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Home and Other Adventures

Flying During Covid-19 Pandemic

What a ride it’s been. But here we are. Home. That word feels so good in my mouth. Sweet and full. But with it comes a bitter taste – it’s not what was supposed to happen. Home and other adventures is a story of acceptance of our fate. Despite all our planning; despite all our hopes; despite all our efforts – our travel life has come to an abrupt stop.

Heathrow Airport
Eeriely quiet London Heathreow

Home and other adventures took me several weeks to wrap my head around. As each day passed, each week passed I kept adjusting my thinking. Believing we could pick up our itinerary at some point and continue. Eventually we came to the realization it wasn’t going to happen and if we are going to be sitting somewhere we might as well be sitting at home. At least it’s free and we could be working on projects and helping our family. And so we took the first flight that came available out of Cyprus.

Cyprus Airport
Empty Cyprus airport

Getting here was nothing less than grueling. It took about 50 hours from bed to bed. Three flights, one hotel, lots of cold sandwiches. Airports have few services. Planes have few services. I brought food with us, as best I could. It wasn’t good but it was something.

Aegean Airlines
Onboard Aegean Air to London

Leaving Cyprus

Departing Cyprus we drove on a bus to the plane – seriously about 15 minutes. To an entirely different airport where the planes seem to be staging. I think it was the old airport. I have no idea why. Upon boarding the flight crew was dressed like they were assisting in surgery…disposable gowns, face masks, rubber gloves and eye protection. We were given rubber gloves and told we had to wear them the entire flight. Everyone on board was wearing a mask. We were given a bottle of water and nothing else on the five hour flight. All middle seats were empty. Even couples who wanted to sit side by side were told they could not. Without flight attendants going up and down the aisle the plane was so quiet. With everyone wearing masks no one was chatting and the plane was absolutely silent. Ghostly.

London Tube
Heathrow baggage claim

We arrived in London to a eerily quiet Heathrow. No temperature checks -we breezed right through, got our bags, walked to our hotel in the adjoining terminal. Crashed on the bed in the itty bitty room.

Heathrow Train
Empty train in London

Leaving London

Early Wednesday off we went again. Empty tube ride to the terminal. Almost empty terminal. Signs everywhere to distance. But staff not wearing masks or any protection. We asked why and were told it’s not allowed. It’s astonishing to me how inconsistent the rules are between countries.

Heathrow Airport
Having Heathrow all to ourselves…weird.

Security checks at Heathrow were normal and well carried out. There was no health screening on departure. It was strange the wide variety of preparedness in the handful of travelers. Some did not have anything. Most had masks, a few had gloves as well. And then some dressed head to toe in complete “contagion” outfits. It reminded me of Willy Wonka in the Wonkavison room.

Willy Wonka
Wonka Vision
Heathrow Airport
Heathrow social distancing

I was pulled aside for additional security screening at the gate…that was just random, not due to Covid. Mostly swabbing for chemicals and explosives. On board the British Airways 787 there were 13 people and nine crew. Wow. Nine people in economy (including us), no one in Business and four in First Class. We were able to spread out and get comfortable. In fact, we were required to each have a full row and to sit next to the window in an effort to “distance” It actually was a nice flight…I love British Airways. We had a half a sandwich served early with some chocolates and later a pizza like thing. That with the food we brought was plenty. No alcohol available.

One striking thing about all three of our flights was how when we pulled away from the gate, the plane headed to the runway and just took off! No waiting for the plane in front of you.

British Airways
Lots of legroom

Hello USA

Arriving in the USA was interesting. First we were met on the gangway by health screeners. No temperature taking, but they asked us questions dressed in full contagion gear. The LAX airport has way more activity than in London. Several shops open and kiosks with cold food and even Starbucks open. There was none of that in London. There seems to be more staff around as well. Most are wearing masks. We breezed through both passport control and border patrol. I wanted someone to say welcome home…geeze I’ve been gone for seven months. But they hardly batted an eye. Sigh….

Los Angeles International Airport
Waiting for our third and final flight

Our flight to Seattle left late but other than that was uneventful. Arriving in Seattle we got our bags and changed into clean clothes before meeting our boys – just an effort to try to not spread anything we may have picked up. SeaTac was quiet with very few people. Most staff wearing masks. Starbucks was open but I didn’t see any restaurants open, but we were only in one terminal so possibly in departures there was more. I’m not sure.

Home and Other Adventures

Waking up in my bed, opening my eyes and knowing where I was. Nice but surreal. I can’t tell you how many times over the past four years I’ve had to let my brain take a moment to know where I was upon waking…so many hotels, Airbnb’s and beds. But waking up here, I knew. I am so grateful we made the decision to buy this house…it was a leap of faith to buy something sight unseen. But life in a pandemic without a home to come to would have been pretty rotten. But here we are.

The Lund Family

I’ll be in self-quarantine here now for two weeks. Only seeing my boys, who met us at the airport. It’s good. Our youngest has been working from our house and will continue to do so until his office reopens, which may be awhile.

So what’s next? We don’t know… we will figure it out just like everyone else. We still have flights for the wedding in France in June…it’s unlikely to happen but we haven’t completely given up on it. We have a trip to Hawaii planned in October. We have a trip to Boston and New York planned in December. Will that happen? I don’t know. I do know eventually we will get out there again…just how long it will take remains to be seen.

Home and Other Adventures. Unexpected but satisfying. Be safe. Be well. Stay tuned. The adventure continues just with a sharp right turn and a few bumps in the road… Home, sweet home.

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6 Comments

  • Reply Ann Hedreen

    Laureen, it is so fascinating to read about your journey home, as I sit here in my quiet Seattle pandemic-universe! Glad you made it safely and with your sanity and health intact!
    your armchair fan,
    Ann

    May 1, 2020 at 2:00 pm
  • Reply Michael Söhlke

    So good to hear that you made it back home in perfect health condition – remember our discussion in Florida about how good it is to have a home to return to and your direct response of just having bought a new home? Well, this was a wink of fate and a perfect decision. Enjoy your time in the beautiful NorthWest despite the virus lockdown – there are worse things for sure…

    May 1, 2020 at 3:44 pm
  • Reply Carol Nelson

    Welcome home, Laureen! It’s a story to remember, especially with your extended lockdown!! Your story of your return to the US is so similar to ours, even though ours was a month earlier! Quiet airport in Paris and LA., though frenzied in Tunisia! Your plane was a lot emptier than ours, but we also had room to find seats to lay down to sleep. I’m glad you got a hotel room, we were in a chair for 16 hours in the Paris airport! And no food available at all! Seeing your pictures, I also found the COVID/ social distancing signs in the different airports very interesting! After so long away from home, I can see how mind bending it must be. We are also struggling with the future of travel. I retired in June so we could fulfill our dream of lots of traveling! I will be crossing all my fingers and toes for all of us to be able to get back to it soon! In the meantime, enjoy your precious family time and our beautiful Pacific Northwest!! Have you seen the new 4 phase plan?! Some normalcy is in our near future!!

    May 1, 2020 at 6:33 pm
    • Reply Laureen

      Thanks so much Carol.

      May 3, 2020 at 10:28 am

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