I guess I’m one of the few people in the world who travelled quite a bit during Covid. Of course, all of my planned travel to Turkey and Greece, during the early hours of Covid in 2020 was cancelled, but that didn’t stop me. Surprisingly. In June of 2020, I took (an expensive) state department repatriation flight from Jeddah to Washington DC so I could spend the summer with family. That two month ordeal turned into a three and a half month ordeal as I wasn’t able to fly back until October 2020.
Restrictions had let up by December, so I flew back to the US for Christmas, only to have my time extended until mid-January due to further flight restrictions. Then in June 2021, I flew back to the US again, and just this week, arrived back in Jeddah.
Travel during Covid has been strange, for sure. The 2020 travel was actually kind of enjoyable for weird reasons. While no one enjoys wearing a mask on a 12 hour flight, or no one enjoys paying an arm and a leg for a negative Covid test just so you can fly, EVERYONE enjoys empty flights and empty airports. It was amazing. Rather than trying to find a seat in the old Jeddah airport and having to literally climb over people sleeping on the floor, waiting for their flight, we had the entire terminal to ourselves! We arrived in the US and there were no lines. Anywhere. There were no people. Anywhere. It was like, where am I? It had the feeling of travel, I suspect, from the 1950s. When one could casually stroll through the airport and have a pleasant time without the over-stressed security and the overbearing hoards of people.
I was on many flights where I had entire rows to myself. Sometimes nearly entire sections. My bags rolled off onto the carrousel within minutes. I was out the door and into my rental (no lines there either) within a few more minutes. It was wonderful!
I knew it couldn’t last. Nor do I want it to. Well, maybe only for selfish reasons, but we all want the economy to roar back and we want normality again. Right?
This last trip back to Jeddah made things start to feel normal. Sure, I still had the inconvenience of spending two nights in a hotel so I could get my Covid test, I still had to wear a mask at the airport and on the plane, but the lines were back. My first flight to Jordan was packed. No empty seats. Social distancing? Ha! There were lines at the restaurants in Amman airport. My flight to Saudi was packed. I thought, great, we are back to normal. How long will I have to wait on my bags?
As I cruised through immigration and approached the baggage carrousel, there they were. The universe was giving me a peace offering. It was reminding me that all is not lost. All is not terrible. Getting back to full-force travel will be okay: my bags were amongst the first off. I picked them up and walked out of the airport within one minute.
For everyone’s sake, let’s hope the rest of 2021 and 2022 will bring us back to the dreaded travel days before Covid. It’s what the world needs.