‘The airport was empty:’ What it was like to be in an airport and fly on a plane to Houston this week.
HOUSTON – It was March 24 when it was time to fly back home to Houston after being in San Diego for nearly two weeks for an annual spring break family trip along with my mom and my cousin.
Stepping into the San Diego International Airport, I immediately noticed the impact that the coronavirus outbreak has had on the travel industry.
The airport was empty.
The only people I saw were a lady from security who let us know that the elevators were closed so we had to take the escalators, three pilots standing together near the entrance, two cleaning personnel walking in the opposite direction and about five other travelers either sitting in a waiting area or walking towards the Transportation Security Administration checkpoint.
As a frequent traveler, I had never gone through the TSA checkpoint so quickly before. It took me longer to place all my belongings in the bins than the time I had to wait for an agent to check my ID and boarding pass and for me to walk through the body scanner.
When I was walking to the gate I thought there would be no more than five passengers on our flight.
But once we arrived at the gate, there were around 30 other passengers, some wearing masks, waiting to board the same American Airlines plane that would make a stop at the Dallas/Forth Worth International Airport.
Initially, we had booked a flight that was scheduled to make a stop in Phoenix but the airline canceled it and rebooked it two days before.
Everyone boarded the plane and proceeded to take their assigned seats. My mom, my cousin and I had separate seats but ended up sitting together as there were plenty of empty rows.
The flight attendants were wearing gloves but appeared calm.
During the flight, I noticed a young woman who was sitting in the row next to us using a small plastic bag around her finger to touch the screen located on the seat.
As we were landing in Dallas, I looked out the window and saw empty streets with one or two cars driving through each neighborhood and a few vehicles on the highways. Overall, the city looked deserted.
We then landed, exited the plane and walked over to the SkyLink light rail which would take us to the gate where our final flight to Houston would take off from. I noticed that there were more people throughout the Dallas airport than at the San Diego airport.
When we made it to the gate, everyone had already boarded the plane. Once inside, there were about 20 other people on the flight heading to George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
The plane was smaller but it had more empty rows than the previous one, so this time my mom decided to sit by herself and my cousin and I sat together.
The flight was super quick.
At the Dallas and Houston airports, I noticed there was a person constantly cleaning the woman’s restrooms. I had never seen an airport restroom so sparkling clean.
I also noticed that at both airports restaurants and stores were closed with the exception of coffee shops, fast-food restaurants and a few stands.
Once we landed in Houston, we headed over to the shuttle bus pick up area to take the Eco Park 2 bus which would take us to where our car was parked.
The shuttle bus driver told us that we were the third group of passengers he picked up the whole day.
We drove across town through deserted Houston streets and highways and made it home safely.
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