5 Things That Felt So Weird On My First International Flight Since The Pandemic Hit
So many things have changed! ✈️
This Essay article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
A few weeks ago, I ventured outside of Canada and visited the U.S. for the very first time since the COVID-19 pandemic started — and I was not expecting just how weird it would be.
It's been about three years since I've gone to the Vancouver Airport to go on an international trip — or on any trip for that matter. For the most part, I've remained in my hometown of Vancouver, and have definitely not stepped foot on a plane.
As things started to open back up, I thought I was due for a little bit of sun — so I booked a trip to Palm Springs.
I was expecting it to feel a little bit strange of course — after all, I'd basically forgotten how to get through security. Still, I wasn't quite prepared for just how much had changed since the last time I flew.
If you're planning a trip anytime soon, and haven't been to an airport in a while, make sure you go a little bit more prepared than I was.
These were the things that left me completely shook when I travelled internationally for the first time since the pandemic hit.
The cost of the COVID-19 testing
Westjet wing in the air.
This was a big one for me. Obviously, before the pandemic, COVID-19 testing before flights was non-existent. Now, if you are flying to the U.S. from Canada, a test is required.
Although you no longer need the expensive PCR test, the COVID-19 Antigen test was not cheap either.
My required COVID-19 Antigen test was an additional expense of $82.95, that I would have never spent travelling prior to the pandemic.
When I was already spending so much money on a vacation, any extra costs just hurt that much more.
How people treat COVID-19 is way different
Crowds at Disneyland.
I did do lots of touristy things in California including visiting local zoos, hitting up a comedy show and even driving all the way to Disneyland.
The thing that shocked me the most about being in the U.S. was that hardly anyone was wearing a mask. It was a bit of a surprise going from such strict travel rules to seeing people be so relaxed about COVID-19.
No matter the local epidemiological situation, while going to a different country, you have to prepare yourself for different COVID-19 regulations and behaviours these days.
You don't just get free water anymore
Ashley Harris taking a selfie on a plane
I travelled with Westjet from Vancouver to Palm Springs, and as soon as I entered the plane, I was greeted with a free sanitizer wipe.
This felt so weird because I would never usually start off my flight by wiping down my entire seat, armrests and tray table — although I probably should have been, even before!
It was not expected of me that the flight attendants would be handing these out — I really thought this would be something that we were just supposed to bring on ourselves.
Plus, throughout the entire flight — unless I was eating or drinking — I had to wear my mask. However, it wasn't half as bad as I expected it to be.
I guess over the past few years I've really just gotten used to wearing a mask on my face all the time that I kind of just forgot it was even there.
The crowds are back
Crowds at Disneyland.
Part of travelling for me is doing various activities. That basically means going and being surrounded by crowds of people.
While at home I just stick to my normal routine, but away I was going to full capacity events.
At both the comedy show I went to as well as Disneyland, it was a weird feeling to be shoulder-to-shoulder with people again.
Before the pandemic, none of this would have bothered me at all!
Now, I almost felt offended if someone is standing too close to me, and it's definitely something that will take some time to get used to again.
Nothing felt "normal"
Palm trees over a blue sky.
I was overall just surprised by how strange everything felt. The new protocols felt odd, even after two years of COVID-19 rules. Then things that have gone back to "normal" also felt quite strange.
What in previous years, would have been all about relaxing on a vacation, now seemed a bit tenser to my eyes.
I guess there is just a whole lot to get used to in this new version of normalcy in which we now live.
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