Traveling During a Pandemic: What Can You Expect?

Hello, my name is Josh and in today’s post I will be detailing my experience flying with United Airlines during the pandemic, and what you can expect. To provide a thorough analysis, I will be dividing the post into three main sections: Getting to the airport; Airport experience; and Flight Experience. Before we get started, I think it is worth noting that everything that I tell you, is subject to my experience, and can differ from another person’s experience based on the airline and airports procedures.

Getting to the Airport

Since my flight was leaving so early in the morning, I opted to take an Uber. Our flight was leaving at 07:20  AM, and since I didn’t know how long it would take me to get through all the important airport procedures, we got to the airport at about 05:30 AM.

The Uber was rather uneventful, we had no trouble getting one. When taking an Uber, you have to wear a face covering, our driver was also wearing one, as is the norm. I have seen that on some Uber’s they have plastic barriers separating the cabin of the car, however, I didn’t experience this.

Airport Experience

The stickers

The airport, on arrival, was rather empty. Keep in mind we arrived very early, so I didn’t expect it to be very full. When you are in an airport, you are expected to wear a mask and keep social distancing. San Francisco Airport (SFO), for instance, put stickers on the floor where you should stand when you are waiting in the queue.

Due to the airport being so empty, we made it through check-in, and security in about 20-30 minutes.

After passing security, the terminal was slightly busier, however still not that busy. Most, if not all stores and restaurants were open in all the airports I was in.

As was the standard when going through before security, you still have to keep socially distanced, and stickers were placed on the floor to promote that. Since I left the house so early, I didn’t have breakfast, therefore I got some breakfast in the terminal, and found myself a secluded area where no one else was to take off my mask and eat. When eating and drinking, you can have your mask off.

When we were waiting in the gate area, from what I could see it was rather crowded, and social distancing was not observed. It is worth noting that in all the airports that I was in during this trip, they were fairly emptied, with one exception, in Houston. It was a long corridor and connects two rather large terminals.

An empty BHM

Flight Experience

When boarding, United boards from back to front, and de-boards from front to back, this is to promote social distancing.

When de-boarding, you are asked to remain seated until your row number is called, however, in one of my three flights this was not followed. If the flight isn’t full, United will try to give you a free middle seat, and if you are flying on their commuter aircraft, a free seat next to you. I saw this in action on all my flights. If you are travelling in a party of two, and are on a commuter aircraft, you can sit next to the person in your party.

Upon boarding, you receive a sanitation wipe, which can be used to wipe your seat down (as I did), or perhaps wiping your hands down. Again, you have to wear your mask at all times of the flight, except for when you are eating and drinking.

Whilst in-flight, the service has been changed a bit. You get a drink service, and then on the longer flights, you get an All-in-One snack-bag. This snack-bag consists of the usual, along with another water bottle and sanitisation wipe.


That about concludes it. I would recommend giving yourself extra time getting to the airport. I also just want to note that the crew’s I had flown with were phenomenal, along with the ground staff. Remember to be nice to people who are out there right now keeping such a vital industry running!

Joshua Grant

1 comment

  • Interesting to read, thanks for sharing.
    Vastly different from my experience where inside the terminal & through immigration – all shops, restaurants were closed, bar one or 2 food outlets.