As the summer has unfolded and the restrictions have loosened with regards to masking and social distancing, a number of people have resumed travel.
Many are rushing to book flights to destinations anywhere but where they are currently located. Some brave enough to venture overseas. Trying to catch the window of when both their home country and state are in alignment with the destination country access policies.
But first, pull out and dust off that passport. And for a few, the original excitement gives way to dismay in finding out that over the past 18 months passports have expired. No worry, you may say. Just get it renewed. Maybe expedited.
Ah. Not so easy.
It appears there is a delay as more and more people purchase international tickets. Regular passports that used to take 1-2 months now take 3-4 months. Expedited has moved from 2-4 weeks to 6-8 weeks.
Best move that flight further out or go domestic.
Ah domestic flights.
Booking your flight, hotel, ground transportation.
Wake up early to get to the airport on time so as to check in your baggages and get to the gate on time.
You’ve factored in the security checkpoints, anything new regarding Covid, you have this under control.
And then your phone app alerts you that your flight is delayed.
No problem. You have the airline app and can quickly change flights. But wait- it is not showing the alternative flight seating and requires you to confirm a change sight unseen.
Ok, you will not panic.
You call the contact number to quickly resolve this with an agent.
And are placed on hold as “sorry for the wait as we are experiencing a higher than usual volume of calls…”
One hour and eight minutes later (yes this is a true story) the agent says that you will be redirected to another flight that has a 12 hr layover or you can try again tomorrow.
Meanwhile you were smart enough to call on your way to the airport and are now on line to check in. The agent at the desk wishes you luck.
Finding no other choice or flight available- you concede.
Boarding pass in hand you walk to security.
And here staff are yelling at the top of their voices at all the passengers to “Remove your shoes and place electronics in separate bins!” For those who inadvertently forgot or couldn’t understand the ruckus, a staff member is more than willing to carry your bin above their head shouting and shaming “Who’s bag is this?! Who left their electronic device in their bag?! Take it out and put it in a separate bin!!!”
Customer service at its finest.
And so you emerge from this area and go to your seating area or the lounge (which is already crowded).
And you wait.
Because your flight has been delayed yet again.
But on the bright side, now your layover will only be 10 hours.
Breathe in, breathe out. (Through your mask of course).
This is a moment to reflect and be grateful for the opportunity to travel by air when a year ago it was a distant hope.
Hand sanitizer, mask and watchful checking of the distance between you and others…ok…you are good.
And so you wait.
But it will be worth it in the end.