Flying Air Canada A320 Business Class In The Coronavirus Era

Filed Under: Air Canada

Note: I took this trip to be able to report back on what international travel is like nowadays, since it’s something a lot of people have questions about. If you do choose to travel, please make sure you take appropriate precautions, not just to protect yourself, but also to protect others. Also consider the risks and constantly changing rules surrounding travel, which can significantly complicate things. See the introduction post in this series for more background on the precautions we took, and the potential risks.

Our first flight enroute to Bodrum was from Fort Lauderdale to Montreal on Air Canada. Let me share the itinerary that we booked to get to Bodrum, and then I’ll get into my review of Air Canada’s updated business class service.

Our flight itinerary to Bodrum

Understandably airlines are operating limited schedules at the moment, and most routings to Bodrum involved three connections. We wanted to minimize connections as much as possible, and there were limited options that involved two connections.

Turkish Airlines had no transatlantic business class award availability for the outbound, so we had to look at other options. One of the few international flights into Bodrum at the moment is on Lufthansa out of Munich, on a twice weekly flight. Only one flight per week (on Saturdays) is timed to connect from transatlantic flights.

That meant we needed to cross the Atlantic on Friday, and Lufthansa’s only transatlantic flight on Fridays with the current schedule is out of Montreal (US routes seem to operate on Thursdays and Saturdays).

Long story short, we ended up redeeming miles for the following, all in business class:

7/10 AC913 Fort Lauderdale to Montreal departing 1:25PM arriving 4:44PM
7/10 LH475 Montreal to Munich departing 8:35PM arriving 9:55AM (+1 day)
7/11 LH1772 Munich to Bodrum departing 11:15AM arriving 3:00PM

I ended up redeeming Air Canada Aeroplan miles for this, at the per person cost of 57,500 Aeroplan miles plus $640 in taxes and fuel surcharges.

Those fuel surcharges are rough, so why did I book through Aeroplan? Because the Air Canada flight from Fort Lauderdale to Montreal only had award space through Aeroplan, and not through partner programs.

As much as it frustrates me to pay these surcharges, this ended up being the best option for a pretty direct route. Furthermore, given how empty the Montreal to Munich flight was, I felt like we really got quite a deal, since we were basically chartering a private jet.

Flying Air Canada in the coronavirus era

Our flight from Fort Lauderdale to Montreal was departing at 1:25PM, and we got to the airport at around 11:30AM. We intentionally arrived a bit early, just in case the agent had any issues with our itinerary.

After all, international travel restrictions are complicated right now. We were transiting both Canada and Germany, which are countries that allow Americans to transit, but don’t allow Americans to enter. Fortunately this turned out to be a non-issue.

Despite flights around the same time to both Toronto and Montreal, Air Canada check-in at FLL was deserted. Our temperatures were taken and we were asked if we had any COVID-19 symptoms.

The check-in process was painless, and our boarding passes were issued once the check-in agent confirmed we were allowed to enter Turkey.

Air Canada check-in Fort Lauderdale Airport

Fort Lauderdale Airport check-in hall

There weren’t any other passengers at the security checkpoint, so we were through in less than a minute (CLEAR was closed, but in this case that wasn’t much of a loss).

Fort Lauderdale Airport security checkpoint

FLL Terminal 2 Concourse D isn’t exactly the prettiest departures hall, though it was quiet and there was plenty of space to distance.


Fort Lauderdale Airport gate area

Our flight to Montreal was departing from gate D3, and boarding was scheduled for 12:50PM. The flight had only about 60 people on it, and 10 of those passengers were in wheelchairs, so they were pre-boarded.

Air Canada boarding gate

At around 12:55PM an orderly boarding process started, with business class passengers being invited to board first.

Air Canada 913
Fort Lauderdale (FLL) – Montreal (YUL)
Friday, July 10
Depart: 1:25PM
Arrive: 4:44PM
Duration: 3hr19min
Aircraft: Airbus A320
Seat: 2F (Business Class)

There were two flight attendants at the door wearing gloves and masks, though they didn’t say a word as we (or anyone else) boarded.

Air Canada’s A320 business class cabin consists of 14 seats, spread across four rows in a 2-2 configuration (the right side of the cabin has an extra row, as there’s a closet on the left side).

Air Canada business class cabin A320


Air Canada business class cabin A320

Seats have about 38″ of pitch, so they’re comparable to what you’d find in domestic first class on a US airline.


Air Canada business class seats A320


Air Canada business class seats A320

Air Canada has personal televisions and little footrests in A320 business class.


Air Canada business class legroom A320

There were individual air nozzles at every seat, and also power outlets underneath the seat consoles.


Air Canada business class individual air nozzles A320


Air Canada business class power outlets A320

The tray tables folded out from the far armrests.


Air Canada business class tray table A320

Once settled in, the flight attendants distributed little baggies, each of which had a bottle of water, a mask, gloves, two disinfecting wipes, and hand sanitizer.

Air Canada gloves, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and water


Air Canada gloves, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and water

The boarding process was quick since there were only about 60 people on the plane, and everyone was onboard within about 10 minutes. There were just nine passengers in business class. We were lucky in that the row behind us, the row to the side of us, and the seat in front of me, were all empty.

The door closed at 1:05PM, 20 minutes ahead of schedule. An Emirates 777 happened to be landing as I took a picture out the window, which put a big smile on my face.

Pushing back from FLL

At 1:10PM we began our pushback, at which point the safety video was played. At 1:15PM we began our taxi, and by 1:20PM we were cleared for takeoff for our 2hr55min flight to Montreal.


View after takeoff from FLL

About 20 minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off, at which point the crew changed into PPE. Or at least they wore white gowns in addition to masks, gloves, and glasses.

For some context on Air Canada’s staffing right now, the company has laid off 5,100+ flight attendants during the pandemic, and that was done purely based on seniority. Those flight attendants still flying all have well over 20 years of seniority at the airline. As you might expect, this was a pretty senior crew.

That situation is in stark contrast to what we’re seeing in the US. US airlines have received payroll support through September 30, and at most US airlines it’s the most junior flight attendants flying, rather than the most senior flight attendants (who are getting paid to stay home). That situation will likely change as of October 1, when US airlines start furloughing employees.

Air Canada crew PPE

Earbuds were distributed after takeoff.

Air Canada business class headphones

The crew then distributed snack boxes in business class.


Air Canada business class snack

This included a chicken wrap, some sort of a potato and salmon appetizer (or something), roasted salted almonds, and a Kit-Kat bar.


Air Canada business class snack

We were also offered a bottle of water.


Air Canada business class water

The only further service was that trash was collected. There was no other drink service, no refills of bottled water, etc.

I also found it interesting that the crew never said a word to us. That’s not necessarily a bad thing — it’s my understanding that the crew is supposed to minimize interaction with passengers, and I’m totally fine with that (it’s yet another form of risk mitigation). It’s just not often you take a flight in business class and a crew member doesn’t say a single word. But we’re also living in a new era.

Map enroute to Montreal

I spent most of the flight working. Air Canada has Gogo wifi, so I was able to stay productive, as there wasn’t much else to do. My Gogo membership worked on this flight, but otherwise a wifi pass for the flight would have cost 12.95CAD.

I’m trying to avoid using bathrooms as much as possible on planes right now, but checked out the forward lavatory before landing.

Air Canada A320 business class lavatory

At around 3:45PM we began our descent. One thing that hasn’t changed about aviation nowadays is that looking out the window at the world below is still mesmerizing.

View approaching Montreal


View approaching Montreal

We touched down in Montreal at 4:15PM, and had a five minute taxi to our arrival gate from there.

Air Canada A320 Montreal

Suffice to say the journey got much more interesting from this point forward, with our surreal layover and near private jet to Munich…

Air Canada business class bottom line

It’s fascinating to see how different airlines are handling service during the coronavirus pandemic.

Air Canada has made significant adjustments to its onboard service. The flight attendants remaining at the airline right now have 20+ years seniority, as all others have been laid off. These flight attendants wear masks, gloves, and white gowns.

As far as food and drinks go, in business class there was a snack box and a bottle of water, but nothing else. The crew didn’t even say a word to us while providing the service.

Let me emphasize that I’m here to report on what things are like right now, and I don’t necessarily have a strong opinion on how things should be when it comes to airline service.

More so than ever before, airlines are prioritizing safety over all else, and that’s a good thing. In my opinion airlines should do what they can to encourage people to wear masks as much as possible, because we know that can help stop the spread of coronavirus. The less service is provided, the less time people will spend with masks off. Therefore on the surface less service seems like a good thing.

Does that mean airlines should cut service to this extent? I don’t know, though this was in stark contrast to my next flight, where it was more or less business (class) as usual.

What do you make of Air Canada’s updated service protocol?

Comments
  1. Did you transit Toronto to get to Montreal? Or did the flight have a one stop touring?

    “ We touched down in Toronto at 4:15PM, and had a five minute taxi to our arrival gate from there.”

  2. You do realizes that Turkey’s coronavirus situation is bad and the government is hiding the real numbers, right? Why would you fly there? Crazy. Sometimes I think you do almost no research about a country before flying there.

  3. Curious about the Canada transit restrictions in practice. What if you miss your connection and have to overnight? As an American you’re not allowed into Canada, right? Do you sleep in the terminal? What if you have to change terminals that have no sterile airside transit (i.e. YYZ T3 to T1)?

  4. ‘We touched down in Toronto at 4:15PM, and had a five minute taxi to our arrival gate from there.’

    I’m sure you meant to say Montréal not Toronto.

    Interesting how much aviation there is in and from North America in comparison to Australia, even if it is three flights a week rather than three a day. There are flights in and out here but we can’t fly out.

  5. @ GoAmtrak — All great questions, and something I thought about before booking this trip. Indeed, we weren’t eligible to enter Canada. As a result:
    1) I intentionally booked a four hour connection, because I wouldn’t have been comfortable if it were much shorter
    2) If we had been significantly delayed departing FLL then I wouldn’t have continued the trip

    I assume if you missed your connection you’d have to find a way out of the country and wouldn’t be allowed to leave the terminal. I know Canada allows sterile transit, but only between certain airlines and within certain terminals. So if a terminal change were involved then I don’t think this would have been allowed.

    It’s not straightforward stuff, and that’s why I plan on dedicating a post to all of the potential challenges/considerations if booking international travel.

  6. @ Tom — Anything you can point to, specifically? Not that I’m suggesting that what they’re reporting is 100% accurate, but Turkey has great ICU capacity, I haven’t seen much to suggest that Turkey’s numbers are way off, and also I feel like as Americans it’s hard to judge the performance of other countries, perhaps short of Tanzania. Furthermore, being here for a week now, I can say that I’ve seen significantly better precautions taken than in the US.

  7. I think there’s value in documenting what travel during COVID is like, and would be an interesting read in posterity. I also believe you tried to do the best job you could to minimize risk.

    That said… You live in an apartment in the middle of one of the worst epidemic centers in the USA, which is one of the worst managed country in the world when it comes to COVID. If someone were to travel and document it, I really believe (and without meaning to be offensive) that it should’ve been someone else.

    Travelling through 2 other countries just to get to your destination also doesn’t help (even if it’s the route with the least connection).

  8. With service levels reduced, is it even worth flying business class now if you’re flying around? From what I’ve seen on seat maps and heard on Flyertalk, economy is empty on transantlantic flights and everyone in that section has their own row to lay out without any neighbors.

  9. @ David — All fair points that I respect. I’d note two things, from my perspective:
    a) Countries don’t have to allow third country transit, so I don’t view transiting a country as being outside the spirit of the immigration policies.
    b) As I see it, if we are wearing face masks and face shields, and everyone else around us is wearing at least face masks, then the risk is quite minimal; airports are among the best public areas with very good mask enforcement
    c) Airports were deserted, so we never even got within six feet of anyone, except maybe the gate agent or the lounge attendant

  10. @ Kamaaina — That’s a great question. I’d definitely say “it depends.” I would feel extremely uncomfortable in economy on a full flight (and some transatlantic flights are full), while on an empty flight the premium for business class probably isn’t worth it. That being said, in the case of Lufthansa, it was basically the same service as usual in business class.

  11. @Lucky – Do you still find value in purchasing/redeeming business class tickets on short-haul flights? It seems nowadays the only difference between coach/business is a SLIGHTLY larger seat and a plastic wrapped sandwich. Gone is any and all service.

  12. I told myself that the next time I fly, I’d probably feel the most comfortable using the airplane bathroom first upon boarding. Thx for the bathroom pic 😉 and looking forward to reading your nearly private jet experience!

  13. Thanks for bringing the “sterile” transit issue to light.

    There is already a petition to stop this abuse of the closed border by Americans.
    Hopefully the media will use this blog post to put more heat on the govt.

  14. @Ben

    I have no doubt you are not trying to play with any legal grey areas or gaming immigration laws, but I’m still not quite convinced telling your readers you’re going on an international trip is responsible.

    That said, I can’t really fault you for wanting to travel and you’ve probably taken as much safety precaution as possible (short of wearing full body PPE). Stay safe!

  15. There’s a lack of information on transit so good to have one data point. I would guess that piecing together multiple tickets (I.e. already having a paid ticket let’s say from Toronto to IST) but as an American having to book a separate award ticket from LAX to Toronto might be a no go? It’d be interesting how they handle it if you stuck with the same carrier even on 2 different tickets.

  16. When will you call out Air Canada for its refusal to issue refund flights it cancelled ? Do they pay you for advertising?

  17. @annabelle costa, not sure what your problem is with sterile transit for Americans. They come into contact with very, very few Canadians and none for any length of time.
    There are reasonable precautions and then there is rampant paranoia. I think banning sterile transit tips over into the paranoia zone (and I am Canadian).
    Don’t worry, the presence of an American in the sterile transit area will not cause you any harm in your basement in Gatineau.

  18. Seeing people wearing face shields is frankly ridicolous. Said from Europe looking at this really makes me laugh. Like all the restrictions, masks.. This virus is just a huge way to make psychological terror. One day is transmitted with a sneeze, one day is transmitted in the air, one day if you touch the door knob. The chances to get it are like 0.1% if not lower. The only result obtained by the psycho terror has been changing entirely how people behave…for the worst. (and i write from Italy.. 30.000 victims of covid, out of 61 million of people though and probably 75% didn’t even die because of that)

  19. Lucky you had to assume everyone would be mad online. That being said, thanks for writing a review and doing so responsibly. It’s ironic that so many find solace in angry online outbursts. Honestly, it was nice to flip onto your blog and see a review as the top line- like a little slice of what is the ‘new normal’. I also applaud you for finding a way to still run your business in the face of this- best thing is always to live a good life. I can only imagine the stress of having your normal business practices upended while dealing with a family illness- and practices like wearing a shield+mask show how serious you’ve taken it! I’d MUCH rather be where you are than Miami or the like. Enjoy the sunshine and give no credit to the haters. People are obnoxious, and some moron in a Kentucky Walmart without a mask is 1000x more dangerous than you! As always, love the blog and have a tiger milk for me!! Looking forward to more reviews soon

  20. Doesn’t seem worth the points + cash. Seems like one of those instances where you should just man up and fly economy – that flight doesn’t look much different than economy is what I’m saying.

  21. You wore a mask and a shield for the duration of all the flights? As in you slept with a face shield on from YUL-MUC?

  22. I held in a comment on your previous post, related to the inappropriateness of your frivolous travel under the current situation. Now that you have revealed your itinerary and it passes through Montreal, where I live, I can’t help but chime in. Your trip is inappropriate, dangerous, and unnecessary. None of the precautions that you claim to have strictly followed are 100% guarantees and you put other people at risk throughout your journey. There is a reason why Florida is currently the global COVID capital and Canada is doing significantly better than the US – people respected rules here. You should be ashamed of your trip – and I hope that you will lose other readers, as I will stop following your blog. Please don’t transit through Canada on your way home – we currently don’t want you coming to our country.

  23. “I also found it interesting that the crew never said a word to us.”

    Obviously you don’t fly Air Canada much!

    Living in Nova Scotia I used to regularly fly Air Canada’s (ancient) 767 between Halifax and London, and got used to the silent treatment from the very senior crews that routinely worked that flight.

  24. @LK and Richard

    Can’t emphasize enough the issue regarding vents in masks — PLEASE spread awareness that these masks do next to nothing to help prevent the spread of Covid. If worn properly they slightly protect the wearer but they do next to nothing to protect others.

  25. Hi Ben
    Have a great vacation, people need to move again and work at some point. The staff at Bodrum would be happy to see you guys, its tragic the situation in hospitality industry. I took a flight at the peak of the pandemic for an emergency and the hotel car had an amenity kit replaced by mask, sanitizer etc. Only room service; contact less check in. In a hotel of 400 rooms only 7 were occupied. Was an experience I will never forget. The face shield is more than comfortable, much more than the mask for a long haul. I had the same experience with the cabin crew, just the dropping off of the food packet and then came back for trash but they were calm, just masks and gloves. Enjoy your trip !! You will never forget it !

  26. Hi Lucky, did you wear the face shields even while sleeping on the LH flights to MUC. I’m traveling from Malaysia to the US next week and I am debating purchasing one for the flights.

  27. As a German citizen as well. You started in the US to Canada to Germany. No issues with quarantine?

  28. Really not wanting to shame here, but this seems like a totally uncalled for trip. I will always love your blog, but this trip seems really irresponsible. I get what you were trying to show, but it looks like a desperate attempt to get back to flying again.

    Thanks as always for the details, you do a great job. I just hope you take better judgement next time as this really seems very irresponsible to take leisure trips right now. Not hating on you – I still love this blog. Thanks for reading my opinion. Cheers!

  29. Two things:

    1. The mask & shield made you feel safe. The relevant question is whether they made you safe(r). Feelings are irrelevant.
    2. YQ is NOT a fuel surcharge. It’s a carrier surcharge that has nothing at all to do with fuel costs. It’s just something the airline chooses to add to your bill.

  30. Very smart for staff to avoid pleasantry talking (Hi, Goodbye….) I hope all airlines adopt that. A head nod could be substituted for any airline that feels they need to. Or a ‘smile’ with the eyes. One more way I can feel safer when I have to fly. Thanks for noticing that and putting that into print. Maybe other airlines will see it and follow.

  31. What’s the risk? I’m flying HND-LAX in 4 hours. Had a covi test. Wear masks and I too support the airlines. Flying QR next month. Mask up and no different than grocery stores.

  32. My trips have involved a path of least resistance. Non-Stops or a single quick connection if there are no other options. If that is not possible I don’t go – or change dates to when I can make it work within parameters. You chose to fly via BOTH Montreal and Munich to get to Bodrum. While clearly one connection is always necessary the idea that you are touting “being incredibly safe” does not work well with choosing to connect in two different cities and two different countries. Why did you not choose different dates? Or route out of Miami through Europe when it was possible to connect to Bodrum seamlessly so as to avoid flying through Montreal? Or, better yet, wait until Turkish has business class open again for redemptions? You chose an extra leg and far more time in transit…that is not choosing the “safe” approach. For you or for others.

    Again, go, have fun. But stop trying to tout this as some sort of safe trip of critical importance. You connected via two countries to sit on a beach.

  33. Have loved this blog over a decade. Pre RS.

    Will keep reading but this whole trip report is going to make me queasy.

  34. I think everyone is missing the point. Ben showed us what responsible (fill in the economic activity you care about here) looks like. Wear a mask ( the right kind @Lucky!) and take all the precautions recommended by competent authorities. And people seem to forget we aren’t trying to quash the virus a la New Zealand or Taiwan, America is too big for that to be a reality. We’re only trying to keep the curve as flat as possible.

  35. @Belinda, no. What America is currently doing is letting things get way way out of Hand. And what you’re doing is travelling to countries which are trying to quash the virus (such as turkey, or as lucky discussed the idea of Europe) which is only going to further increase the spread

  36. 10 W/CR passengers out of a total 60 pax sounds very high. Curious if there was any obvious reason.
    Maybe connections to India from Montreal?

  37. @Callum, it’s the rate of viral spread at issue not the mere increase in spread. Viruses spread, that’s their nature. We cannot fully stop it, only attempt to slow it. Take a breath and keep calm.

  38. @Tim we can slow it to be almost negligible (see countries in Asia, in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, etc). By travelling from a hotspot (Florida) to elsewhere you’re adding to the rate at which it spreads. You can see in Melbourne, Australia it took a small outbreak and all of a sudden it spikes massively. Is it really wise to be travelling from hotspots through multiple airports to another country (with incorrect PPE to protect people) just to satisfy the urge to travel? Whilst also not travelling domestically due to the same risk of hotspots

  39. @Belinda, you may be right that Lucky traveled responsibly, but all that is negated by the fact he traveled unnecessarily. Unless you all think a travel review is an essential purpose?!

    And as an airline employee, let me just nip in the bud all you other people who would love to travel under the guise of “supporting our airlines.” I and my coworkers are not in the skies and in the terminals waiting for your support. We are putting our safety on the line to get those needing travel for essential reasons to their destinations. And while I may give some a bit of subjectivity to the word “essential,” I’m pretty sure that Lucky and Ford’s vacation to Bodrum doesn’t deserve it.

    Thirdly, I will say that a lot of this was preventable if the majority of our country had heeded the lessons certain states and metro areas were forced to learn through blood, sweat and tears. But instead we have rallies, COVID parties and yes, trips to Bodrum.

    And finally, Lucky, as a fellow gay man, I am just going to say I’m shaking my head at your choice to destination. Of all the places in the world to visit, during a pandemic or otherwise, for you to visit such a virulently, nationalistically homophobic country is disappointing. Are you going to spend a few days on your return in Russia? Or Syria? That even a small amount of the money you spend there will go to a man like Erdogan is shameful. And that goes doubly considering you’re an American.

  40. @ Rob — Wait a second, I’m so confused. Your recent comments on the blog have been shaming airlines for cutting service during the coronavirus pandemic, like this recent one:
    “Sad to see another airline taking advantage of the pandemic and cutting its service to high paying (or redeeming) customers. No champagne and plate service. No unique bedding and turn down service. No in-flight snack bar.”

    Yet you’re also saying airline employees are putting their safety on the line to get essential travelers to their destinations, and no one should be flying for non-essential reasons?

    Hmmm? I think maybe your perception of the priorities of essential travelers may be a bit off?

  41. @ glenn t — It sure seemed to me like there were a lot of snowbird-type travelers who may have been returning home to Canada, but also have a place in Florida. At least that would be my assumption based on what I saw.

  42. @ Ross — Most definitely not during turnarounds, I would assume (and the plane had just arrived from Montreal). However, we brought our own disinfecting wipes, and wiped everything down.

  43. I can’t imagine flying like that right now. Traveling was my whole life before COVID. Now I have moved on and found new hobbies .

  44. @Rob – I think you are being a bit harsh in your criticism of Lucky’s choice of destination. I am gay too and Turkey is one of my favorite countries to visit. Sure, there are issues but the same is true of most countries. They have spectacular places to visit, the food is incredible, the people, for the most part are awesome, the food is superb and my god, the men are good looking. I’ve felt much more uncomfortable as a gay man in parts of the US than I’ve ever had in Turkey. It is an awesome country.

  45. Lucky, while I don’t have the exact access to the record of my comments that you clearly do, I do recognize when they have been taken out of context. I would never shame an airline for their service (or lack thereof) especially on a blog where I read more about ridiculously perceived lapses of service. So I’m pretty sure that when I wrote that, it was sarcasm, calling out yet another round of complaints.

    Having said that, I don’t think that anything I’ve said, nor the cries of outrage from passengers going without pre-departure champagne, mean that airline employees don’t want to give as full a service as they safely can. Two things can be true at the same time. Unless you just suppose that flight crew are being lazy?

    What I do want to state clearly is that in my opinion, and I would suppose many others, your trip is unnecessary. Given that you are departing from Miami, the current top of the US curve, it is dangerous. And furthermore, the amount of planning you must have made to not just maximize your awards for seats, but a routing that allows you to transit as an American to a country that will (quite irresponsibly) allow you entry, shows a remarkable level of premeditation, and I’m sure a grand jury would agree.

    What I find curious in your response to me, or any others critical of your trip, was no defense of the validity of your travel: no urgent family matter, no once in a lifetime work/consulting opportunity, not even a singularly amazing destination wedding. Nothing that would garner even a bit of subjective understanding.

  46. @Rob have you ever flown with AC’s senior Montreal based flight crews? Its not a pleasant experience. Once flew YUL LHR with not one smile the whole flight and that was before COVID-19. The only thing that had saved AC recently were the younger crews but now they’re all on furlough. WONDERFUL!

  47. I am going to step aside from any view of whether you should be travelling or not. However, I think there are worrying indications in the articles below that show signs that Turkey may not be as ‘safe’ as you might think it is.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/07/turkeys-covid-19-infection-rate-rising-fastest-in-the-world
    https://www.ft.com/content/80bb222c-b6eb-40ea-8014-563cbe9e0117
    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-52831017

    While musing on my conflicted view on whether you should be travelling or not, I will, however, be reading your postings on this trip. That may well open me to the taunt of ‘hypocrite’ which I will just have to take on the chin.

    Continue to travel as responsibly and safely as you can. including physical distancing, masking, shielding and sanitising.

    I am both envious beyond measure and anxious about the safety of your travels.

  48. Thanks for this good report. As much as I like flying, it still seems like flying in a hospital. So, until this changes I pass. Enjoyed reading your review though. Really helps to determine when we can start flying again.

  49. I don’t think Lucky needs to motivate why he decided to travel. The virus will be with us for a long time to come. As long as he, and any traveler, do so responsibly I don’t see what the problem is.

  50. My God, that photo of the FLL gate area looks like it’s of an old Soviet airport in the 1970s! Is it always like that, or is it under renovation?

  51. Hi, just wondering if anyone knows which airlines have a reasonably ‘normal’ business class service level v.s. those airlines that have fully stripped down service like Air Canada described above?

    Would be helpful to have some sort of overview when looking at travel planning for Q3/Q4 (appreciating that world events are shifting all the time, etc.)

  52. I had to laugh that the hand sanitizer dispenser leaving FLL was Delta branded, although I am proud to see their commitment to cleanliness extends past their gates/into share gates.

    I do appreciate your reporting from the field.

  53. Was there no award availability on TK out of MIA? Would’ve cut the connections down to just one 3 hour layover in IST. I unfortunately have to fly as well and saw incredible award availability on TK for the next weeks and months.

  54. Even though precautions were taken it was non essential travel and as Rob stated those that still work in the air are putting themselves at risk at all times. Was this trip really necessary? Points expiring, maybe?

  55. The way Delta handled this whole pandemic. When things go back to relatively normal (as a Canadian, this isn’t a political issue for us… most of us are not going anywhere until things are better), I’m going to go out of my way to fly Delta and avoid AA and United, even though I have no ST status.

    Actions speak louder than words, and it’s clear who cares more for their customers.

  56. Like others, I am perplexed by your trip and by your need to report about it. But I recognize and respect that there are differing views.

    Even if I take you at your word, however—that you took and reported about this trip because you wanted to see whether there is a path toward safe and responsible travel in the COVID-19 era—I have to wonder why you thought it was safe or responsible to take two connections through two different countries when you could have done MIA-IST-BJV on TK, or at least connected within the US instead of Canada, simply because of award availability. To me, that seems like you are willing to take precautions and be “responsible” only when it conveniences you and/or doesn’t cost you a lot of money. Also, you talk about how planes and airports are empty, allowing for social distancing, but if others followed your example, I wonder whether that would still be the case?

  57. @ Andrew — To answer your question, Turkish Airlines has over the past several weeks cancelled a majority of its flights to the US, and has proven extremely unreliable. I had initially considered flying Turkish Airlines from Miami to Istanbul (even though it would have been at the higher award cost through the Miles&Smiles program), but the airline canceled the flight I was considering.

    Furthermore, I’m not sure that transiting a country purely through the international sterile transit area actually increases risk to that country in any material way. If it did, wouldn’t you think that countries would place restrictions on transit passengers? A vast majority of countries haven’t. If you look at the post after this in the series, you can see just how empty the airport in Canada was.

    Lastly, for what it’s worth, I think the flight I took was possibly the least “risky” transatlantic flight imaginable. There was one other passenger in a 48 seat business class cabin. Talk about an opportunity to physically distance…

  58. Just to make a counter-comment to what @Alex form Italy said. In Italy, according to official statistics there has been an increase of overall deaths (any cause) compared to the same period in previous years (March April 2015-2019) of about 41.5%. If we restrict it to the specific regions affected by the virus the figure increases to 94.1% (22,000 deaths more than the average in the previous years) [https://www.istat.it/it/files//2020/04/Report_Scenari-Mortalità_Province_19-giugno-2020.pdf]. So “something” is going on. It is not business as usual.

    Also, about the cases/population ratio, if we argue we should only worry about diseases that affect 50% of the population in the span of a few months, then we should not worry about practically anything. Following this argument, even the people in Chernobyl all made a fuzz about nothing. After all, only 60 people died in the aftermath and all the deaths traced in the following decades compared to the population of Ukraine, Belarus and so on are nothing.

    We can then argue that we shouldn’t care about people who die. I just wish that those affected could be the ones making that choice, rather than somebody else imposing their “freedom”.

    Sometimes reality isn’t pretty and it is not the way we would like it to be, but we cannot change it by ignoring facts.

  59. I just wanted to acknowledge an embarrassing mistake on our end. I removed the picture of Ford wearing a face shield and face mask from this post, because some people pointed out his mask had valves (for what it’s worth, I was wearing a cloth mask without valves).

    This is a mask we initially ordered at the very beginning of the pandemic here in the US, back in March, when masks were hard to come by. We realize now that there are concerns with these masks with valves, and they’re banned in some areas.

    We’re sorry — we had no clue that this was an issue, or else he would have never worn it. Hopefully the risk was mitigated somewhat by the use of a face shield. The mask is now in the trash, where it belongs (at least during this pandemic), and hopefully others can at least learn from this.

    This was a learning experience for us. We had consulted CDC recommendations for wearing masks, and oddly the recommendations don’t at all reference these. And now that I search the CDC website for the word “valve,” the only reference I can find to these is on an FAQ about PPE (presumably not coronavirus specific), which suggests these only shouldn’t be worn in sterile environments, like during a medical procedure:

    “My N95 respirator has an exhalation valve, is that okay?
    An N95 respirator with an exhalation valve does provide the same level of protection to the wearer as one that does not have a valve. The presence of an exhalation valve reduces exhalation resistance, which makes it easier to breathe (exhale). Some users feel that a respirator with an exhalation valve keeps the face cooler and reduces moisture build up inside the facepiece. However, respirators with exhalation valves should not be used in situations where a sterile field must be maintained (e.g., during an invasive procedure in an operating or procedure room) because the exhalation valve allows unfiltered exhaled air to escape into the sterile field.”

    Obviously this was our mistake, and I’m happy we at least learned something from this (and hopefully others who were making the same mistake did as well), and that this was worn in conjunction with a face shield. My apologies, once again.

  60. I usually stay out of the comments section of my husband’s blog, but I wanted to address the mask some saw that I wore during our journey to Turkey.

    I’m grateful that it was brought to my attention that a mask with valves, even an N-95 respirator, may not protect others as masks are meant to. As a young, healthy person my primary concern IS and always has been the health of others during this pandemic. I have both a high-risk parent elderly father with diabetes and a mother-in-law with cancer, so I do have a personal understanding of how important it is to take precautions when in public or around others.

    I ordered the aforementioned mask at the beginning of the pandemic after reading that this mask was one of the best available in terms of protection, and we have of course learned a lot over the past few months and now know this is not the case. The mask is in the trash, and I’ll be wearing a disposable cloth mask and face shield for future travel.

    I’m embarrassed and feel badly about this mistake, and now that I know better, I will certainly do better.

  61. @Alexh

    Lufthansa is currently providing a close to normal business class service. I posted a trip report at Flyertalk comparing the two on a recent trip (AC eastbound, LH westbound).

  62. Wondering why the still board first/business class first. In a time where the idea is to maximize social distancing, wouldn’t be wise to board the back of the plane first and move it forward? For example, you board row 45 first, then 44, ….., by the time they book first class nobody has to walk by you. If you just board first, then the entire plane walks by you while you are seated.

  63. Santastico, I thought one turns left for First Class (wink) while the rest of the cattle turn right? So how do they walk past those in F lol

  64. @Marco
    Duh…. How many times have First Class turned left on an A320 or B737 type?
    Passengers will always enter by Door 1L, so the only people turning left are the flight crew!

  65. Re Boarding: Multi Aisle jets usually board from the door behind J/F and so anyone in JF will be forward of the masses so boarding first is not a bad thing.

    Re: Face Masks and the valve

    In some respects I don’t see the problems with the valved N95 masks. Before you dump please think about the following:

    – masks do not block the virus nanoparticles. Eventually the virus will penetrate any mask.

    – the main purpose of the mask is to prevent projectile transmission – which in a violent sneeze can reach 75 feet or more.

    – so the cloth mask is only to limit the distance the virus spreads that is why SOCIAL DISTANCING is necessary even when wearing a mask.

    – in surgery, social distancing in NOT POSSIBLE thus the valve masks would not protect anyone as the virus would be in the immediate sterile zone near the exhaust valve. This is why they are useless in the hospital but I cannot see why they would not be just as good as grandma’s cloth mask she gave you as a gift or whatever piece of bling you are wearing. Its the distancing that provides some protection. You can’t project through a valve.

    – you can still eat and drink while wearing a face shield

    – face shields are much nicer to wear and definitely stop ALL PROJECTION – in either direction. I would gladly wear a face shield as opposed to a mask as I think they provide more protection, are easier to wear without compromising the safety (always playing with the mask to put it back over my nose for example), and are re-usable. Again the protection is the distancing.

    – but will airlines allow face shields in lieu of a dumb mask. probably not. At this point it is all about political correctness. Maybe a dark face shield would make it impossible to notice that I’m not wearing a dumb mask.

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