What’s International Travel Like During COVID-19?

TL;DR: this bitch empty, yeet.

International travel and COVID-19 seems like an unlikely and possibly perilous combination. But alas, I’ve had to do it. With news that the EU banned Americans from entering, I proactively booked a flight back into the UK from Arizona in order to ensure that I’d be able to get back into the country. Making a decision like this was undoubtedly tough, and absolutely took a lot of thought. But it didn’t end too badly. Here’s what happened throughout my travel day:

June 19th, 1:30 PM – Flight out of Arizona

The airport was a ghost town. There were around 40 people in the entire place. Almost everything was closed. Messages about the importance of social distancing and face coverings blared over the intercom. Only two flights out that afternoon. It seemed truly apocalyptic. Luckily, most people were abiding by mandatory face coverings, and I had an entire row to myself on the plane after boarding was complete. Rows in front of, beside, and behind me all only seated one person as well. Not too bad so far.

There was one guy spotted sleeping with his mouth wide open, and no face covering on (which is not only terrifying but also a violation of airline policy.) Otherwise, not too bad yet.

This image is cursed.

Landing in Dallas, Texas

Hopped off the plane at DFW. This was probably the most horrendous part of my journey. Not only were several people spotted wearing masks that didn’t cover their noses, but I had to hop onto the infamous Skylink. People were packed like sardines. I did my best not to touch anything. I hadn’t been that close to strangers since February. It felt super weird.

-2/10, did not like it.

I was fortunate to have a reasonably short layover, so I made it straight to my gate, didn’t wait in any sort of lines, and legitimately yeeted straight onto the plane. This boy was so wildly empty it was surreal. Boarding door closed, and I was in shock. I had almost an entire section of the plane to myself. It was honestly incredible. I did a big stretch during the entire flight. I now have a small understanding of how Jeff Bezos feels, but minus the whole lack of remorse or self-awareness.

June 19th, 6:40 PM – Leaving Dallas

Yee haw, we’re outta here. The flight was wildly smooth. I received almost undivided attention and a whole host of libations and snacks. Watched tons of movies. Was able to put my feet up. I was going to ask to be moved up to business class since it was empty, but I didn’t have anyone’s personal space to respect and could stretch out as much as I needed anyway. No warm food, but I had a veggie wrap. It was pretty decent.

Also, flight attendants in general are absolute saints and I have such massive respect for the job. They were absolutely fabulous the entire time, and I cannot thank them enough for doing the work they’re doing at the moment.

10/10 flight.

She’s so empty, I love it.

June 20th, 9:30 AM – Arriving in London

Almost home! At this point, I was so exhausted I legitimately could not form a sentence. I have massive trouble sleeping on planes even when I do have space, so I really just wanted to get home by now.

Upon entering Heathrow I had to fill out a form basically stating where I’m staying, saying where I’ve been, and signing away that I will in fact self-isolate for 14 days. Not a problem. Social distancing policies in Heathrow were decent, though I will say the airport was quite crowded. Upon entering customs, I handed in my form and my passport. I was quite out of it at this point, so after customs I legitimately just exited the airport. I am still not sure why or how I did this.

I eventually just turned around and went back through security. Not a massive problem.

so so so so so sleepy

June 20th, 11:30 AM – Leaving for Edinburgh (finally!)

I boarded the plane. It was surprisingly crowded, but not horrendous. There was a seat between me and the next person in my row. Flight attendants handed us hand sanitizer and anti-bac wipes as we entered. I had a conversation with a stranger in real life for the first time in months.

This isn’t a super long flight but I took the thiccest nap known to mankind. I don’t remember anything before waking up in Edinburgh. At this point, I’d also been wearing a mask for over 15 hours. I won’t complain, but it definitely started to feel like my mask was a part of me.

We made it :’)

So I finally made it! Didn’t lose any luggage, doused myself in hand sanitizer, and made it back to my flat in one piece. Overall, I’m really glad that I was able to social distance for most of my journey and that airports and airlines are generally enforcing stricter guidelines in order to ensure everyone’s safety.

Thumbnail via Phil Mosley via Unsplash.


Written by Marina Martinez

Arizonan student at the University of Edinburgh, dog lover, desert rat, meme aficionado and coffee enthusiast.

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