On April 10th, 2020, I packed my bags and left for Orlando, Florida at 3:40am. I was feeling excited, but nervous, to finally go on vacation after over a year of quarantining.
When I first got to the airport, there was a line wrapped around the ticketing area of people trying to get through security. No one was social distancing, but everyone was wearing a mask. Some people weren’t wearing masks over their noses and others had children well over the age of 2 not wearing masks at all. I kept my distance and quickly got my ticket.
I was lucky to have speedy check in or else I would’ve had to wait in that line. Instead, I went through a short line and only waited 5 minutes. Guard dogs were sniffing for drugs and TSA were yelling telling us to “move quickly” through the line. Luckily, I’ve done this before, so I had everything out and ready. The guard dogs and police didn’t make me feel any at ease though.
Before I knew it, I was through security and thinking about getting food and to my gate as soon as I could. I walked past one restaurant that was closed, most likely due to COVID restrictions, so I got some water and a bag of chips from a convenience store close by instead.
I walked past a Dunkin Donuts and the line was so long I couldn’t even see the end of it. I gave up trying to find a meal, too exhausted from being up since 3:20am and decided to grab another to-go snack instead.
During the boarding process, not one person social distanced. Everyone kept wearing their masks though, mostly because every 10 minutes an announcement would be played over a speaker, telling people that if they didn’t comply with the mask rules, they would be removed from the airport. Signs were also posted everywhere.
Once we got on the plane, flight attendants handed out hand sanitizers and cleaning cloths to clean our seats and tables. Our flight was 100% full so were sitting next to strangers. No one social distanced on the flight either, but I felt safe knowing everyone was wearing masks (except to eat or drink), and that the plane had consistent filtration systems that cleaned 99.9% of the air on the plane. I slept for most of the ride, but there was a lot of turbulence, which made me uneasy.
Once we landed, I got off the plane and immediately went to the bathroom to change into shorts.
I was starving at this point. It was 1pm and I had only had some water, ginger ale, coffee, and a breakfast bar so I quickly tried to figure out the closest place to get food.
The crowd was completely different here than it was in Boston. The airport in Boston had everyone wearing masks properly and people at least trying to social distance. Here, I counted about 15-20 people not wearing masks properly, or at all. The only place that was open for lunch was Burger King and the line was wrapped around the food court. Luckily, they had mobile ordering. One woman standing near me wasn’t wearing a mask properly and none of the airport workers who passed told her to pull it above her nose.
I quickly grabbed my food and then found a spot to eat, away from everyone.
After I was done eating, I made sure to leave the airport as soon as possible, as I felt so uneasy. I was able to snag a cheap Uber (the driver wore a mask the entire time and there was hand sanitizers as well).
Comparing to Boston, MCO was not following COVID protocol in the least. This was made even more apparent when I was leaving MCO to go back home. Just like before, no one was social distancing, and people were not asked to wear their mask properly.
One man who was on my plane didn’t wear a mask until an attendant made him during take-off. He complied, but it was still an interesting sight to see for someone like me who has been quarantined for over a year.
Just because the vaccines are coming out and it seems like the pandemic is coming to an end doesn’t mean don’t still have to be vigilant. People are still getting sick and it’s still our responsibility to keep everyone safe.