As a travel-based organization, Luke’s Wings has seen the effects COVID-19 has had both on the airline industry and our beneficiaries who frequently travel for visits with loved ones and travel to and from critical doctor’s appointments. It’s been a time of great uncertainty but as we cautiously return to travel, we wanted to share a firsthand account of Luke’s Wings Program Manager, Bea Ibarra’s, recent flight to Madrid, Spain.
You may be asking yourself why did we decided to travel during these times?
On July 31st my fiancé and I took a flight from Washington, DC to Madrid, Spain with a layover in Dallas, TX. You may be asking yourself why did we decided to travel during these times? Well, I was born and raised in Madrid and I hadn’t seen my family for many months. Both of my parents were on the front lines fighting the virus and saving others in Madrid and now it was time for me to support them.
Since the pandemic started, there are only 3 major airports in Spain that were accepting international flights. We knew this experience would be much different than our previous flights because we had seen all the news about empty planes and massive lots filled with the hundreds of aircrafts that couldn’t fly.
Our first stop was Washington National – Ronald Reagan Airport (DCA) in Washington, DC. When we arrived, we noticed how clean it was and that it was virtually empty. The airport was definitely taking precautions to ensure the safety of everyone there including hand sanitizers in almost every corner and only having one restaurant open that offered food to-go to keep people from gathering.
Once we got inside of the plane, the flight attendant welcomed everyone with a small bag that had water, mini pretzels, and sanitation wipes for the trip to Dallas. Our aircraft had the capacity to hold 168 passengers with only 48 onboard. This was great since we were all able to have our own space on the plane.
During our flight, we noticed everyone was very conscious and tried to be respectful.
Landing in Dallas, TX, at the domestic terminal, was like going back in time and it seemed as if the pandemic had never existed there. Yes, people were still in their masks, however almost every restaurant and bar were open, there were lines everywhere, and people were gathering in bigger groups than in DC. To our surprise, the international terminal was much better and less crowded which made us feel much more comfortable before takeoff.
Our flight to Madrid had the capacity to hold 368 people but only had 32 passengers on board. Once again, the flight attendants were very understanding and helpful, allowing people to move seats if they were seated with another person outside of their household. The flight crew did not come around the cabin as usual, once we were in the air but rather told us to ring the flight attendant caller if we needed anything, which helped them keep their distance between passengers. Every little thing helps in this situation.
Overall, our experience was fairly comfortable and we felt safe throughout the entire trip. It is hard work to keep the terminals and airplanes clean, but we saw a lot of effort to do just that.
While every person is different, if you ask me today if I recommend flying my answer will be yes!