I will start by saying this – please remember that there are still rules in many places governing who can enter where. Also, there are some that are still nervous about traveling while the virus is still out there – I am not trying to tell you that you should do what you are not comfortable with or against what your doctor advises. Instead, I am just sharing some of the things I liked about traveling during this time of travel.
What I Really Liked About Traveling This Month (June, 2020)
I realize the title may sound a bit strange and I tried to think of something different. But, the reason for the incredible travel halt is due to the Covid-19 outbreak so it seemed to be the best title to work with!
Earlier this month, I needed to travel to the US from Europe and back again (you can read about what it was like traveling to the US and then traveling to Europe here). There was one word that I thought of as I strolled through airports in Frankfurt, Newark, Chicago, and Zurich – eery. The quiet was hard to get used to and, in many areas, it felt like I was somewhere I shouldn’t be since I was the only one around!
- What it is Like Traveling from Europe to the US During Covid-19
- What it is Like Traveling from the US to Europe During Covid-19
- What it is Like Traveling to Greece During Covid-19
- What it is Like Transiting Frankfurt Airport During Covid-19 (absolutely quiet)
- SWISS Business Class Shines Amid Coronavirus Cuts
- What United Polaris Business is Like During Covid-19
There are a few things that I liked about traveling during this time – great award availability was one of them. I had no problems booking United Polaris out of Frankfurt which can often be a hard thing to book – especially in the summer! Another thing I liked was that I didn’t need to share a row space (most of the flights). While I don’t mind sitting next to someone, it was nice to not have to do that!
But, the thing I liked the most was the fact that there were no lines – anywhere! Actually, there was one line and that was the line at the Starbucks in Chicago ORD. 🙂 But, that was it!
No Line at Passport Control in the US
I mean, imagine entering the US without Global Entry or Mobile Passport – and not having to wait even 10 seconds to be called up! I have been using Global Entry for about 10 years so have not really had to deal with CBP lines. But, with Global Entry and Mobile Passport being suspended at many (all?) US airports, I had to head for a CBP officer.
There was not a single person in line ahead of me! Our flight from Frankfurt into Newark was the only one that landed around that time so that meant just 60 people total to get through passport control. Fantastic!
No Line at TSA in Chicago
TSA PreCheck is a total time-saver – most of the time. If an airline I am flying does not have a Precheck stand, then I rely on my airline elite status to use the priority line.
But, having both of those lines shut down at the international terminal at ORD made me think I would have a long wait. After all, there were a few international flights that were checking in when I was there. I got through the security snake of lines and found that there were no lines at all! I walked right to the official checking IDs to a scanner without having to wait even a few seconds!
No Line to Enter the EU
When I landed in Zurich, I headed for the gates that my internal EU flight would depart from. I could have hung around for a while since the lack of flights meant long layovers but I wanted to get to a lounge and settle in for a bit.
When I arrived at the EU passport control area, there was not a single person in any of the lines! There were 5 windows opened and staffed with Swiss police and I only had to wait just to see which officer would take me first!
No Lounge? No Problem!
One of the things I like about airline lounges (beyond the free food and drinks and showers) is the ability to find a place to settle in during a longer layover. But, most lounges were closed during my trip so I couldn’t take advantage of any of that (even the two lounges I did visit were not their usual selves with pre-packaged, limited food offerings).
But, I wasn’t complaining since I had entire portions of a terminal to myself! I was in Zurich International Airport and I literally had at least a dozen gates to myself! There was not a sound to be heard except the very rare announcement about airport security – nothing but me and my stuff!
Bottom Line – No Lines!
While hearing the announcements, shuffling along with people, standing in lines, and just being another spot in the flow of humanity in and out of airports is part of the experience, I absolutely loved having no lines and things so incredibly quiet!
Granted, there were downsides like limited/no airline lounges open, few cafes/restaurants open, etc – but who needs the quiet of a lounge when you get an entire part of a terminal to yourself! Plus, all the outlets and fast WiFi speeds you could ever need!
Travelers are starting to hit the skies more and more each week but chances are pretty good that there will be some quiet places in airports and small lines for at least another few weeks. I really liked it!
At the same time, I don’t think I will be all that sad when I am again joined by my fellow travelers in the halls of airports all over the world! I kind of miss them. 🙂