your kids wear something with pockets. That way you can have them stick their hands in them to avoid touching things. You could wear gloves, but that doesn’t stop the whole touching the face thing. We are trying to help break the face touching habit. The pockets help.
- Hang sanitizing lotion from their backpack. Keep it right within reach so there’s no reaching.
- Buy masks that hang around your neck when you’re not wearing them so you don’t lose them.
- Have a pack of sanitizing wipes in outside of their backpacks, carry on’s, your purses for very quick access.
- Use ApplePay whenever you can to avoid contact when purchasing things.
- I brought travel Lysol to spray the bathroom area.
Noticeable Coronavirus travel changes
- The gate was the first time I saw a crowd.
- First Class still boards first, followed by passengers with babies, special needs, etc., but then they board from the back of the plane first.
- Thank goodness because this is a much more efficient way of boarding an airplane anyway!
- It eliminates people having to walk past others, too.
- When you board all flight attendants and Pilots are wearing masks.
- The flight attendants give you a Purell wipe when you board. Very cool.
Observations During Plane Ride
- There is plenty of overhead space since the plane isn’t full.
- Quiet boarding – not eerily quiet like I had read, but silent and respectful.
- Flight attendants no longer stand and do security briefing, nor walk aisles making sure your tray is up and seat are up. They walk the aisles as little as possible helping their exposure to others.
- Snack is given in a pre-sealed zip lock bag. It contains bottled water, cracker, something sweet, a Purell wipe, and a napkin.
- This is the only snack option – no other drinks, food, etc. I’m totally down with this. It was nice to have something for the kids to eat, and I felt like it was clean.
- The aircraft itself is immaculate. Seriously. I was on four different flights (factoring layover/aircraft change) and all of them were unbelievably clean.
- Apparently a cleaning crew comes in and puts down the trays for every seat and fog cleans the aircraft. Then they wipe it all down.
- I was most impressed with how the seatbelts were all carefully crossed over to help show it had been cleaned. All four aircraft looked brand spanking new.
- You can’t stop humans. No matter what the precautions are, you can’t stop humans from being, well human. When we landed we were late and many people had a connecting flight. I guess that inner need to hurry took over, and social distancing priorities went right out the window. Immediately people stood and started shoving to get out, just like they would pre-COVID. My husband and I had our kids hug the window and not get up. We waited until everyone was off to move around. 🙄
Tips for Flying with Kids
- I boarded a few minutes before my husband and kids. I had my pack of sanitizing wipes and gave myself a few solid minutes to disinfect the window seat, the tray, the handrails, anything. That way I didn’t worry about the kids getting in and touching anything Mommy hadn’t cleaned. 😉
- Bring straws – that way they can drink their water without removing their mask.
- Travel Lysol made me feel better for when they went to the restroom. Does it work? Who knows, but it helped me mentally.
- Have them bring their own headphones rather than borrow a pair. One less thing to touch.
- Go to the bathroom prior to boarding – it’s less crowded in the terminal and in a larger space. Avoid the plane bathroom if at all possible.
- Book seats strategically – I kept changing our seats up until the day of the flight. It helped me spread out best we can, and we even had one row to ourselves on all flights. The flight attendants are doing a good job of shuffling through to ensure people are spread out.
- My kids brought their own blanket – none are on board anyway.
- We had lots and lots of conversation before the plane ride that this isn’t a joking matter – quit your whining, masks stay on, and be happy we are going on vacation. We made them take this seriously.
Alright. That’s a lot of info. Watch my YouTube video about our flight experiences. And be sure to get my newsletter as I continue reviews/tips for Coronavirus travel!