Traveling During the “New Normal”: What You Need to Know

My recent travel experience from Nashville to Boston was great! Indeed, it was! Even in what we consider our “new normal.” Leading up to boarding the plane, I was a little nervous, but mostly confident in my decision to travel. After all, this is “our new normal”, right?

We will have to go to work again. We will have to travel again. We will have to host events again. And we will have to interact with the world again. But carefully, of course.

With excitement on my face and attention to being cautious around others, I self-assuredly held my coffee in one hand and my boarding pass in the other. Yay! A vast, beautiful, blue ocean; a baby nephew with all gums- no teeth, yet; and a big warm hug from my mom is on the other side of this flight!

I typically take the stance of, life is what you make it. So, if you view this “new normal” thing as scary and anxiety provoking, you’re going to be scared and anxious. However, if you accept the new normal, follow the guidelines and protect yourself and others, life will go on in a business-as-usual, way.

So, I thought I’d put together a quick guide for what you need to know about traveling in, during, and throughout our “new normal.”

  1. Check with your airports AND your airlines for updated policies.

I traveled from Nashville, Tennessee (BNA) to Boston, Massachusetts (BOS) on Southwest Airlines. So I was sure to read up on what to expect from both airports and my airline before traveling. At BNA, there was not a mandatory mask rule. At BOS, the same thing. However, a proper mask application was mandatory before boarding the plane.

Southwest Airlines provided an emailed updated policy the day before my flight that outlined what changes I could expect. Such as, mandatory masks as you board the plane, ten people boarding at a time and water and snack service only on flights longer than 2.5 hours. All of these policies seemed perfectly appropriate and made me feel like proper precautions were being taken to protect all travelers.

As we know, all airlines have different rules, policies and regulations. So, I would strongly recommend checking with your specific airline the day prior to your flight to familiarize yourself with what to expect.

2. Airports are functioning.

But, just like everything else in the world, they’re operating at half capacity. And eventually, more. As I was walking through the terminals, I noticed that every gate that was open, was just about full, with people sitting in every other seat for cautionary reasons, not as mandate.

MOST restaurants and bars were NOT open, however, the larger chains remained open for business (think Starbucks and Burger King). Some terminals offered food and some didn’t. So for this reason, I would suggest eating at home first or familiarizing yourself with your terminals and locating a good (and open) spot to grab some grub. The last thing you want to do is have your eye on that lobster roll from Legal Seafoods at BOS and not be able to order it!

Like I made mention above, boarding the flight was modified to where 10 people boarded at a time. If you are a Southwest flier, you’ll know that this is slightly different than your normal Southwest boarding experience where up to 30 people can board at one time. None the less, it went by incredibly smoothly and quickly.

3. In-flight experience.

On my Southwest flight, you were able to choose your seat as normal based on your boarding zone. However, it is policy that every middle seat be left open unless there are three or more people traveling together. But like, is anyone ever mad with having extra elbow room on their flight?! I certainly enjoyed it!

On my specific flight, there were 60 occupied seats out of 175. And I would anticipate this number to grow over the next few weeks as more states enter into their respective progressive stages.

Overall, I encourage people to be safe. And I encourage people to begin their new normal. I hope this quick travel guide helps you do so!

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