I figured, after five months of pandemic, that the airlines would have their acts together. Delta, after all said they would keep the middle seats open.
So we picked Delta to fly our kid down to south Florida for his first year of college. Because we valued safety and security, and apparently Delta understood that.
Boy, were we wrong.
Leaving out of LaGuardia? No problem. Checking kid in to school? No problem.
At the school: Masks signs and social distancing signs everywhere? Yes. Masks required everywhere on campus, even outside? Very heavy-handed for outdoors, for sure, but some people are incapable of understanding nuance. So a one-size-fits-all solution.
At the local Bed, Bath & Beyond? Everyone masked. Target? Everyone masked.
Not bad for Florida, eh? So far so good!
But we had to come home. And fly through Miami International Airport.
Now there are only a couple real choke points at an airport: TSA and the actual plane.
As we approached the security checkpoint I saw a couple people with chin masks — the same types of people who believe that a condom on the balls is effective.
Well, I was sure TSA would take care of that, right? Let’s face it, the chance of dying from COVID significantly exceeds the chance of my plane being blown up.
And then I saw a TSA agent with the nose poking out. And remember, this agent is working with others who had the ability to correct the situation, or have supervisors correct the situation. But there was the schnozz.
And worse yet, there was no crowd control and people lined up tightly to put their stuff on the belt to be x-rayed and walk through the full-body scanners (hold your breath!).
Five months into a pandemic and TSA doesn’t get it.
On to Delta in the vast and mostly empty Miami terminal.
They controlled boarding very well. No clogging of the jetways. Well done by desk agents.
But on the plane? Fuhgetaboutit. Now sitting in the most perilous part of the trip — trapped inside a tin can for hours with people immediately in front and behind you and breathing the same air. Now was the time that masks came down below the nose, or off altogether. Now?!
Delta made announcements. And claimed they would enforce the mask rule. But they didn’t. So the maskless stayed maskless.
One might think I should complain to one of the flight attendants, but they knew. They were going up and down the aisles making sure seat backs were up and trays stowed away. They looked. At everyone. They saw. They elected to do nothing.
Now remember that the primary objective of flight attendants is not serving you a beer. It’s safety. Like helping to evacuate a plane in an emergency. Everything after safety is a bonus.
Delta: If your flight attendants are antsy about confronting mask-holes, why not hire some out-of-work bar bouncers or event security personnel? They are not afraid of confrontation. Many of them have long experience dealing with belligerent drunks and other, assorted malcontents and troublemakers.
And then throw a bunch of people off the planes. And publicize it. Brag about it: “Our airline is the safest because we will throw the mask-holes off the plane! And then ban them for a couple years!” Now that’s the airline I would feel comfortable flying. And, I think, so would most others.
And, as good as Delta was with boarding it was awful with leaving. People racing forward to jam the aisle as if this was the old days when being rude was just being rude and not an actual danger due to proximity inside that long can.
So. A word to those considering travel. Based on exactly one round-trip flight on Delta to Florida. No matter what the airline says, assume they don’t have the stones to enforce their own security rules.
Will taking care of actual enforcement cost airlines money while they are losing buckets of it due to the pandemic? Yup.
But you know what else? The longer this pandemic goes on the more money they will lose. Some will go the way of Pan Am, TWA and Eastern. They have a self-interest in slamming the pandemic down hard, no matter how craven and stupid some public officials are.
And certainly don’t trust TSA to take care of <checks notes> security.