I’ve been flying (nearly) nonstop for around four days now. Since leaving the United States, I’ve visited six countries. You know what they all had in common, and what has stood out to me more than anything? I’m hearing people cough to an extent I’ve never witnessed before.
There’s no need for ambient music in airports, or boarding music on planes, because people are providing all the background noise we need in terms of coughing. Heck, at this point people don’t even need to use headphones on planes as far as I’m concerned, because the coughing drowns it all out. 😉
I’ve never heard so much coughing in my life
Obviously this shouldn’t really come as a surprise. Between coronavirus spiking, the flu, RSV, and all kinds of other stuff going around, a lot of people seem to be sick at the moment. It’s hard to know based on the data how bad things actually are, since we’re not testing to the same extent as in the past.
I’m curious whether I’ve just had really bad luck, or if other OMAAT readers who are traveling are noticing this as well. It’s not just that I’m hearing people with the sniffles, or with the occasional sneeze. Rather I feel like I’m surrounded by people who are coughing multiple times per minute for hours on end.
On literally every single flight I’ve taken, there have been multiple people within earshot with a very loud, dry cough, multiple times per minute. And it’s not just for a few minutes, but rather for the entire flight. In some cases it has been someone seated at the opposite end of business class, while in other cases it has been the person seated across from me, or the person next to me in an immigration line.
At Bahrain Airport, for example, there was basically a chorus of people constantly coughing throughout the terminal. I’ve traveled a lot over the years, but I’ve never, ever witnessed anything to this extent before.
On a redeye flight I took last night, there was someone at the other end of business class who must have coughed every 20-30 seconds for the entire flight. I feel bad for the people who were seated even closer to him.
Here’s to hoping that I avoid getting sick…
My intent here isn’t to virtue signal, or to create panic, or to suggest the world should lock down again. Rather it’s to point out that this is the thing that has stood out to me more than anything this entire trip, and I’m curious if others traveling right now are noticing a similar trend.
There’s no denying that many of us are just generally more aware of sick people around us. The pandemic has changed the way many of us perceive health. I feel like before coronavirus, people would be like “I’m sick, but I’ll power through it and come to dinner.” Meanwhile now… not so much. As a massive introvert, I can’t say I minded the concept of “social distancing” (I’m talking about actual social distancing, not physical distancing). 😉
I’ve gone this long without getting coronavirus, and I’m hoping to keep it that way. It’s not just about my health, but I don’t want to get our infant son sick, and I don’t want to get any of the more at-risk older people in our life sick. Heck, I don’t want to get sick either — even a cold isn’t fun, and I have more travel planned next week, which I really don’t want to cancel. And unlike so many others, I have no plans to travel if I need to cough every five seconds.
For the past couple of years I’ve been adjusting my precaution based on the epidemiological situation at the time, as well as my surroundings. Suffice it to say that this is a trip where I’ve been masking a lot. Heck, for the first time ever, I even double masked, while standing in an immigration line next to a guy who couldn’t stop coughing (and even though masks were required, he took off his mask every time he needed to cough — oy!).
So during this trip I’ve been masking at airports, while onboard it depends on the situation. I try to wear a mask during boarding and deplaning, or if I’m seated near someone. Meanwhile if I’m trying to sleep and I have a significant amount of distance from the next person, I take it off.
According to my unofficial Dr. OMAAT assessment, I feel like coronavirus and the flu are out there among travelers to a level I certainly haven’t seen before.
It’s a bit unusual when the most memorable thing about a trip is just how many people are sick, but that’s exactly what I’m noticing right now (and there has been no shortage of other interesting things this trip!). I’m not surprised, ultimately, but I didn’t expect it to be quite this obvious.
Is it just me? Is anyone else traveling, and noticing an uncharacteristically high number of people who are sick?