After six months in lockdown in Arizona, last week, we finally returned home to Italy. Where a new apartment, in a new town, awaited us.
The journey included transfers in New York and Amsterdam, so three legs in all. Safety was a primary concern. We didn’t want to get coronavirus.
Standing at the ticket counter to check our bags in Phoenix, things were already off to a bad start.
Mask compliance on the first leg of our trip, once we were on the airplane (Phoenix to New York) was good.
But crossing the ocean (New York to Amsterdam)… not so much. This was KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines). We complained to a flight attendant about one loud guy who wasn’t wearing his mask. She made him put it on. Later, he took it off. But at least he was in business class, and they closed it off with thick curtains after takeoff.
Later on, when most people were asleep, I walked back to use the lavatory, and observed about 50% of the passengers were not covering their noses. We never saw the attendants enforcing mask compliance, other than the guy we ratted on.
Transatlantic flights are… long. But I made good use of my time editing my romance novel. That was the fun part of the trip.
The not fun part?
Wearing a mask for about 23 hours (door to door). We started the journey wearing N-95 masks (to protect us) with a cotton mask on top of that (to protect others), plus face shields (to protect us). Some people might say it’s overkill. A lot of dead people said that, too.
Anyway, I don’t want Covid-19.
And if I’m an asymptomatic carrier, I don’t want to give it to anybody.
I will admit, however, that the double mask and face shield was hard to keep on the whole time, because it got quite warm and the shield kept fogging up. Though Greg wore his most of the trip, plus goggles. He’s a rockstar. He got a pressure wound on the bridge of his nose, like those pictures you see of doctors in the red zone. He says it hurt so much at times, it felt like his nose was broken. And that was just one day. The doctors have to endure it every day. They’re heroes.
Food and beverage service on our flights: Coffee was offered on only one of our three flights, and food was limited, so I was glad I brought instant coffee to add to my bottled water. It was better than nothing.
We also brought tons of food with us, which gave me a workout carrying that through four airports, but it was worth it to have food.
I had times where I only wore the cotton mask (there was nobody sitting near us on the transatlantic flight, except the guy in business class, behind the curtain)… the flight was maybe at 25% capacity, lots of empty seats. I wore the N-95 and face shield in busy areas.
Noteworthy things about our air travel:
They took our temperature in JFK before boarding the flight to Europe. They took it again in Amsterdam, before we boarded our flight to Rome. Then, when we arrived in Rome, they took our temperature before we went into baggage claim.
Our groovy, designer cloth masks were not acceptable for Italy. Before boarding the plane to Rome, we were required to don the standard, blue surgical face masks. No problem, as we had some with us, as a backup.
The good of flying during a pandemic?
No crowds! No packed seating at the gate. No mad rush when they call your zone to board. No shortage of overhead compartment space. No running out of hand towels in the lavatory, or overflowing of the waste bin thingy.
In fact, the lavatory never got disgusting, even by the end of the flight. The floor wasn’t covered in piss, or whatever that is, by the end of long flights packed to the gills. And disembarking was a breeze, no standing in the aisle like cattle, waiting for people in front of you to deal with their carry-on luggage.
Best of all, we had plenty of room to stretch out on seats, for two of our three flights (the longest legs, too), so you know… yin and yang.
On the transatlantic leg, there were four empty rows of the middle section of the wide-body airliner. My daughter slept laying down, like it was a couch. So did my 6′-tall husband, for a solid 5-6 hours. Which made his journey much more bearable.
Happily Ever After!
Cuz we made it to Italy! We moved into our new apartment, and it’s lovely. Stay tuned for updates on our 2-week mandatory quarantine and how things are while living in Italy.
(Hint: so far it’s awesome!)