Local | Seniors

Senior gets airport to take steps to fly right

Barbara Russek

With great trepidation I headed to the Tucson International Airport on June 8. Several friends had told me they would not even set foot on a plane during the COVID-19 crisis and here I was going forward on a trip that would take me through three different airports within just a few hours.

Decked out in my finest personal protective equipment regalia (long-sleeved turtleneck and pants, plus mask, face shield, hat, gloves, and paper booties over my shoes), I must have looked like a resident of a yet undiscovered planet. Oh well, an ounce of prevention …

Franklin Delano Roosevelt is famous for stating, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” I could relate to those immortal words as I entered the airport about to march into battle — this one against an invisible enemy. I was relieved to see that TIA had worked hard to put into place safety measures such as taking my temperature when I passed through security and having every other seat in waiting areas by the gates x-ed out with tape for social distancing.

Although the plane was three-quarters full, thankfully nobody was sitting next to me. I stretched my legs, settled in and began to feel that everything would be OK … or would it?

At the next airport, a busy one with much more foot traffic, fewer safety measures were in place. Quite a few travelers were not wearing masks and no official from the airport was questioning why. Seats were not taped for social distancing and hungry diners were clumped up in queues at airport eateries.

The following day, having arrived safely at my destination, I decided to make a call to the busy airport and see what I could accomplish.

“Susan,” the airport customer service representative, was most sympathetic to my concerns. She promised to not only look into airport COVID-19 safety procedures but to call me back in two weeks. And that is exactly what she did. I was pleased to hear that several safety measures had been implemented since our conversation of June 9. Free masks are now available at airport information counters in addition to being for sale at various shops in the terminal.

Also, officials are dispatched to any area where folks are not wearing masks to see what the issue is and to educate.

I learned that big stickers have been placed on the ground, distancing those who wish to purchase food, and managers at airport restaurants are diligent about spacing diners apart. That news was heartening.

During this difficult time, many seniors are understandably restless, with little to do after the kids have been called and the cupboards cleaned. But this senior discovered that oftentimes all that’s needed to make a difference even while social distancing is one person, a cause, and a phone.

Barbara Russek, a freelance writer, welcomes comments at Babette2@comcast.net.