Comments By Kim: Flying through a pandemic

Kim Fundingsland/MDN Although this image was taken early in the day, most of the usually busy Minneapolis airport has been nearly empty during the pandemic.

The coronavirus pandemic has gone on for many months. So has the learning curve. We’ve been through the ups and downs, several times, about masks, social distancing, hand sanitizing, business closures, travel restrictions and, finally, vaccinations.

COVID is serious stuff, at times deadly serious, but we’ve learned to cope. Even though it continues to evolve, we have vital information. We understand the uncertainty. We know the odds. We know being cautious is important. We have to respect what we can’t see.

Recently I traveled from Minot to Miami. There were no lines at the Minot airport, which isn’t particularly unusual for a town the size of Minot but still somewhat eerie given the times in which we live. The airplane boarded from back to front to minimize contact from passengers walking down narrow isles. Masks were required. The airlines are doing what they can to prevent exposure to coronavirus.

After landing in Minneapolis for a short layover before boarding a plane for Miami, it was sad to see the reality of a major airport nearly void of people. Only a few shops were open. Nearly all have been closed for most of this year.

It was surreal. Many of the wide concourses were empty. There was a handful of people in line at an open Starbucks and McDonalds. The seating in the waiting area for gates were marked “every other” to comply with social distancing advisories.

The plane I boarded in Minneapolis, bound for Miami, had three seats on either side of the isle. The large jet was nearly full with only a few, scattered empty seats. When we landed in Miami and went to the baggage claim there were no crowds to contend with, a very different look for that airport at any time of the day. Workers could be seen sanitizing counters and carts and seating areas.

My return flight stopped in Atlanta. Quite surprisingly, that airport was busy. Not full-time, no pandemic busy, but people were walking everywhere and there were many full waiting areas at gates. Of course, several airlines are using Atlanta as a hub destination, particularly during the pandemic, but it was nice to see a facility with activity at least resembling pre-coronavirus levels.

For me it was another reminder that America needs to get rolling again. Certainly not without regard to COVID-19 which, undoubtedly, will lead to many changes in the future. I guess we’ll find out soon enough what some of those changes will be. For now, stay healthy.


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