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I Took a Flight During the Pandemic and Here’s What Stressed Me out Most

Woman wearing PPE mask with airplane flying in the sky behind her
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Like a lot of folx, I spent the first few months of the pandemic barely leaving my apartment. I didn’t see my family for months. I washed all my groceries. I used hand sanitizer constantly. I couldn’t imagine taking the subway, never mind an airplane. To make 2020 even worse (could it even get worse?), me and the person I had been dating for six months broke up when they moved back to Nova Scotia due to the film industry coming to a standstill. Thanks Ms. Corona. I’ll save you the romantic details, but six weeks later I found myself clicking purchase on a flight to Halifax. And then the panic started to set in.

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Let me acknowledge: I realize plenty of people have flown further, across borders and for reasons more serious than mine: sick or dying family members, losing their jobs and having to move in with family, etc. I also acknowledge that my flight experience is just that: my experience. I’ve talked to others who flew further or with another airline and they had a completely different opinion on flying during the pandemic. So, here’s my key takeaways and advice for anyone who might need to travel during COVID.

Woman wearing PPE mask with airplane flying in the sky behind her
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Pre-flight: Getting ready for takeoff during a pandemic

For someone who has an anxiety disorder and has experienced panic attacks on airplanes before — the pre-flight what ifs that ran through my head is what stressed me out the most. Thankfully the time between purchase and takeoff was less than a week, so this minimized the time I had to obsessively think about being in an enclosed space with dozens of strangers, when all the safety precautions were telling me to do the opposite. Fortunately, Nova Scotia is a part of the Atlantic bubble, so the active COVID cases in the province were low (less than 10) and I’d be required to quarantine for two weeks. This helped ease my anxiety about getting — or passing on — the virus.

Related: The wildest things we’ve bought in 2020.

Flight: Staying cool between destinations

To be honest, the flight was totally fine. There was no one in the airport, so the time between arriving at Pearson to sitting at my gate was less than 10 minutes. I wore a mask, they took my temperature at the gate, everyone was spread out on the flight (I had no one sitting beside me) and they provided everyone with disinfectant wipes. The flight was less than two hours. Everyone was calm and respectful. It wasn’t any more uncomfortable or stressful than going to the grocery store during COVID.

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Post-flight: Finding footing when you reach your destination

I was extraordinarily relieved when I landed. While the flight was fine, I’d only recommend if you absolutely have to get on airplane. Keep in mind that depending on where you travel, you may have to quarantine for two weeks. Thankfully I didn’t have to spend two weeks in isolation, as my partner kindly agreed to quarantine with me, but honestly, I was worried about spending 14 days inside a tiny bachelor apartment.

But truth be told: it was fun. I took a much-needed vacation from work and we napped, cooked, read, played endless games of crib, watched the original three Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies and ultimately — reconnected. If you’ve got to quarantine, do everything you can to make it enjoyable.

Related: The 20 most generous celebs during COVID-19.

If this year had taught us anything, it’s that we have to be adaptable. The advice here is still to avoid all non-essential travel, but if you do have to get on an airplane, follow expert safety precautions and know that while the experience may not be enjoyable, you will get through it. And keep repeating to yourself the reason you’re putting yourself at risk: to grieve with family, start a job or see the person you love.

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