Author Topic: COVID-19 Travel between Boston and Los Angeles  (Read 747 times)

Offline zow

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COVID-19 Travel between Boston and Los Angeles
« on: June 01, 2020, 12:37:53 AM »
With thanks to everyone who has helped me along the way, notably @yehoshua and @yehudaa, and @dan, of course. 
 
I started a new job in Los Angeles in mid-February.   Our family plan was/is for DW to stay with DD in Boston through June 2021, to allow the latter to finish high school.  We figured that I would fly back to our Boston home for Shabbat about twice a month, and DW would visit me maybe once a month.  As you have probably surmised, COVID-19 has thrown a big wrench into those plans.   As I fly back from Boston to LA this afternoon, I thought I would share some of my travel experiences over the past few months. 

March 2020
I flew three times in March.  Each time was weird and surreal.  The airports were virtually empty.  The freeways were empty.  Congestion in the roadways of LAX? Nada.  Lines at TSA screening? Walk right up to the desk—no waiting whatsoever.    I flew exclusively JetBlue in March, and almost every flight was virtually empty.   As I recall, when I flew B6 BOS-BUR on March 1, the flight was actually full —not even an empty middle seat.  But after that, the flights were gloriously empty.  When I flew Eastbound, I enjoyed “ghetto lie flat” each time.    Sadly, drinks and snack service went away very quickly, but since I was focused on sleeping (at least Eastbound), I didn’t care.   Toward the end of March, flight cancellations began to occur, and I found myself scrambling to fly in the time slot that I wanted.  I ended up flying through LAX, LGB, and BUR, depending on the flight schedule.   

April 2020.
The main reason why I flew three times in March was that our observations projected that the pandemic in Los Angeles would peak in early April, and I anticipated that my work (health care) might require me to stay put.  As I returned to LA on March 29, I remained hopeful that perhaps the crisis would abate and I would be able to get home for either the front end or the back end of Pesach.   Alas, work remained intense, so I didn’t get a chance to fly back to Boston until April 23. The flight and airport experience was similar to my March travel....Although I was worried about getting infected, the risk actually felt pretty low, as I was able to stay very physically distant from others.  Plus, I was wiping everything with Clorox wipes and using Purell liberally, though I wasn’t yet wearing a mask. 

May 2020
By mid-late April, airlines had started to cancel their flights.  The changes hit me pretty hard, as AA, UA, and B6 all dropped their Eastbound red-eye flights.  B6 used to fly red eye to BOS from both LAX and LGB, and initially they consolidated to one flight, but by early May, even that was gone.   Back in January, when I took the new job in LA, the plan was that I would fly Thursday night back to Boston and work from home on Fridays. That plan worked out well in the beginning, but with the abolition of the nonstop red eye, I had to resort to improvised schedules.    AA offers a midnight flight to PHL (and one to CLT), but the connecting flight doesn’t get into BOS until late morning.    I’m pretty sure B6 previously did offer a late night flight LAX-JFK with a connection to BOS, but AFAIK, that’s gone for now.   When I flew in early May, I put together my own red-eye itinerary: LAX-PHX on AA, with a 2-hour layover in PHX, then PHX-BOS on B6.   It was a pretty good flight and got into BOS around 7am.  As far as I can tell, it’s currently the only way to fly Eastbound red eye and get to Boston before 0800.   If someone else can figure out another option, please do share!  This week, before Shavuot, I did the AA LAX-PHL-BOS flight, which got into BOS around 10am.  It wasn’t terrible, timing wise, but sadly the flight was pretty full.  I suppose I should be grateful that I had a  window seat and that there was an open  middle seat next to me, but sleeping upright is very, very tough for me, even medicated.    The glory days of ghetto lie flat seem to be over, at least for now.

The return flights from BOS to LA have been similarly decimated.  When I first started this commute, B6 offered both the late evening flight (leave BOS after 9pm, get into LA after 1pm) and the afternoon flight (5pm-9pm).  I quickly realized the latter better suited my sleep and work patterns and still allowed me to have most of the Sunday with family in Boston.   But the point really was moot, because there is now only one daily nonstop flight BOS-LAX, and that flight departs at 0800.  That’s  just not a good fit for me — I need at least half the day to enjoy in Boston.  So, I have resorted to connecting flights departing mid-late afternoon.  I’ve flown United through Chicago to LA, but I think that option is gone.  I flew AA through Chicago (I think).  And the last two trips, I’ve flown WN via DEN.   

When I flew DEN-LAX the first week of May, the boarding process was a hot mess.   WN has modified their “proprietary” ABC system to board now roughly 10 pax at a time, still following the ABC priorities.  For some reason unbeknownst to me, WN had two flights departing almost at the same time from my gate (C49) and the adjacent gate.  Both of these gates seemed to be in a far corner of the terminal and felt smaller and more closed-in than almost any other gate in that terminal.  Compounding the problem, gate agents for both flights did a suboptimal job of getting people to stand back away from the gate (probably because they still had the “line up posts” and people were trying to find their place in the order.   My flight was about 2/3 full (I did have a middle seat open next to me), but the crowding that took place in the boarding area — 15+ minutes of many people bunched up against each other, most not wearing masks — was the most uncomfortable I have felt since the start of the pandemic.    Fortunately, I tested negative for COVID-19 5 days later.

Today’s flights BOS-DEN and DEN-LAX were much better.    Only about 50% full on the first leg and maybe 2/3 full DEN to LAX.  But the boarding process was great The gate agent in DEN did a superb job of clearly articulating how it would all go down, and remained calm and orderly.  People had plenty of room to remain seated until their “decade” was called.   Onboard, I actually have the whole row 27ABC to myself.    They are serving a can of water and a bag of pretzel salty snacks (StarK dairy).

June 2020?
DW has been reluctant to fly out to see me. There are lots of reasons, but one of them is definitely her skittishness about flying and the risk she perceived of contracting coronavirus.   I think her reluctance may be waning, and as B6 begins to add back nonstop flights between BOS and LAX, I think she will give it a try.   I’m scheduled to fly again in a few weeks.   Curently I’m booked on the B6 Thursday night red-eye and then the B6 Sunday afternoon return to LA.   Here’s hoping B6 doesn’t decide to cancel those flights....


Hope this is helpful to someone.

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: COVID-19 Travel between Boston and Los Angeles
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2020, 12:59:28 AM »
With thanks to everyone who has helped me along the way, notably @yehoshua and @yehudaa, and @dan, of course. 
 
I started a new job in Los Angeles in mid-February.   Our family plan was/is for DW to stay with DD in Boston through June 2021, to allow the latter to finish high school.  We figured that I would fly back to our Boston home for Shabbat about twice a month, and DW would visit me maybe once a month.  As you have probably surmised, COVID-19 has thrown a big wrench into those plans.   As I fly back from Boston to LA this afternoon, I thought I would share some of my travel experiences over the past few months. 

March 2020
I flew three times in March.  Each time was weird and surreal.  The airports were virtually empty.  The freeways were empty.  Congestion in the roadways of LAX? Nada.  Lines at TSA screening? Walk right up to the desk—no waiting whatsoever.    I flew exclusively JetBlue in March, and almost every flight was virtually empty.   As I recall, when I flew B6 BOS-BUR on March 1, the flight was actually full —not even an empty middle seat.  But after that, the flights were gloriously empty.  When I flew Eastbound, I enjoyed “ghetto lie flat” each time.    Sadly, drinks and snack service went away very quickly, but since I was focused on sleeping (at least Eastbound), I didn’t care.   Toward the end of March, flight cancellations began to occur, and I found myself scrambling to fly in the time slot that I wanted.  I ended up flying through LAX, LGB, and BUR, depending on the flight schedule.   

April 2020.
The main reason why I flew three times in March was that our observations projected that the pandemic in Los Angeles would peak in early April, and I anticipated that my work (health care) might require me to stay put.  As I returned to LA on March 29, I remained hopeful that perhaps the crisis would abate and I would be able to get home for either the front end or the back end of Pesach.   Alas, work remained intense, so I didn’t get a chance to fly back to Boston until April 23. The flight and airport experience was similar to my March travel....Although I was worried about getting infected, the risk actually felt pretty low, as I was able to stay very physically distant from others.  Plus, I was wiping everything with Clorox wipes and using Purell liberally, though I wasn’t yet wearing a mask. 

May 2020
By mid-late April, airlines had started to cancel their flights.  The changes hit me pretty hard, as AA, UA, and B6 all dropped their Eastbound red-eye flights.  B6 used to fly red eye to BOS from both LAX and LGB, and initially they consolidated to one flight, but by early May, even that was gone.   Back in January, when I took the new job in LA, the plan was that I would fly Thursday night back to Boston and work from home on Fridays. That plan worked out well in the beginning, but with the abolition of the nonstop red eye, I had to resort to improvised schedules.    AA offers a midnight flight to PHL (and one to CLT), but the connecting flight doesn’t get into BOS until late morning.    I’m pretty sure B6 previously did offer a late night flight LAX-JFK with a connection to BOS, but AFAIK, that’s gone for now.   When I flew in early May, I put together my own red-eye itinerary: LAX-PHX on AA, with a 2-hour layover in PHX, then PHX-BOS on B6.   It was a pretty good flight and got into BOS around 7am.  As far as I can tell, it’s currently the only way to fly Eastbound red eye and get to Boston before 0800.   If someone else can figure out another option, please do share!  This week, before Shavuot, I did the AA LAX-PHL-BOS flight, which got into BOS around 10am.  It wasn’t terrible, timing wise, but sadly the flight was pretty full.  I suppose I should be grateful that I had a  window seat and that there was an open  middle seat next to me, but sleeping upright is very, very tough for me, even medicated.    The glory days of ghetto lie flat seem to be over, at least for now.

The return flights from BOS to LA have been similarly decimated.  When I first started this commute, B6 offered both the late evening flight (leave BOS after 9pm, get into LA after 1pm) and the afternoon flight (5pm-9pm).  I quickly realized the latter better suited my sleep and work patterns and still allowed me to have most of the Sunday with family in Boston.   But the point really was moot, because there is now only one daily nonstop flight BOS-LAX, and that flight departs at 0800.  That’s  just not a good fit for me — I need at least half the day to enjoy in Boston.  So, I have resorted to connecting flights departing mid-late afternoon.  I’ve flown United through Chicago to LA, but I think that option is gone.  I flew AA through Chicago (I think).  And the last two trips, I’ve flown WN via DEN.   

When I flew DEN-LAX the first week of May, the boarding process was a hot mess.   WN has modified their “proprietary” ABC system to board now roughly 10 pax at a time, still following the ABC priorities.  For some reason unbeknownst to me, WN had two flights departing almost at the same time from my gate (C49) and the adjacent gate.  Both of these gates seemed to be in a far corner of the terminal and felt smaller and more closed-in than almost any other gate in that terminal.  Compounding the problem, gate agents for both flights did a suboptimal job of getting people to stand back away from the gate (probably because they still had the “line up posts” and people were trying to find their place in the order.   My flight was about 2/3 full (I did have a middle seat open next to me), but the crowding that took place in the boarding area — 15+ minutes of many people bunched up against each other, most not wearing masks — was the most uncomfortable I have felt since the start of the pandemic.    Fortunately, I tested negative for COVID-19 5 days later.

Today’s flights BOS-DEN and DEN-LAX were much better.    Only about 50% full on the first leg and maybe 2/3 full DEN to LAX.  But the boarding process was great The gate agent in DEN did a superb job of clearly articulating how it would all go down, and remained calm and orderly.  People had plenty of room to remain seated until their “decade” was called.   Onboard, I actually have the whole row 27ABC to myself.    They are serving a can of water and a bag of pretzel salty snacks (StarK dairy).

June 2020?
DW has been reluctant to fly out to see me. There are lots of reasons, but one of them is definitely her skittishness about flying and the risk she perceived of contracting coronavirus.   I think her reluctance may be waning, and as B6 begins to add back nonstop flights between BOS and LAX, I think she will give it a try.   I’m scheduled to fly again in a few weeks.   Curently I’m booked on the B6 Thursday night red-eye and then the B6 Sunday afternoon return to LA.   Here’s hoping B6 doesn’t decide to cancel those flights....


Hope this is helpful to someone.
Wow! That's intense. Missing Pesach with your family in particular, but also all the rough flight schedules and availability. Good luck! I hope it works out better.

Offline zow

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Re: COVID-19 Travel between Boston and Los Angeles
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2020, 01:19:57 AM »
Wow! That's intense. Missing Pesach with your family in particular, but also all the rough flight schedules and availability. Good luck! I hope it works out better.
Thank you. Yes.  It was tough, but everyone has been suffering one way or another, so I really can’t complain.

Offline SSLPhD

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Re: COVID-19 Travel between Boston and Los Angeles
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2020, 05:57:35 AM »
You've mentioned before that you were a physician, and you're one of the regulars that I've noticed was missing.  Glad to hear that was due to a cross-country move, not anything worse, although sorry it's been as challenging as it has.
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Offline zow

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Re: COVID-19 Travel between Boston and Los Angeles
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2020, 12:27:10 PM »
You've mentioned before that you were a physician, and you're one of the regulars that I've noticed was missing.  Glad to hear that was due to a cross-country move, not anything worse, although sorry it's been as challenging as it has.

Thanks for that.
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Offline Dan

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Re: COVID-19 Travel between Boston and Los Angeles
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2020, 02:09:58 PM »
Wow, what a wild ride!
Save your time, I don't answer PM. Post it in the forum and a dedicated DDF'er will get back to you as soon as possible.