In case you are wondering what airports and flights are like these days as we enter into Phase 1 and 2 of Opening the Economy, I made some observations on my flight from National Airport across the river from Washington, D.C. to San Jose, CA. It is an introvert’s delight.
First, when looking at flight options, I noticed that Soutwest had only a couple of daily flights form each of the three airports that we usually use, National, Dulles, and Baltimore-Washington. Usually, I like to catch the early flight out of any of these, around 6 a.m. But, 7 a.m. out of BWI was the earliest option, and the furthest drive for us. The only other option was the 11 a.m. flight from National. Dulles did not even have flights that day.
We left West Virginia around 6 a.m. as the drive usually takes about 2 1/2 hours, but theoretically, this is a Tuesday with Rush-Hour into D.C. We arrived in 2 hours and 25 minutes. One other car was at the drop off point. One passenger was at the check in desk. Four TSA officers and me at security (“Pease remove your mask for a second, sir”). Seven passengers were at the gates (1 – 9). Dunkin Donuts was closed. No was was browsing the merchandise aisle. Most of the magazines were sold out and only a few books were lined up. Good that I have a trilogy of Issac Asimov sci-fi novels to read (The Foundations series from the 1950… Red Scare dystopia, anyone?).
I have no difficulty taking a seat next to the electronic devise recharge station, and appear to frighten away the other passenger sitting on the other side, especially when I whip out my sani-wipes and clean off the seat before I sit down. It probably has not been sat in since cleaning last night, but a little vigilance gave me an open area, as she wandered off to a seat about 20 feet away. Just call me, O-Scare! (I also have my Wheeling Nailers hockey team hoodie for similar effect… Watch out, I’ll hip check you for that window seat).
The National to Chicago flight had about 30 passengers and 24 rows. The Chicago to Portland leg of the flight was “full” which meant that every aisle and window seat was filled, but the middle seats were empty (I suggested that the guy sitting in the aisle could put his backpack under the middle seat, as his legs were longer than mine). That Wheeling Nailer hoodie appeared effective as my row was the last filled on the plane. From Portland to San Jose, we had maybe 50 passengers, leaving me the row to my self. I just about finished volume one of he trilogy on that flight.
At Chicago airport, I saw numerous vendors whose stalls were closed with signs directing me to walk from terminal B to terminal A for shops that would be open. This turned out to be one Hudson News shop, a bar, a burger place, and pizza place. Of course the last three were next to each other, so rather than spreading us out, it congregated everyone from terminal B & A into the same 100 feet of terminal hallway. I walked back to the lone newsstand that had prepared sandwiches.
I arrived in bustling San Jose International Airport about 6:45. After stopping at the bathroom, where I had my choice of 3 stalls and 4 urinals, plus room to ballroom dance with mirrors and no audience… I came back to find two other people in the terminal. I had trouble finding the exit doors because there was no flow of departing passengers to mindlessly follow. After a cross country flight, who wants to have to think about how to get out.
My bro had no difficulty finding me or pulling up to the curb to pick me up. There were only two other parties and vehicles in front of the terminal.
Ironically, in the evenings around my family’s neighborhood, after dinner when the temperatures cool off, the Zombie-Stay-At-Home-Workers, with the spouses and children all suddenly emerge and walk around. I have never seen so many people out enjoying a stroll (except in Spain where they have the tradition of the evening passada). Maybe someday, they will feel comfortable greeting each other, and maybe even begin to recognize their neighbors. Let’s open up the economy, but not too quickly that we miss the opportunity to learn what community is about.