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Traveler behavior

For the past two years I've watched as the maskless wreaked havoc on public space here in Geogia, USA.. I'm wondering if this will be true in airports and planes as we (spouse and I) venture to France, Switzerland, and Italy in March. Sorry, but wanting to know how much my tolerance will be tested (and whether I should go on antidepressants). Have not flown since 2018.

Posted by
201 posts

I am amazed at some of the videos of plane passengers who rebel against airline mask regulations. I wonder if they are trying to grab their 15 minutes of fame, if they are making a political statement, or if they were dropped on their head during their infancy, and as a former educator I question the quality of health education in our schools.
When we flew last fall there was general mask compliance in the airports and on flights, and fortunately reported incidents of bad behavior seem to be rare. Of course it's small comfort if it happens on your flight and ruins your trip. Hopefully someday we'll be able to consider this behavior as just part of the gestalt of the pandemic but until then most of us will have to put up with it and model civilized behavior for our kids.

Posted by
9760 posts

Masking compliance is excellent on your Europe-bound and US-bound flights.

the problem is if you have any connecting flights to get to your Europe-bound flight. I personally didn't have any real problems on my domestic flights, so hopefully it will be okay.

Posted by
683 posts

There is a book named "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds" that examines mass hysteria. It has been on the periphery of my reading interests for decades, but has now moved way up. I'm sure social scientists, psychologists, and such, will be studying these last few years forever.

Posted by
7050 posts

The FAA rules on airplanes are much stricter than what you'd see in "public spaces" in Georgia. Same with the airports, although you will see people inside airports with their masks off when they're eating or when they don't have them on properly - but you can avoid them by sitting at a distance (provided there is adequate room, of course). The distancing rules are regularly flouted and many people will try to "get away with" things on the plane like letting their masks hang from their chins or nursing their water forever, but I found the planes themselves to be good on compliance because the flight atrendants are as dilligent and patient as they can be (I can only can speak for US carriers). But, overall, flying is not a pleasant experience and certaintly not as fun as it used to be (assuming you liked flying, as I did). I have had people crowd and hover in back of me unnecessarily when in any queue (bathroom, boarding, security line, etc).

Posted by
197 posts

I have flown quite a few times during the pandemic ( three times internationally). The airlines are very strict about mask guidelines. As someone else said, you will see some interpretive mask wearing in the terminals, but on the plane things are strict. Fortunately, I haven't seen any serious incidents on any of my flights.

Posted by
4419 posts

You need to wear N95s on the plane-the disposable surgical masks and cloth ones don't really protect you. And FYI, although we were very compliant about staying home and wearing masks pre-vaccine, we flipped the switch when we got our vaccines and now only wear masks when required to do so. A long day of wearing a mask almost non-stop in airports during layovers and a flight to Europe is really uncomfortable . Both of us have worked in scientific fields( having taken graduate level classes in immunology) so are way more knowledgeable than most people about these issues-although I'm starting to doubt that anyone has much accurate knowledge about this virus. An antidepressant might be a good idea because it doesn't seem like this situation is going to end any time in the immediately foreseeable future and many people are ready to get on with their lives with fewer restrictions.

Posted by
1420 posts

You have to look after yourself. So wear an N95, stay as far away from people as is reasonable while waiting for your flight, take a sip or a bite and pull your mask back up. Don't be like the couple I sat next to on a cross-country flight who (1) complained that the FAA didn't have authority to mandate masks and (2) "ate", "drank" or "slept" the whole time in order to avoid wearing the masks. Also, beware the guy behind you with the wet cough.

Posted by
1443 posts

Trotter - that's why for the first time I sprung for 1st class on my flight to/from Europe this summer.

Posted by
18475 posts

There are ways to be safe. Make sure its a true N95 with the over the head strap. Do some research so you know how to fit it properly. If after taking it off you don't see a red line on your face, it wasn't fit properly. Eat a big meal and hydrate before leaving home so you don't have to remove it until you reach your first hotel. In those close proximity situations, a face shield isn't a bad idea. Some airlines, like Turkish Air, will sell you an extra seat for distancing. Book an asile seat in the last row and the middle seat next to it. Then pay the up-charge for early boarding so you can reach that seat with out passing by others (or bring a cane and request early boarding). Upon landing, be the last to get off. But be sure to have fun and enjoy your holiday.

Posted by
1420 posts

FastEddie: I was in Premium Economy so I assumed I'd be around folks who were used to traveling. You know what they say about the word "assume". Out of an abundance of caution I did an at-home self-test 5 days after the trip and was negative (subsequent tests also negative).

By the way, my DH recently flew that same route (Boston-Seattle on Alaska Air). The flight attendants were much more insistent that people wear their masks properly.

Posted by
31 posts

If your comment about taking antidepressants wasn’t a joke, I recommend talking to your doctor and asking specifically about what antidepressants do and don’t do. You would probably benefit more from an anti anxiety drug like Xanax, which might also help you sleep better on your long flights.

Posted by
436 posts

I live in Georgia. I have flown domestically quite a bit and internationally once since this started. I am happy to say I have not witnessed any bad mask-related traveler behavior except once at TSA precheck at Hartsfield - a party of three was traveling and apparently one did not have precheck but tried to go through the precheck line anyway, resulting in a big hissyfit and a walk of shame. The TSA rep that had to deal with these people was unfailingly polite, even when asking the person repeatedly to pull their mask over their nose.

All of my pandemic flights have been on Delta, and the FAs are very good about making the rounds and asking passengers to wear their masks correctly.

Posted by
10283 posts

I've done five transatlantic flights since the pandemic was declared in March 2020. There has been no shenanigans on any of the flights. The least amount of mask wearing is in the lounges and the airport restaurants. But we always find an empty boarding area to wait.

I've had no problem on domestic flights, but with all the publicity given to non-complying passengers, I don't look forward to domestic flights.. Sometimes people crowd around the boarding area, but you can pay for early boarding or choose to board last. For domestic, we've often chosen the last row to avoid having a lot of people walking past us.

Before Omicron we wore double surgical masks on planes but now we'll wear N95.

We've had no problem flying. If you are in chemotherapy or have a comorbidity, you probably shouldn't eat or drink but stay masked.

Posted by
14150 posts

I’m from Idaho where we’ve had to protect ourselves from idiots from the get-go.

I spent a month in France in Sept/Oct pre-Omicron and was amazed to see adults and children acting responsibly! TBH I was slightly freaked out by travel but was assured by good forum friends France was safer than Idaho. Of course they were right.

I was most worried about testing positive before returning home so I wore an N95 all the time (inside and outside) except in my hotel room. I did take it off to eat on the plane (Delta). I was on a Road Scholar tour for 2 of the weeks and THAT was where my fellow Americans fell down on compliance. We were supposed to mask on the bus but most did not although both the French guide and driver and some of us masked. All of us miraculously tested negative before the flight back home.

I took a long flight last Thursday (6+ hours on Alaska plus the flight to a hub) and people in general remained very cautious. I did not really take my mask off much - just sipped water and ate a bar quickly. Here in Hawaii people are masking inside but few are masked outside. We’ve brought test kits in case anyone starts showing symptoms (there are 5 of us) and will test about 5 days after I return home.

So when I return to Europe in the Spring, I’ll be bringing enough N95s for every day as well as a few test kits for random testing.

Posted by
8484 posts

I have done some long haul flights and see the airports as the place of biggest risk because people generally gather close together in the gate areas with masks off and eat. Why? Because it is their last chance for a decent meal. Food service is almost non-existent on many flights. I stay away from the main gate area until near boarding times and rely on notifications from the airlines on my phone.

A couple pieces of advice for traveling safely and sanely:
1. Recognize that the only person you can control is you. You can social distance, you can change seats and move away from someone who causes you anxiety, you can wear a high quality mask.

2. Recognize that regional differences exist. What might seem the height of rudeness or improper behavior to one person will seem normal to another. Take a deep breath and do what you can to give space.
3. Realize that most people want to do the right thing. Most people are trying to do their best.

Posted by
3188 posts

If you do end up getting a prescription drug for anxiety to take before your flight, test it a couple of times before you go on your trip.
You don't want to have an adverse reaction to it in-flight, and become that passenger who starts acting strangely because of it!

I think you will be fine without any chemical help.

Posted by
2616 posts

I tested my patience/enjoyment of a trip to a major tourist location--NYC--last October, last flew anywhere in 2019. Airports, 5 hour flights and public transit were all fine and no issues with mask-idiots, though on the street 50% of people tended to not wear them. You'll likely see a variety of people who balk at masking or wear them incorrectly, I just keep my distance from them and leave the policy enforcing up to the professionals.

Posted by
1625 posts

I have always observed offensive (to me) behavior even pre-covid. I have learned to stay in my lane, worry about me and mine and let the authorities handle any non-compliance. If someone is maskless in the terminal and it makes you nervous, move. If it happens on the plane wait for the flight attendant to handle to situation, they are usually aware of these situations. If not then discreetly bring it to their attention.
When you say "Wreaked havok on public spaces" what are you talking about? Like outdoor spaces, inside restaurants? Have they caused fights or caused a ruckus?

Posted by
10283 posts

"maskless wreaked havoc on public space "

But these people are mostly masked: OK Corral or Golden Corral?

I think people are just tired and surviving at the limits of patience whether masked or maskless. And yes, it's a bit nerve wracking getting into a metal tube 30,000+ feet above ground and think that someone could go rogue. But 99% of flights are boringly calm.

Rather than a tranquilizer, I put on earphones and Netflix from taxiing to landing. It works better for me.

Posted by
4419 posts

Carol now retired, great post. You sound like someone I'd like to know!

Posted by
6788 posts

Expect the best, but be prepared to be disappointed and ready for the worst. You may encounter nothing but polite, considerate, responsible angels. But don't count on it. More likely you will encounter some mix.

On my flights since the pandemic started (multiple US domestic, intercontinental, and intra-European flights), and in all the airports I've gone through, I've seen plenty of people behaving well, and plenty behaving badly. Not "social-media badly", but certainly lots cheating, flouting, or proudly ignoring the rules completely, sometimes displaying plenty of attitude. In airport terminals, I just stay far away from the clowns (alas, that becomes impossible at the many chokepoints).

On flights, I've pointed out mask-dodging passengers (covering their faces only when the flight attendant walks by, immediately removing them entirely the second she had passed -- when I told the flight attendant about it, she just shrugged and said they looked OK to her and walked away -- she was clearly not at all interested in playing mask cop). I've seen others scolded by the FA for wearing their masks but too loosely. And many of us have seen the "Ted Cruz" act out: a drink and a snack on display, mask completely off, smiling smugly, and only occasionally when a flight attendant walks by, passenger slowly, ceremoniously eats one peanut or takes a microscopic sip, nursing that single drink or snack for hours.

Wear an N95 (maybe double-mask if yours isn't sealing well), wear it all the time, do your best, and bring along a self-administered rapid antigen test to use a day or two after you arrive. Sitting in business or first class will give you greater separation if you can swing it.

Posted by
3878 posts

I've been on >100 flights domestic and international since the pandemic began. Not one problem passenger on any of my flights.

My experience is that mask use is generally good in the airports, too.

I fly through Atlanta a lot. I avoid the plane train, which seems like the highest risk place in the airport, and instead walk between concourses.

Don't let the behavior of others drive you to anti-depressants. 🙂