As our travel stories continue to show us, the post-pandemic travel experience is different. This week we’re taking a look at another US domestic travel story from App in the Air user, photographer and entrepreneur, Ashley Castallanos, who shared with us what her experience was like flying from Portland to Philadelphia.
Can you tell us about your overall departure experience?
I flew out PDX in Portland and it was an early morning flight so not very busy. In terms of the TSA experience, I’d say it was pretty much the same but of course now there are stickers on the ground telling you where to stand so you can social distance and there was a barrier between the TSA officers and passengers.
Going through security was a breeze, probably because of the timing of my flight. Once I got to the gate I noticed several seats were blocked off with stickers to encourage social distancing as well. PDX also had hand sanitizers throughout the airport. There were quite a few coffee shops and markets open but I didn’t really buy any food. I did buy a gift for a friend from a market and the shop had a plastic barrier as well. Overall, I feel like PDX is doing a great job making sure passengers social distance and stay safe.
How was the inflight experience?
I flew Delta Airlines to Philadelphia. Everyone was wearing masks. As soon as I boarded, the flight attendants handed us hand sanitizers. The flight wasn’t really full so I actually ended up having a row to myself. In terms of snacks, the flight crew did hand out a bag of goodies with more hand sanitizer wipes.
You know when the flight lands and everyone gets up to rush off the plane? Well that definitely wasn’t an issue for my flights! Now the crew asks passengers to get up row by row and wait until they’re at least six feet away before getting up. This was encouraged on all the flights I took during this trip. I also had a two hour layover in Salt Lake City. While that airport was busier, they definitely were still encouraging social distancing with hand sanitizer stands everywhere and of course everyone was wearing masks. Landing in Philadelphia was easy. I didn’t have any bags checked so I was able to jet out quickly.
What was your experience in Philadelphia like?
Honestly it was great. Everyone was wearing masks and coming from Portland I did notice that the environment was a bit more relaxed there. More people were out and about, wearing masks. The city has done a good job helping small businesses by closing down streets so restaurants have more outdoor seating space.
I was also happy to see restaurants utilize touchless tech to serve people as well! In one restaurant you could only access the menu via a QR code and another you could order and pay for your entire meal right from your phone to avoid touching anything. It was awesome to see businesses get innovative by going contactless while also keeping a good experience for customers. Overall, I felt very comfortable and at ease there.
Did you go anywhere besides Philadelphia?
Yes! I took a trip to Boston after Philly and I definitely recommend that passengers keep checking restrictions after they’ve booked their flight. After I had booked everything I found out that Massachusetts changed Pennsylvania to a high risk state which meant that I had to take a COVID-19 test before heading there (and I only had a weekend to do that btw). I managed to get a test done at a local Rite Aid but the results didn’t come back until I was already in Boston. Basically if you don’t take the test you have to quarantine for 14 days otherwise you’ll be fined $500 a day. In terms of the process: at the airport I filled out a questionnaire online (from the airline) and when I landed in Boston I started receiving texts explaining how I needed to quarantine. I eventually got the negative test but the experience was interesting as no one really checked on me either. Lesson here: keep checking border restrictions!
Finally, would you recommend people to travel at this time?
I would say if you’re healthy and able to, I think it’s okay to travel right now. From my experience I saw that many businesses are trying to do their best to make customers feel comfortable and I definitely felt safe throughout my trip. With that said, people should keep checking restriction information for their destination and when traveling: wear a mask, keep social distancing and don’t be ignorant. It’s better for you and everyone around you as well.