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My experience flying out of Tucson during COVID-19
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My experience flying out of Tucson during COVID-19

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Ryn Gargulinski

Ryn Gargulinski

Remember the good old days of flying when you could actually smuggle a pet rat on a plane – or end up with tons of empty seats between you and anyone else? Flying during COVID-19 is kind of like that.

While there were no pet rats on the plane that I could tell, there were tons of empty seats during my latest flight from Tucson to Fort Myers, Florida. Passengers were even allowed to get up and move, choosing any of the empty seats they wanted (provided they didn’t go wandering off into the first-class section).

Of course, despite the legion of empty seats, the one person in front of me needed to recline as far back as the chair would permit, promptly jamming my laptop into my abdomen. Ouch. Yes, I slid over to the next seat. Problem solved.

No peanuts or biscuits were served. Forget the water or coffee. And you had to wear a mask during the entire flight. No surprise there. It wasn’t made clear, however, if you were allowed to take off your mask if you needed to use the oxygen mask — or if you were expected to breathe using a double mask system in the event of a disaster.

Wearing a face covering in the airport was also mandated, although some folks took a breather, literally, and removed them when they were far enough away from others.

You also had to remove your mask for a millisecond when it came time to go through security. Just long enough to make sure you’re the same person who’s in that really bad driver’s license photo.

Even though airplanes and other public transportation are known for their high germ counts, no one appeared freaked out or overly anxious. In fact, I think I used to see more people use hand sanitizers on the plane before the pandemic. Or perhaps that’s only because there used to be more people around me to notice.

The attitude was different, too.

The flight attendants seemed a bit friendlier, maybe because they no longer have to push that too-wide drink cart down a too-narrow aisle.

In the airport and on the plane, everyone seemed to be moving in slow motion. There was a quiet, kind of somber air about the place, as if we were all in a library or a really boring museum.

It didn’t feel like gloom and doom, however. It felt more like resignation. Just another thing to get used to at the airport. Taking off shoes. Standing in a body scanner. Flying with masks. Not getting peanuts.

We humans are resilient creatures. If we can live without peanuts on the plane, we can probably get through just about anything.

Tucsonan Ryn Gargulinski is a writer, artist, Reiki master and dog lover who helps people get their dazzle back. Contact her at

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