Flying During A Pandemic…My Southwest Experience
I love to fly. I have flown quite a bit over the past few years, many times cross country. But the year 2020 put a wrench into my annual flyover to Disneyland, due to the global pandemic and shut downs across the country and the world.
I was supposed to be embarking on a world tour in October of 2020…..cancelled. Looked to a road trip to Disneyland……cancelled. Then, a haunted tour, seeking out the paranormal. But even that ghosted me. Then, as if the Spirits of Halloween looked down (or up) upon me, a glimmer of hope. Or should I say, shimmering spectacle of neon.
Thanks to our friends at Southwest Airlines, I was able to experience something like never before, but yet similar. Yes, there were mountains, a long flight and that ever so dreaded dry weather that says, West Coast. However, I was able to experience air travel in a whole new way, shall I say even better in some regards than previous trips. Then there was miles of overwhelming “in your face” atmosphere. From pyramids, Eiffel Towers, “cops and robbers” walking down the boulevard and yes, my friends, music, and the sounds of slot machine rings and bings at every corner, we were able to go to Las Vegas!
I have to say, that I was slightly apprehensive about flying during a pandemic. I did not know what to expect and although I was secure in my host and sponsor, Southwest Airlines for this trip, you just never know. I arrived at my beloved Orlando Airport (also lovingly known as MCO) and it was beautiful. Again, it was quiet from adventures past, but I liked it. Masks are required at the airport and everyone was compliant from what I could see. Hand sanitizer was plentiful and social distancing measures were in place. For more detailed information on face coverings that are allowed and know before you go, check out https://orlandoairports.net. I will be posting another blog regarding MCO later this week.
THE SOUTHWEST PROMISE
Check in was very simple. I did most of it online through my phone and within a minute, had me boarding passes texted (or emailed) to me along with my boarding number. At MCO, they do perform temperature checks and once that was complete (just took a couple of seconds) I was on my way to the gate. Due to the safety protocols and social distancing measures in place now, Southwest is only boarding 10 people at a time, which frankly, was very nice. There was plexiglas at the ticketing and flight counters for even more safety and attendants and airport personnel where consistently cleaning areas and counters that I could see while I was there. You can print your luggage tags right at MCO, and I did it again at the McCarren Airport in Las Vegas, if you do not have a printer handy, and there was always a friendly staff member there to help me out with whatever I may have needed. Security was super quick and easy and although it tends to take a little longer because of the equipment that I carry for the streams, they were very efficient and I was in my boarding area in plenty of time. For more detailed information, check out https://www.southwest.com/promise/?clk=5284044&cbid=5284044.
The other perk (if you can call it that) at this time, is that Southwest is keeping that middle seat empty on all flights till November 30th. This was very nice and allowed for social distancing and a safe and comfortable flight. You are required to wear a mask during the flight, unless you are actively eating or drinking. I was also glad to hear about their Southwest Promise, which details enhanced cleanings and that every aircraft is equipped with a sophisticated air distribution system that introduces fresh, outdoor air and HEPA filtered air into the cabin every second while inflight, resulting in exchange of cabin air every two to three minutes. I have talked about this more in my Instagram story as well as you can learn more in the video below. Families of course can still seat together on flights, but just knowing that this was a priority on their flights, really makes Southwest one of the stand above the pack airlines to choose from for your next vacation trip.
Other great features of traveling with Southwest is their 2 bags fly free (subject to weight and size restrictions). This is great for a traveler like me who just needs some clothes, few personal items and of course, the “backpack” to bring along the Mayne Mafia to many of the 100s of destinations that Southwest flies to. If you want to bring along your fur baby, you can do that too. Southwest allows small, vaccinated domestic cats and dogs to fly in-cabin with you under the seat in front of you. They have certain requirements in place for pet carriers allowed and you can even purchase a Southwest pet carrier as well. I know that if I did have Tigger come fly with me, I would be much more at ease (and so would he) if he could be with me on the flight.
The flight to where you are going always seems so long but being able to connect to movies and live TV and IHeart Radio did make it go faster. Although it gives me a chance to get things set up for the streams and organize things, it does tend to give you a break and let you sit back and relax. Their inflight entertainment options are totally free to you, so you don’t need to purchase WiFi to access them. Bring your favorite viewing device and headphones to take advantage of all the free entertainment options–the hardest part will be deciding what to watch! They also offer you snacks and water on flights over 250 miles so you can have your movies and snacks while you watch. Meals and other service is suspended at the moment due to safety protocols.
If you need special assistance at the airport or during your flight, or someone in your party does, Southwest has a ‘special assistance’ link when booking your flight to help you set things up in advance and make your flight and airport experience much more relaxed and taken care of. Wheelchair assistance and assistance with other disabilities are available and making your needs known at booking helps Southwest, the airport and all those involved make sure that you will be taken care of when you arrive, from curbside to finding your seat on the aircraft.
Southwest not only has 100s of destinations in the United States but they also fly to Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. So, no matter where you are looking to go, they will be able to take you there. I know that I am so proud and honored to be partnering with Southwest and having had them sponsor this Vegas trip. Honestly, every aspect of the flight was great. Of course MCO (Orlando Airport) holds a special place in my heart and I have to say, it was great coming back here. It is a beautiful airport and of course, has that overall Disney vibe to it, which I love. The large atriums and fountains at the airport make it not only beautiful but relaxing and there are plenty of shops and places to eat and drink while you are waiting to catch your flight.
QUICKSILVER TOURS AND TRANSPORTATION:
I did get to MCO a bit early, and I mean early for me since I was there at 8:30am, thanks to Quicksilver Tours and Transportation and my driver Jeremiah, who was early to pick me up to take me to the airport. The ride there was very nice and comfortable, the vehicle was super clean and the conversation was casual and friendly. Shout out to Quicksilver Tours and Transportation, who are also partners with the channel, in making sure that this streamer got to the airport not only on time, but early enough to get everything I needed, some great Instagram pics and even a bite to eat before I got on the plane. They make sure that their vans, SUVs and sedans are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized between every customer and face masks are required by both the driver and the customer. You can book only with them at https://www.quicksilver-tours.com. They also made sure that I was picked up at MCO for my trip home and again Mike, my driver, was extremely nice and met me right on time (even with a super cool sign with my name!) Needless to say, knowing that someone is there waiting for you when you step off the plane is worth every penny and just lends to starting your adventure on a positive note.
SOUTHWEST VACATION PACKAGES
Did you know that you can book your entire vacation through Southwest, not just your flights? They offer tons of all-inclusive resort vacation packages and more with amazing travel deals. Plus, they also offer flight and car, and activities only packages. That means you can enjoy some of the best hotels in Las Vegas, the magical Disney resorts, beautiful Orlando hotels, breathtaking Cancun resorts, and plenty of all-inclusive resort deals. This makes booking your trip super easy and convenient with everything at your fingertips. For more information or to book your next adventure go to: https://www.southwestvacations.com.
In summary, I cannot say enough good things about my experience flying with Southwest and cannot wait till our next destination coming soon. I look forward to working with Southwest into 2021 and beyond and can honestly tell you that if you are looking to come into Walt Disney World and the Orlando area they will get you here safe, on time and comfortable. However, no matter where you choose to fly to from your home airport, I am sure that Southwest is there for you. Have you flown Southwest in the past? Did you enjoy the blog and the Instagram stories and posts? If so, please tag me in at @southwestair and let them know that you enjoyed the posts. Looking forward to our next trip Mayne Mafia. Wanna Get Away? Where shall we go next?
Spokesmayne; Southwest Airlines; Orlando International Airport; Quicksilver Tours and Transportation Services