Ghost Flying During COVID-19
When it comes to flying in an airplane you think, crowded airport, uncomfortable seats, no room to stretch out your legs, and maybe some flight anxiety, But everyone hopes and preys for the flight to not be full to they could possibly have the chance of having the seat next to them be open or vacant. Southwest Airlines which is headquartered right here in our very own Chicago Midway Airport has had a very rough start to the year of 2020 and it’s not even from the pandemic that is currently going on. According to www.USAtoday.com “Southwest Airlines operations have been a mess since mid-February, about a week ago tallied 9,400 flights were cancelled and counting. Southwest broke down the 9,400 cancellations saying: 3,800 flights cancelled due to weather, another 2,800 due to a spike in airline maintenance write ups during the labor dispute and 2,800 from the max eight grounding, (Max eight being Southwest’s newest plane added to their fleet)”.
Now fast forward to today and flights are still being cancelled, but it is not because of the reasons listed before. No, it’s about the current pandemic and everyone social distancing and wanting to stay six feet apart from each other. With classes being moved to online, I took the opportunity last week to fly on down to Florida to reunite with my family, although the whole travel process was relatively the same, the experience is what made the trip like no other. When I first got to the airport, I went to check in to see if I would be able to board the flight that was leaving an hour earlier than my originally scheduled flight, Luckily, I was able to get my flights switched and I was already to go.
Now normally airports are crowded and filled with people and lines for the security checkpoints are packed. This time is wasn’t any of that, in fact you couldn’t even tell the airport was open. All the stores/restaurants were closed and there was hardly anyone in the airport. So, I was able to go from ticketing, get through security and get to my gate all with in about five minutes timed. Once I arrived at the gate I wanted to check to see if my flight was still on time, In doing this I came across my original schedule flight and come to find out with in those five minutes they had cancelled that flight making four of the six scheduled flight to Fort Myers that day cancelled. On my flight we were told that there were going to be a total of only six, that’s right! Six passengers on board, everyone was able to spread out get their own row and have kind of their own private flight. This was to be considered a ghost flight, A flight that takes off with 10 or less passengers on board.
According to www.Simpleflying.com “Last week American carrier Southwest Airlines logged 56 flights that took off without any passengers aboard their aircrafts”. They also say that “another reason why flights may have zero passengers aboard are because of layovers, The plane may be flying to Point A, then to B, over to C, then back to A. Passengers may be on the A to B, and C to A flights, But no passengers maybe on the B to C flights”. The flight itself wasn’t to much different other than no snacks or beverages were being served because of the pandemic. But since my flight was during the night the cabin was almost pitch black and all you heard was the sound of the plane’s engine. It was nice to have the luxury of your own row, but different and eerie none the less.