Wondering whether it’s like to fly right now? Whether you are up for it? Here’s my experience on my recent flights so you know what you may face.
I recently flew from Chicago O’Hare (i.e. a HUGE airport) to a midsize airport on United Airlines and then returned to Chicago Midway on Southwest Airlines. The experiences on these two airlines were drastically different, and not necessarily in a good way for one of these airlines. Here are a few thoughts based on my experience:
1. Be flexible and prepared for flight changes.
My flights were originally booked pre-COVID in February on Southwest Airlines. Between April and June, the flights were cancelled and/or changed five times. The closest change to the actual flight took place 8 hours prior to the flight with an email from United stating that they were changing aircraft and that the flight would now be completely full. Other changes included adding a layover to an existing non-stop flight; changing the flight time by a whole day; and cancelling the flight altogether. The vast majority of these changes took place in the 3 weeks prior to flying.
2. Be prepared for little to no service on the flight itself.
Southwest Airlines handled inflight service much better than United Airlines in my opinion. When boarding, flyers were offered disinfectant wipes if they did not have their own. Water and a snack were offered on the flight. Garbage pickup took place more often that a preCOVID flight. Flight attendants also discussed their safety and cleaning procedures onboard.
United Airlines offered no service but one garbage pick-up service. No beverages or snacks were offered, nor were disinfectant wipes.
3. Be prepared for limited food and beverage options in the airport.
The three airports I travelled through, Chicago O’Hare, Charleston and Chicago Midway, had very few opportunities to purchase food or drinks. The vast majority of restaurants, sundry stores and snack bars were closed.
4. Do not assume your flight, or the airport. will be empty.
Both United and American Airlines have stated they allow their flights to be fully booked. Southwest and Delta have stated that they will maintain their limited booking policies. Keep this in mind when deciding who to fly with and your comfort level in flying on full flight. Airports are getting busier too. Both O’Hare and Charleston were relatively empty, However, Midway was bustling and appeared to have normal pre-COVID number of people walking around at 11:00 am on a Wednesday.
5. Masks must be worn and can be hot. Bring extras if you can.
All airlines are mandating masks to be worn on-board. All airports require wearing masks inside the airport. Bring an extra mask or two that you can change out, especially on longer flights. If they are cloth masks, you’ll be glad to be able to wash out your mask once you arrive.
Overall, the flying experience definitely had its ups and downs, but as we return to a “new normal” at least for now, the steps taken by some airlines, over others, were certainly appreciated and apparent when comparing the two experiences.
As I sit here reflecting on our first day in London, one question keeps popping into my mind-why on Earth did it take me so long to get back here? My first visit to London was too long ago to admit, but let’s say more than one decade was involved. At the time I was 18, just graduated high school and starting a 3-week European adventure with my best friend and her family. I remember thinking, “well this is nice but it’s just like home. Look there is Pizza Hut and KFC! I thought I was in Europe!” After a few days we moved on to Paris and Italy and I finally felt like I was somewhere new and cool and exotic.
Flash forward to the present, I now have a teenage daughter who loves the Royals and a 10 year old son who likes history so London seemed like the perfect fit, but I admit I was more excited about returning to Paris, my all-time absolute favorite city, during the second half of the trip. Boy was I wrong not being more enthusiastic about this city.
Yes, it reminds me of the US in many ways. But every time I think that, London throws a curveball. The language is obviously the same but different: lift and lorries; chips are crisps but fries are chips. It’s the perfect segue into travelling to Europe or anywhere abroad.
While London’s historical significance cannot be downplayed, the city is modern and growing. Everywhere you look, there is building going on. From the top of the London Eye, I counted 14 cranes on the horizon. The population is diverse and expanding (some reports shows 35% of Londoners are foreign born) and most Londoners are embracing this diversity. One block alone housed Indian, falafel, Italian, burger and sandwich shops, along with the traditional English pub and even a Chipotle.
Yes, Royal London is everywhere for the tourist. Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, the Tower of London are all worth seeing, but there is a new modern Royal, arguably started by Diana and carried on through her sons and their families that make the idea seem less antiquated. The Diana Memorial Fountain near Kensington Palace, where she lived and William and Kate still live, was designed to be splashed in and walked around. It’s full of families splashing, young and old alike. Kensington Palace displays some of Queen Victoria’s jewels, but the gift shop also prominently features the cookbook that Megan Markle spearheaded to benefit the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire.
The Tower of London highlights the Crown Jewels, but even a 10-year-old is impressed by the 1000 year history, which includes the beheading of Henry VII’s wives and an impressive display of Medival weapons and torture devices. The tour led by the Beefeater describing Henry VII’s wives (divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived) captures everyone’s interest.
And for those whom the history doesn’t impress, Harry Potter is everywhere in walking tours, studio visits and on stage. A high-speed boat ride down the Thames is pretty cool too.
A few days in London only brushes the surface. A week is easily doable and leaves time for a more relaxed visit, but any time that can be spared is well worth the flight. That’s it for today..done and dusted!
The Free Dining Offer at Disney World is a great opportunity to enjoy a fabulous Disney Vacation for less!
Now through July 31, 2013, buy a non-discounted 5-night, 6-day Magic Your Way room and ticket package at select Disney Moderate, Disney Deluxe or Disney Deluxe Villa Resorts for arrivals most nights Sept. 2-25, 2013, and get the Disney Dining Plan FREE!*
Or, buy a non-discounted 5-night, 6-day Magic Your Way room and ticket package at select Disney Value Resorts for arrivals most nights Sept. 2-25, 2013, and get a FREE Quick-Service Dining Plan.
Buy this 5-night, 6-day Magic Your Way room and ticket package with FREE Disney Dining Plan for $92 per person, per day, for a family of 4, at a Select Disney Moderate Resort in a Standard Room for stays most nights Sept. 2-13, 2013, for a total package price of $2,201. That’s a savings of $919!
Or, buy this 5-night, 6-day Magic Your Way room and ticket package with FREE Disney Quick-Service Dining Plan for $75 per person, per day, for a family of 4, at a Select Disney Value Resort in a Standard Room for stays most nights Sept. 2-13, 2013, for a total package price of $1,779. That’s a savings of $635!
Ask about packages in other Resort categories and for other lengths of stay.
*Prices based on 2 Adults, 1 Junior and 1 Child. The number of packages available at this rate is limited. Savings based on the non-discounted price for the same package. Tickets valid for one Theme Park per day and must be used within 14 days of first use. No group rates or other discounts apply. Advance reservations required.
Offer excludes campsites and 3-bedroom villas and is not valid at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – Little Mermaid Standard View Room. Contact your travel agent at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or call Stacey at 404.409.4174, or Susan at 708.479.4693.
Catch a Southwest flight to Houston and you’ll be there in no time!
This fall, Disney Cruise Line® will say farewell to its homeport in Galveston, Texas. You can still get onboard and take advantage of a great lead rate—plus, receive an onboard credit and half-off deposit.
Lead rates for a 7-night Bahamian or Western Caribbean cruise start at $699 for an Inside stateroom, $749 for Oceanview stateroom and $899 for Verandah stateroom (per person, based on double occupancy).
Book a Disney Wonder® sailing and receive a $100 onboard credit with an Inside stateroom, a $150 onboard credit for Oceanview stateroom, or a $200 onboard credit for a Verandah stateroom—and receive half-off deposit if booked through July 31, 2013.
Travel Window: Valid on most 7-night sailings from Sept. 28 – Nov. 16 and Nov. 30 – Dec. 7, 2013 To book your trip or for more information, contact your travel agent at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or call Stacey at 404.409.4174, or Susan at 708.479.4693.
We are experienced travel agents who are well-traveled and well versed in locations throughout the US, Europe, Mexico and the Caribbean. We will work with you to ensure that your trip is what you want, creating a tailor-made trip for you and your travel companions, whether its family, friends, or on your own.