My First Pandemic Flight — With a Basic Economy Fare
I cannot remember the last year in which I did not travel as a passenger aboard an airplane, and the year 2020 almost became the first year in which I did not travel by airplane in years.
The reason was not because of the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic itself. Rather, the reason was because of how human beings and society in general have responded to it — as well as the uncertainty with how the reaction has been handled — including but not limited to what I have stated in greater detail in this article…
…but a sale by Delta Air Lines prompted me to bite the bullet, pull the trigger — or use whatever tired old cliché you like — and purchase a round-trip ticket between Atlanta and Denver for only $96.20, which is an excellent deal that even ultra-low-cost carriers were unable to match.
My First Pandemic Flight — With a Basic Economy Fare
Enough time must have elapsed from the last time I flew as a passenger aboard an airplane operated by Delta Air Lines, as I do not recognize what are new kiosks to me. I checked in for both my origination and return flights with them during my trip.
Every other seat in public seating areas had adhesive stickers advising distancing oneself from others to stay safe…
…but fortunately, the policy of leaving the middle seat vacant aboard airplanes by Delta Air Lines was still in effect at the time; so the gate area was not crowded. Then again, the airport in general was not crowded, either.
The electronic overhead displays constantly reminded passengers that the airplane which was being used for the flight to Denver was currently being sanitized and inspected…
…as well as the fact that masks or coverings for the face are required to be worn by passengers of Delta Air Lines…
…and if anyone missed the message pertaining to the requirement of wearing a mask or covering for the face, he or she was reminded when boarding the aircraft by a sign affixed to a stanchion — as well as by a gate agent over the public address system.
Another sign reminded passengers of CareStandard by Delta Air Lines, which is designed to assure passengers of the cleanliness of the aircraft which they are about to board.
Upon boarding the airplane, each passenger was handed a packet with a single hand sanitizing wipe by a member of the flight crew.
Outside of each lavatory was a bottle of liquid hand sanitizer, which can be seen in the upper right corner of the photograph next to the illuminated indicator of whether the lavatory was currently in use.
A closer look at the monitor on the back of the seat revealed residue that it was indeed wiped. I must admit that the interior of the aircraft on both the origination flight and return flight — which were aboard an Airbus A321 airplane and a Boeing 757-200 airplane respectively — did seem spotlessly clean in general.
In an effort to reduce transmission of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, the only food and beverages served in all classes were enclosed in clear resealable zippered bags, which if saved seem ideal to use to transport liquids through the security checkpoints at airports.
The bags for both the origination flight and the return flight contained two large Biscoff cookies, a small bag of Pepperidge Farm Goldfish cheddar cheese crackers, a single packet of a hand sanitizer wipe, a small bottle of water, a napkin…
…and a folded card which advertised that passengers can send messages to anyone free of charge on one side anytime during the flight; and explained the CareStandard program on the other side.
“The world has been waiting for you. So have we. We’re so glad to see you.” The message you just read — which was on the small bottle of water which was given to every passenger as part of the aforementioned bag of snacks — is certainly better than the one which was misread on what has come to be known as the suicide napkins for at least 15 months and was first introduced during the spring of 2018.
The same message was reiterated on the screen on the back of each seat, with the added words “and hope you enjoy the flight.”
If the other aforementioned messages about wearing a mask or covering for the face were not enough, passengers are reminded from the monitors on the backs of the seats in front of them aboard the airplane.
The process of exiting the airplane has changed as well: passengers are requested to allow some extra space between each other by remaining seated until the aisle is clear in front of them.
Basic Economy on Delta Air Lines
Years have passed since the last time I purchased a basic economy fare with Delta Air Lines — but other than not being able to select a seat assignment prior to the flight, the experience was generally not unlike the typical regular economy class experience.
Then again, I travel light — so baggage allowances typically do not affect me. Other than a wider seat and being able to board the airplane sooner, upgrading to a seat in the Comfort+ or first class sections would not have benefited me. I boarded with my row number and not absolutely last on both flights.
Overall, the Basic Economy experience with Delta Air Lines was fine. I had no complaints.
Some people still have not traveled yet. Some people are starting to travel again. Some people have been traveling as though the pandemic never existed — so I realize that I may be late with a first airplane travel experience during the current pandemic when compared to others.
I did not like being required to wear a mask or covering for the face throughout the experience — but I complied. I did not use one single hand sanitizing wipe throughout my entire trip. I also miss being able to order orange juice and having other options for food. Even the option of purchasing food was not available on a flight of two to three hours between Atlanta and Denver…
…but I did like the distancing aspect — as I said in past articles, I practiced the concept long before the current pandemic arrived. I enjoyed fewer crowds overall. I like the lower prices of airline tickets, gasoline, and other items.
The experience was pleasant overall — and the price of the airfare was certainly right…
…and I intend to detail other aspects of my trip during the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic — including lodging, renting a car, dining out, airport security checkpoint procedures, and places which I visited.
I am not going to recommend that you travel via airplane now — especially if you are not ready or are fearful to do so. That is not for me to decide…
…but I have been more than ready to travel as a passenger aboard an airplane for months — and not once did I ever feel like I was not safe throughout my entire journey. I would certainly travel via airplane again without hesitation — but that is only my personal opinion.
All photographs ©2020 by Brian Cohen.