How I Roll: TPG Senior Credit Cards Editor Benét Wilson

Oct 24, 2020

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Welcome to a special COVID edition of How I Roll, an airport routine series with a focus on health and safety while traveling. Today, we’re asking TPG travel expert and Senior Credit Cards Editor Benét Wilson a shortlist of questions about how she travels during the pandemic, covering everything from how she preps for a trip to what she wears on the plane. Here’s what she had to say. Safe travels!

The itinerary:

TPG: What is the last flight you caught?

BW: San Antonio to Baltimore on my beloved Southwest Airlines.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

My @southwestair @boeing #737 jets in formation at @bwi_airport. #nofilter #avgeek #airline #travel #letsgo

A post shared by Benét (@aviationqueen) on

TPG: Was the trip for business or pleasure?

BW: Pleasure. I was coming home after sheltering in place for four months with my family.

TPG: With whom were you traveling? If you had a travel companion, what conversions did you have to align on safety precautions? Did you need to reassure them?

BW: It was just me.

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TPG: Did you plan this trip pre-pandemic, or were these new travel plans?

BW: New travel plans.

TPG: What’s a trip you’re hoping to take in the future, that’s been put on hold?

BW: I was planning a trip to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in October. It’s been replaced with a trip to Cancun. I’m looking at spring trips to the Caribbean and Dubai.

Related: A country-by-country guide to Caribbean reopenings

Pre-departure prep:

TPG: What does your pre-travel to-do list entail?

BW: I don’t check bags, so I plan my wardrobe carefully. I download books and movies on my iPad just in case inflight Wi-Fi doesn’t work.

Related: Face shields and sanitizer: 5 things we’re packing for flights during the pandemic

TPG: Are you getting a COVID test? If so, what kind?

BW: Yes, the rapid test. I’ll also take a test when I get home.

Packing strategy:

TPG: What items are you packing to protect yourself from coronavirus?

BW: I’ve always traveled with wipes and hand sanitizers (and small treats for the flight attendant crew.) I have a face shield and fly with an N95 mask to be extra safe.

TPG: Is there anything you are leaving at home that you would normally take?

BW: No.

TPG: What are your carry-on essentials?

BW: Along with my iPad and iPhone, an extra charger (Southwest doesn’t have outlets).

TPG: What’s your go-to travel outfit, and has it changed at all during the pandemic?

BW: Black jeans, a t-shirt or blouse and a sweater or blazer. Soda slip-on shoes.

Before boarding:

TPG: Are you getting to the airport early or with just enough time to spare?

BW: Early. I like to wander and see what’s new.

TPG: Has that changed at all?

BW: No. It’s actually increased since there have been so many pandemic-related changes at airports.

TPG: How do you normally prefer to kill any extra time at the airport?

BW: Just walking around and snapping photos for my #avgeek Flickr account.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Thanks for the ride, @southwestair! It was wonderful. And the crew? Top notch, as usual. I missed you all! ❤️ #travel #paced #letsgo

A post shared by Benét (@aviationqueen) on

TPG: What is your airport food strategy?

BW: I bring my own food. Smoked salmon from Baltimore’s Neopol Smokery, crackers and a wedge of brie cheese. I fill my Swill water bottle after security.

TPG: What differences have you noticed at the airport since the pandemic began?

BW: How eerily empty they are. Most concessions are closed. TSA is a breeze to get through.

Inflight routine:

TPG: What is your strategy for choosing your seat on the plane?

BW: I’m strictly an aisle girl. I like sitting close to the front of the plane.

Related: 7 tips for picking the perfect airplane seat every time

TPG: Were you able to work or relax during the flight?

BW: Yes. I make it a point to watch a movie or read a book. NO WORK!!!

TPG: Do you eat or drink on the plane? Has that changed in any way?

BW: Yes (see above). No, that hasn’t changed except for the water bottle.

TPG: Have you noticed any changes in in-flight service?

BW: No alcohol is served on Southwest right now. We do get a small snack and bottled water.

Everything else:

TPG: Overall, did you still enjoy traveling during the pandemic?

BW: Yes. I love to travel, even now.

TPG: Any travel pearls of wisdom or hacks for flying right now?

BW: Be prepared. Have your mask, hand sanitizer and wipes. Bring your own food, especially for longer flights. Be nice to the airline crews. They’re working hard under extraordinary circumstances.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

It’s been *184* days since I’ve been on a plane. The streak ends TODAY, on @southwestair!! #travel #letsgo #airline

A post shared by Benét (@aviationqueen) on

Rapid-fire questions:

Are you Team Ask or Not Ask when it comes to fellow travelers who aren’t wearing a mask? Team Ask. We’re trapped in a metal tube circulating air.

Airline blanket & pillow — take ’em or leave ’em? Leave ‘em. I know too much after working for two airlines.

Latex gloves — yay or nay? Nay.

Favorite hand sanitizer brand? Bath and Body Works Eucalyptus Stress Relief.

Favorite mask brand? I make my own, although I also love my TPG and Southwest Airlines mask.

Favorite pandemic travel gear innovation? Face shields. (Hat tip to Summer Hull!)

Feature image by Edward Russell/TPG.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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