Ramblings of a Tampa engineer
Face mask and toilet paper
Photo by engin akyurt / Unsplash

The travel blog has gained a post with this blog - this time discussing how travel has changed since COVID-19 struck.

For the first time ever since moving to Tampa, I drove my own car to the airport and parked it for the trip. I was uneasy trusting an Uber for the travel to/from the airport, but honestly that was nothing compared to packing into a flight with people everywhere. Though, the $66 spent in parking in a garage compared to 2 $30 Uber rides comes out about the same.

So lets talk about the airport itself. So many things are closed now and probably for good reason. You don't need to be shopping for jewelry in an airport during a pandemic, but even places such as food, tech stores and more were closed for the foreseeable future.

Tampa International - Sept 18

Outside of the shops the seating area had changed quite massively with these little social distancing stickers over the chairs. There is this unwritten airport rule that you generally don't sit right next to someone - unless you know them. So this didn't seem that different, it just led to more people standing around close together as the space itself can't grow.

The boarding procedure (for Southwest) was a bit different. Instead of boarding A1-30, then A30-60. It went more like A1-10, A11-20, A21-30, etc. This also meant that before the next 10 were allowed to board, the staff member would peek down hallway to ensure there was no line on the passage between airport and plane.

Once boarded I was glad to see that the plane was only sold to the point that 1 seat would be available in every row. So this meant that you could scan down the isle and see no middle seat - it was amazing.

Bad attempt at showing empty row - Sept 20

On the flight down, no one in the middle seat. On the flight back - no one in my entire row (as shown above). I don't know what that means to flight costs, but it is such a more enjoyable experience to fly without being placed next to randoms like sardines. Flying with a mask took some training because I either ripped out my headphones or mask when trying to eat the crackers and/or water I got.

I was happy they offered water as that always makes a flight more enjoyable with a nice ice cold drink.

Once landing it became pretty obvious that the actual 6ft social distance circle is not followed. Everyone unloading the plane in one back to back line. Everyone cramming together on the train to get back to the terminal. Everyone standing around baggage claim like they forgot COVID existed. Everyone grouping together in small terminals to wait for boarding for their flight.

I hope I stay clean after that travel, but I followed all the guidelines and walked around with mini hand sanitizers after any forced human interaction, which I recorded:

  • Tampa - garage to terminal elevator button clicks.
  • Tampa - boxes to put stuff in before security.
  • Chicago - not automatic door from terminal to garage.
  • Chicago - payment system to purchase train key card.
  • Chicago - boxes to put stuff in before security.

I was happy to see that the one manual process of humans scanning IDs for terminal access was now replacing by some automated system in Tampa.

With that - a small short blog about the changes I saw traveling during a global Pandemic. Check out the travel tag for real travels or coronavirus for COVID related blogs.

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