I left previous post Travel to U.S. in COVID-19 till baggage claim at Newark Airport. Just to give context, I traveled from India to US (BOM-EWR) on Aug 8 with Air India, my final destination being Omaha, Nebraska. I had earlier booked domestic flight through Expedia from EWR to OMA with nearly 4.5 hours of gap between international and domestic flights. So in short, trip was not yet completed 😊 domestic was pending.
In continuation to that, once I collected my baggage from the belt, I moved towards the connecting flights section which was just right to the baggage claim. Rest of the passengers exited through gates or accompanied me.
A lady officer checked my boarding pass and asked me to proceed. Two guys were ahead of me and they were stopped by two officers from Agriculture Department. I was in impression that everyone has to follow the same (wasn’t aware about this department) so followed them without being asked 😞
Don’t do anything special unless asked
Once my turn came, lady officer inquired about food items (rice, seeds etc.) I was carrying. I told her about lentils and dry snacks I brought. My bags were scanned and inspected (checked-in bag) by the lady officer. This situation was completely avoidable but I put my head into it unknowingly. She was actually very nice, she didn’t removed all items from bag (Officer next to her was removing all items from bag) but simply checked everything by lifting them and once satisfied packed the bag neatly. I was good to go.
Once inside terminal, I went to Delta flight counter for checking-in my bag and get boarding pass. Airport was almost deserted so everything was quick. I had to pay 30$ for the bag.
Next was Security, no waiting line (it was like a dream especially in Newark). An Officer checked the boarding pass and ID (passport) and wished safe flight. Security checking was as usual requiring empty pockets, shoes removal, electronics out, food items in tray, no water etc. Needless to mention, it was quick.
I reached at the gate and my next flight (DEL 4637) was at 12:30 pm, so I had around 3 hours to pass. I called my sister and we talked for nearly 1 hour. Atmosphere was cold out there, I badly needed a coffee.
I called my wife while sitting on those picnic benches (newly installed i believe) at airport. She reminded me of the food (poori & aaloo) I brought with me. I noticed a lady sipping coffee sitting opposite to me and wondered from where she got that. Once I finished the food, I asked her about the coffee shop. Shop was just at the entrance of gate, I thanked her and bought black coffee from the shop.
Flight was destined for Minneapolis and from there, I had to catch connecting flight to Omaha. Boarding started on time and since there were few passengers, it got completed quickly. They took my cabin bag which had to be collected at Minneapolis.
Flight was like 40% occupied and this time too I got window seat (seats beside and after me were unoccupied ). Soon after take-off , food packages were provided by air hostess which consisted of pretzels, chips and water bottle along with sanitizer and napkin.
At Minneapolis, layover was of 1 hour, just enough to reach at my next flight terminal. I was supposed to go to terminal G from terminal C. I got my cabin bag quickly (was first in the queue) and hurried towards the gate.
I reached 10-15 mins before boarding and it started on time (masks were also available for passengers at flight reception). This flight (DL 3515) too was less occupied (only 50-60%). Till now everything went smooth, but this is America and weather don’t go along most of the time. Due to poor weather conditions, we were asked to wait on runway for close to 1 hour. I solved many Sudoku puzzles during the time. We were provided the snacks meanwhile.
After getting nod from weather department or whoever it was, our plane took off. I went to sleep and don’t remember when we landed , actually a fellow passenger woke me up. How nice of him !
Baggage claim didn’t took much time, I booked a Lyft (I prefer Lyft over Uber) which arrived on time (Driver wearing mask too). I reached home safely, overall it was a smooth trip without any hassle. Since there were announcements regarding 14 days volunteer self-quarantine, I am following the norms even though nobody is bothered about it 😊
Few Observations :-
- No PPE Kit
- No strict enforcement of Quarantine
- No temperature check at airport
- Self imposed social distancing
- Mandatory Masks (in Lyft too)
- Partially occupied flights
- Uncrowded Airports
So overall ,air travel seems to be safe as long as proper precautions are being taken. Hope you find it helpful. Leave your comments below.