With the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the aviation industry has taken a serious economic hit.
Major airlines have reduced their flights by 80 to 90%. Airport food courts and shops are experiencing the lowest traffic since 9/11. On March 28, the TSA screened just 184,026 passengers—a drop of over 90% from the same day last year. Normally-packed flights are empty.
The $2 trillion government relief package, a response to the coronavirus outbreak, includes $50 billion for airlines.
Still, some people are flying. One of TheStreet's freelance video producers, Roland Marconi, flew from New York City to Texas on March 22.
Here's a first-person diary of his observations:
As a freelance, independent video producer I often travel for video shoots out of town. Some of them are planned well in advance and are timely in nature. So before the coronavirus crisis hit the U.S., I agreed to video record a health retreat in rural Texas.
As the date got closer and the coronavirus ramped up, I had some serious misgivings and trepidation about traveling. But after doing a lot of research, I decided to go, taking care to protect myself and those around me. Luckily, I am healthy and not immunocompromised.
Heading to LaGuardia airport on the afternoon of March 22 was kind of eerie. Very few people were out and only a handful of people were at the airport check-in desks.
Practically all of the restaurants were closed and only Starbucks and the convenience stores were open. There were just a few people traveling. I kept thinking to myself, “all of these people are probably trying to get home and I'm going far away from it. What am I doing?”
Fortunately, I had taken a lot of precautions, including wearing a mask and latex gloves and carrying a spray bottle of 99% alcohol that I used to clean the airplane seat.
Despite my misgivings, it was very pleasant to be out of the city for a few days and away from the fear and tension that has become pervasive in what has become the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S. My only real fear was some heightened declaration of emergency which would prevent me from returning home. Rural Texas is quite beautiful but I didn't want to get stuck there.
Well, I did manage to return home after three days via the single terminal Dallas airport that was even more deserted than when I arrived. Since then, the crisis has continued to escalate and I doubt I will be traveling anywhere else in the near future.
With some carefully thought out sanitizing procedures I was able to travel with relative safely in a world that has completely changed from what we're all used to, but what has remained a constant is that it's always good to be home.
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