After I wrote about my first flight experience during coronavirus, I received many requests to keep everyone updated on the way back home to LA. Here it is! We flew with Allegiant again, the only airline to fly direct from LA to Little Rock and back again seasonally from June to August. If I can cut out any layovers, especially during COVID, I certainly will. While the LA flight departed at 6am, the Little Rock flight departed at 12:17pm making for what appeared to be slightly bigger crowds, although you wouldn’t know it from these photos…
Bill & Hillary Clinton National Airport is a gem. It’s smaller in size handling only 12 gates, and the check-in counter + security line is a breeze with only a handful of waiting passengers. Both Starbucks locations were closed alongside other eateries like Chili’s and Chick-fil-A, but we were able to grab a snack at the deli since it was lunchtime. Nobody wants to sit next to hangry Lesley.
Interestingly enough, the Little Rock airport seemed much busier than LAX, perhaps due to the time of departure and the fact that it’s also a much smaller airport – of course it was going to seem busier. Things are changing quickly these days, and the woman who checked us in for our flight mentioned that the airport sees more and more passengers every day which is a good sign for the travel industry and the many businesses involved.
We boarded the plane by rows, and since I booked our seats as far back as possible and away from other passengers, we boarded first. The back two rows were blocked to “protect the flight attendants” as they said, which was a win-win because no one was behind us. Some passengers say they prefer sitting up front during COVID because it’s last on and first off for them. Upon entering the aircraft, each passenger was handed a little baggie filled with a mask, hand wipes and gloves – a prevention measure I respected greatly. That wasn’t the case on the first leg of the trip.
The flight attendant on this return leg let us know that the In-Flight Magazines could no longer live in the seat-back pocket due to COVID and that only one passenger was allowed to wait in line for the restroom. Beverage service was administered, but the buy-on-board program does not offer complimentary anything, even water. The airline, like many others, uses HEPA filters which trap 99.97% of particles. We placed the blowing vents facing downward and on full blast because ventilation is any travelers main means of control by creating an invisible air barrier that blocks particles. We used hand sanitizer (you can never have enough!) after touching any surface.
There were 114 seats booked out of 177 seats available, making this flight about 65% full. Unlike our first flight, we did have a few children on the return. I know a lot of parents are nervous to fly with kids right now because how can you possibly keep a mask on a young child? I’m not sure you really can. What’s not a good idea is to have your nose sticking out of your mask, as seen in the below image.
On the ground at LAX
We landed to a very June Gloomy city, and then just like that, the sun came out to greet us. Gotta love LA. Because face coverings are required inside the terminal, flight attendants offered passengers even more masks as we got off the plane. Anyone found without a mask on could face up to a $1,000 fine. LAX was eerily quiet and empty around 2pm when we made our way towards baggage claim. Restaurants were closed with the only operating shop being one of those Hudson News Stand lookalikes.
LAX is also introducing new thermal imaging cameras that can check temperatures from a distance as people walk into the building. If someone has a temperature above 100.4, they’ll be taken for a secondary screening. The cameras are being tested initially in the Tom Bradley International Terminal. The airport has also set up partitions and shields at reservation desks and more than 250 hand sanitizer stations are available.
It’s tough to find an Uber during COVID-19, and I get it. No one is going anywhere, so no one is driving anywhere. After taking the LAX bus to the Uber/Lyft/Taxi lot (terrible system btw), we waited a few minutes before realizing an Uber just wasn’t in the cards. We walked to the taxi line instead and immediately hopped in. Although I loathe taxis in the age of Uber, I was very thankful for a ride home.
After completing this round trip ticket, I felt safe throughout both legs. I am, however, surprised that temperature checks are not administered at boarding. I’ve been told that some airlines do administer them, but I have yet to see it happen. Allegiant does not block middle seats, but if you want to ensure social distancing, make sure to fly Delta, Southwest or JetBlue who are doing so through the end of the month or longer. Wearing a mask for 4.5 hours isn’t exactly comfortable, but that’s the price we pay to travel right now as responsible travelers – so *please* be responsible.
I appreciated the amount of information given out by our cabin crew to make us feel more confident in flying Allegiant as well as the prevention measures distributed during the boarding process. A world without air travel is a sad reality, so let’s get back to it in the safest and most sustainable way possible!