I have had three trips since things where shut down this past March due to COVID-19. My first trip was in June to Chicago. In June the flights were not full and fortunately Alaska Airlines has maintained a policy of keeping the middle seat empty on all their flights for Social Distancing requirements. Alaska Airlines just announced they will extend this policy on all their flights until January 6, 2021. Everyone boarding the flight is required to wear a mask. The only time you do not have to wear you mask is when you are drinking or eating. To minimize Flight Attendant interactions with passengers there was only 1 beverage service with minimal choices like water, Coke and Diet Coke. All the passengers adhered to the mask wearing policy so I felt safe throughout the flight. The air filtration system on airliner are excellent in filtering out particles.
A just released airline safety by the US Department of Defense and United Airlines conducted 300 tests in over six months with dummies in-flight to examine the possible spread of droplets. The study says the risk of COVID-19 exposure onboard its aircraft is "virtually non-existent" and when masks are worn there is only a 0.003% chance particles from a passenger can enter the passenger's breathing space who is sitting beside them.
When I arrived in Chicago, my good friend informed me of the local COVID-19 situation and any restrictions on businesses like restaurants and bars. Even though indoor seating was available at a reduced capacity we always choose to sit outdoors. We wore masks when we were walking around Chicago and everyone else was following the mask wearing rule.
When I returned from my Chicago trip, like I have done after each trip during COVID-19, I took a COVID-19 test at one of the free City of Seattle COVID-19 drive up testing centers. You can just go online and schedule an appointment and it’s free. You get the test results online within 48 hours.
My other two trips, one to Los Angeles and one to Fort Lauderdale were very similar in terms of COVID-19 safety precautions. My flights to and from Los Angeles was on Alaska Airlines so the middle seat was empty. My flights to and from Fort Lauderdale was on American Airlines. American does not have the same policy as Alaska so their middle seats were filled. Fortunately I was lucky on 3 of the 4 legs of my trip that the middle seat was empty. My last trip to Fort Lauderdale was September 30 – October 5, 2020 and the airport seemed much busier than my first trip in June. Passengers seem to be returning to flying and the volume is picking up. TSA announced last week that they screened the most passengers so far since travel dropped in March due to COVID-19.
Ernie is an avid traveler having been to 6 out of the 7 continents. After working in various tech and PR jobs, Ernie is extending his expertise to the travel industry as a travel agent with Catalyst Travel. If he's not hosting a party, a cruise trip, or rooting on the Sounders, Huskies, or Seahawks, Ernie is probably out exploring more of the world. Read more of his bio for how he can help you on your next trip.