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Flying in times of Pandemic

Flying in times of Pandemic - digital art

Since last year, in spring 2020, I had to cancel my  trip to the States, and precisely to Hawaii, and postpone it to the following year, this year I decided to go there anyway, and as the only possible solution  from Italy, since mine is not an essential trip, I went to Thailand 14 days earlier.  So many flights and routes before arriving in Kona, HI. 

You can hear what an airline is like right from the emails.To start my tortuous journey to the United States.  I took two flights with Eithad airways, from Milan to Abu Dhabi and from Abu Dhabi to Bangkok.  And already from the first emails after booking I felt a sense of concern and service towards the customer, making sure that they have all the documents in order and that everything was in order and giving all the information about the trip.  Which was then confirmed both at check-in and on the planes.  Extremely caring and attentive staff, they made sure I always had everything I needed before I even asked for it. 

Both flights began with a video featuring the mosque and praying to Allah accompanied by music.  I found the video and the music extremely appeasing, the same calm atmosphere that I have felt in the Muslim countries I have been to, and in the people of those countries I have known, even though I have also been in the midst of a war, but  it is the politicians who make wars and it is the media that create prejudices by distorting and manipulating reality.

Unfortunately I did not find the same peaceful atmosphere of Eithad airlines in United airlines.  Already from the first emails I felt like an intimidating sense, that every time I received one I had a lot of doubts and fears, and what if the documents don’t go well?  What if they don’t let me get on the plane?  And will it be true that if they don’t let me into the United States then I get stuck in Japan?  Between the two let’s say that Allah is great.

I also really liked Nippon airways, with which I flew from Bangkok to Tokyo, on the plane everything perfect, very kind, helpful, like Eithad they made sure I had everything I needed even before I asked for it.  The only drawback is that when the Nippon plane landed in Tokyo, it seemed like 100 Ferraris together trying to brake in full swing, the contact with the ground really thrilling, perhaps the pilot couldn’t wait to go home.

While United airways, in the flight from Tokyo to San Francisco, slowing down first, made a very soft and peaceful landing and so did the long braking, so much so that the pilot complimented himself on the microphone and I almost instinctively applauded.  I have always considered rather stupid the habit of applauding after a  landing.  As if landing was an exceptional event for a plane.  However that United landing was to be applauded, yes.

As for the welcome videos, each company has its own style.  The Eithad conveys the calm atmosphere of Arab culture and Muslim religion with a sung prayer as a kind of protection of the journey that is about to begin.United made a video that honestly seemed a bit crap to me.  A mixture of hostesses with different physical aspects, combined with different cultural identities, like saying that United is all over the world, so they put everything and more into it.  Have we not yet overcome the belief that a physical aspect corresponds to a cultural identity?

On the other hand, the Nippon video is superlative and high-level, in which they used real actors dressed and made up in full traditional Japanese style, combining travel instructions with theatricality and even a bit of comedy.

Anyway I’m sorry but I have to say it is too good to travel in times of pandemic, both airports and planes are empty, and it is a delight, there is no flight in which I have not slept and I had never been able to  sleep on a plane before.  On the plane from Milan to Abu Dhabi we were a dozen passengers in all, and on the plane from Abu Dhabi to Bangkok we were 9!

So not even the check-in queue.  Speaking of check-in, when I went to catch the flight to Tokyo at Bangkok airport, the whole wing of the ANA, Nippon airways, was deserted, except for a dozen employees behind the kiosks, and myself.

After a moment of trembling and panic looking at the departures board and seeing that all flights had been canceled, I felt a great relief seeing my plane line clean and marked IN TIME instead of DELETED.

It happens that the ANA has a ritual that when check-in time strikes, the employees each put themselves in front of their station and bow to the passengers, so suddenly I saw forming this line of Japanese employees  bowing towards me.  Surprised and amused, I bowed to them too.

In any case, even the United stewardesses are very kind, both on the phone and on the plane, they should only replace the person who writes the emails with someone who has a slightly more reassuring disposition.

Greetings from Hawaii.

The pitcure is an integration of two photos that I took from the windows of two different planes. It has my signature and it is a NFT.


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