Passengers thoughts on flying during the pandemic

Saioa Laverty, Reporter

JetBlue was the first airline that required passengers to wear a face mask that covered their nose and mouth while they were checking in, boarding, flying, and deplaning with them beginning on May 4, 2020 and continuing up to now. Passengers on a flight from the LAX airport to the Fort Lauderdale, Florida airport on May 11, 2021 had a variety of thoughts and opinions on traveling during the pandemic and the guidelines that are in place.

One passenger, Alfredo Maldonado, was traveling to Fort Lauderdale to spend the week hanging out with some friends. When asked about his opinion on wearing masks on the plane along with in the airport he said it was “a bit annoying [especially on the five hour flight] but for the most part he had no problem with it”.

However another passenger, Jimmy Ritchie, felt more strongly opposed to the mask mandate in public transportation. Ritchie was traveling from LAX to Fort Lauderdale on a trip with his family. He said that he thought it was “stupid that Americans still have to wear a mask when in [they] are in public” especially since he and many other Americans were “already vaccinated” for the COVID-19 virus. 

When asked about the positive takeaways from his flying experience, Maldonado said that the crew and flight attendant were for the most part “very attentive and polite”. Additionally, he was pleasantly surprised to discover that the plane had free wifi that “actually worked” unlike the wifi on many airlines. Although, the main and obvious upside to his experience was being able to travel in general. He explained that he was able to go on a few road trips during the pandemic but that this was his first time flying on a plane in over a year. 

Passenger Ritchie said that one upside to this specific airline was that they were still offering food and beverages to their passengers. He said that he traveled to Hawaii at the beginning of April on Hawaii Airlines and they “did not offer complimentary beverages or snacks due to COVID-19 restrictions”. Additionally he appreciated the variety of snacks and that there were plenty of options to choose from that his kids enjoyed. 

When asked if they would travel again during the pandemic, fully knowing what the experience entailed, they both answered “yes” without a doubt. Even if they believed wearing a mask is a bit annoying or just plain dumb, they still were willing to do it all over again if it meant the ability to travel during the pandemic. Whether they like it or not, U.S. airline passengers will have to wear a mask and comply with any other COVID-19 guidelines if they want to travel during the pandemic, and will likely have to do so until the California and the federal mask mandates are lifted.