By S. Cory LattucaDirector of Training and Operations

I am not entirely sure what I was expecting when I travelled for the first time in the Post-COVID world. I think maybe I was hoping to see practically deserted airports, the air thick with the fog of sanitizing spray, and the shouts of the occasional “Karen” echoing down the hallways. Instead, for better or worse depending on your viewpoint, it was pretty much the exact experience as before, just with more masks.

When I arrived at the airport, everything looked about the same; lines of people at the curb and lined up inside at the counters only now everyone was wearing masks. It was when I got inside the terminal that things really started to feel different. All of the stores were closed with signs on the doors. Every single restaurant in the terminal was closed. Signs on the gates, chairs up, bars empty. Closed. It was 9 am on a Tuesday and it felt like a midnight stopover. The security line was virtually empty with only one person in front of me. Once through security (in record time), it was more of the same. Closed stores and restaurants, with a coffee shop and the convenience store being the only exception.

Finally, it was time to board. The masked flight attendants were just as “friendly” as always only this time, instead of food and drink service, we got a bag containing everything we would presumably need for the flight: bottled water, cookies and sanitizing wipes. Everyone on the plane was respectful of distancing and kept their masks on. If I was expecting drama, I was slightly disappointed. The landing and deplaning at my destination was just as uneventful as any other flight I have taken. I picked up my rental car with no issues and headed to the hotel.

If there was any part of my trip that was truly surreal, it was the hotel. When I pulled into the parking lot, I was literally the only car in the parking lot. This is not an exaggeration, not even a single employee vehicle. I wasn’t even really sure the hotel was open until I walked up and the door actually opened. I was greeted enthusiastically by a single employee behind a wall of plexiglass. Once the check-in began, he excitedly told me that my status today had earned me a free upgrade. Yes! I imagined a luxurious suite with music playing when I walked in and a bottle of chilled Champagne waiting for me. Instead, my “upgrade” was a room with an air purifier. That’s right, an air purifier. I honestly thought he was joking with me at first, but he was serious. Apparently breathing clean air these days is only for those of us who are Gold status and above.

The rest of the hotel stay was about as I had expected. Soap dispensers on the wall in the shower instead of bars. Plastic wrapped remote control. No in-room coffee. No gym to workout in. The bar and restaurant were closed and breakfast was a single yogurt or fruit cup. On the plus side, there was no bacon to tempt me this time. So…I grabbed my coffee and my yogurt and left, feeling ready to head home.

That’s it. That was my trip. Nothing dramatic. Nothing intensely different, just a bunch of travelers and employees doing the best they can in this strange new world. The most important thing though, was that I felt safe. While all the extra precautions seemed a little off-putting at times, the reality is it worked. I felt safe. Safe enough that I don’t think I will be as worried doing it again.