I took a poorly thought out mileage run to Malaysia last week and found myself wanting to return before I left. The tense return home during quarantine and uncertainty is not a feeling I wish to have again.
Call it foolishness, selfishness, dismissive, take your best shot – I will probably agree with you. I made a mistake and admitted so last week. You can leave a potshot in the comments but it’s not providing any new information. Frankly, at the beginning of the coronavirus issue, it seemed overblown to me. Following booking, my mood and the situation both turned for the worse. I called in to cancel the night before, waiting for a last-second waiver but ANA did not issue one.
Then, the night of my return, this flashed across my screen: Malaysia to Announce Lockdown Measures Monday Night – it was Monday at 8pm.
My mind wandered days before my return flight and I had trouble picturing just what I would find. The store shelves were cleared everywhere, ordering online didn’t appear to be a viable option, I tried. The hallways and terminals were hauntingly devoid of passengers. Flight attendants were on edge knowing that some may be taking their last long-haul flights for the interminable future.
Staff was kind at every level, gracious, in fact. I was recalling images of servers on the Titanic still going about their jobs as the seas rose in front of them.
I wish I could be certain I would be as professional, pleasant, and steadfast as those who cared for me as I came home.
US Customs and Immigration
Over the weekend, Chicago had a particularly difficult time receiving inbound passengers. It was on left media, right media, and even those narrowly considered to be center. It stayed prominent on media for days and I really considered my risk of contracting the virus just by standing in line to return to the country.
To compound that, I was returning on a new passport and up for renewal on Global Entry but it had not been processed. I was fearful of long lines in customs and making my connection home, which I was desperate to achieve. With limited domestic schedules, I considered I might have to drive home.
Then, a beacon of hope from Matthew as he texted me this image from Dulles after arriving back through London.
I found a similar scene at Newark.
Nervous Until I Walked Through The Door
Flight attendants were melancholic and I really couldn’t relax until I was safely behind my front door at home. My family had also become nervous as the situation turned from cautious to intensely concerned. But some seemed nonplused about the situation. Had I been watching too much news?
I was glad to be home. It was among the top five dumbest things I have ever done, made worse by the fact that it was more or less publicly executed in front of our readership here at LiveAndLetsFly. That said, I am better for having experienced it to inform my decisions in the future, and to tell others that it wasn’t enjoyable.
What do you think? Did you have a tense return home? Have you had to fly in the last week despite attempting to avoid it?