Before the pandemic, spending time in a closed space with well over 100 people for a few hours never used to daunt me. Now, however, I am hesitant to travel long distances by plane; I prefer to drive when possible. This past weekend I flew to Detroit – a roughly one hour flight each way – which seemed more appealing than a 10 hour drive to and from Long Island. I swallowed my apprehension, convincing myself that one hour was not too bad. I was on a small plane though, so it felt extremely crowded. Before, I would have gone on and on about how cute and small the plane is, but this weekend all I could think was: “Why are there so many people? This was a terrible idea.” It felt like we were all breathing down each other’s necks and it was an uncomfortable hour.
I did appreciate that everyone at the airport and on the flight, from staff to other passengers, were wearing their masks the entire time. Thankfully, I was not on a flight with aggressive passengers refusing to wear masks and had a mostly peaceful ride, besides the mild turbulence. However, neither vaccine cards nor COVID-19 tests were checked at security or upon checking in with my airline, Delta. I was only asked three yes-or-no questions: will you wear a mask on the flight, have you experienced symptoms of COVID-19 or been exposed to it and have you been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 10 days. I know that most travel restrictions have been lifted for domestic travel so it is not necessary to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test prior to traveling, but I do not think asking three questions is the solution. The questionnaire was similar to the Campus Pass implemented by the University in the fall of 2020 and it raises the same concern I had: are people telling the truth on the questionnaire? I would have felt safer knowing that my fellow passengers (and classmates) were all vaccinated.
Restrictions have lightened, but the coronavirus is still a threat. I know I took my precautions when traveling: always wearing a mask, washing my hands, excessively using my hand sanitizer, wiping down common surfaces before I use them and keeping six feet away from everyone when standing in line. I can only hope that other travelers do their part as well to keep themselves and others safe in the air.