How I Roll: TPG Senior Aviation Business Reporter Edward Russell
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
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 Senior Aviation Business Reporter Edward Russell a shortlist of questions about how he travels during the pandemic, covering everything from how he preps for a trip to what he wears on the plane. Here’s what he had to say. Safe travels!
TPG: What is the last flight you caught?
NR: I flew to Chicago and back for a piece on United Airlines at the end of October.
TPG: Was the trip for business or pleasure?
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?
NR: I traveled alone.
TPG: Did you plan this trip pre-pandemic, or were these new travel plans?
NR: New travel plans.
TPG: What’s a trip you’re hoping to take in the future, that’s been put on hold?
NR: Visiting family in Colorado.
TPG: What does your pre-travel to-do list entail?
NR: I try to pack my bag the night before even for a short trip like this one so that I can get up and roll early in the morning.
TPG: Are you purchasing any additional supplies, masks or protective gear for the trip?
NR: I didn’t purchase any additional supplies but did bring several masks for the trip.
TPG: Are you getting a COVID test? If so, what kind?
NR: I did get a COVID test before I flew, I believe it was the standard PCR nasal test.
TPG: What items are you packing to protect yourself from coronavirus?
NR: Masks, lots of masks.
TPG: Is there anything you are leaving at home that you would normally take?
TPG: What are your carry-on essentials?
NR: My laptop, iPhone, headphones for music, and either my kindle or a book.
TPG: What’s your go-to travel outfit, and has it changed at all during the pandemic?
NR: A button-down and jeans, and it hasn’t changed during the pandemic.
TPG: Are you getting to the airport early or with just enough time to spare?
NR: A little bit earlier than I normally would to allow for any extra time at security. Though when I flew I noticed it really wasn’t needed as queues were short and the United Club at Washington National was closed.
TPG: How do you normally prefer to kill any extra time at the airport?
NR: Either go to the lounge or walk around.
TPG: Has that changed at all?
NR: Yes, if the lounge is closed I just wait at the gate.
TPG: What is your airport food strategy?
NR: I like to buy food from local restaurants if I can. Unfortunately, my favorite local Chicago place — Frontera — is temporarily closed in Concourse B at O’Hare. I also pack snacks for the flight and always bring a water bottle.
TPG: What differences have you noticed at the airport since the pandemic began?
NR: A lot of restaurants are closed, especially the local ones I like to visit when I travel. Things are quieter with fewer travelers.
TPG: What is your strategy for choosing your seat on the plane?
NR: I like window seats for short flights, typically under two hours, and aisles for longer flights.
TPG: Were you able to work or relax during the flight?
NR: Work most of the time. Though on the return we had a weather delay and I read a bit while we waited.
TPG: Do you eat or drink on the plane? Has that changed in any way?
NR: I do. It’s changed in the sense that I don’t savor it — more like quickly pull down the mask, take a bite or sip, and then replace my mask.
TPG: Have you noticed any changes in in-flight service?
NR: Yes, less service and coffee only on select flights. That said, United gives each traveler a disinfectant wipe when they board. I thought that was a nice touch.
TPG: Overall, did you still enjoy traveling during the pandemic?
NR: Yes, I do enjoy the journey. Though I have concerns about destinations.
TPG: How much traveling have you done since the pandemic began?
NR: Three flights, including the day-trip to and from Chicago.
TPG: Any travel pearls of wisdom or hacks for flying right now?
NR: Just be sure to wear a mask and be mindful of others. It’s easy to forget how far six feet is as well as begin to crowd fellow travelers in the jetway and waiting to deplane.
Also, leave your expectations of service at home before you go. Airline employees are working the front lines and doing their best to keep everyone safe. And that means service — like food and beverage onboard the plane — isn’t everything we’re used to from before COVID.
Are you Team Ask or Not Ask when it comes to fellow travelers who aren’t wearing a mask? Ask if it’s an entire mask, not ask if it’s just below the nose (but move away if I can).
Latex gloves — yay or nay? Nay.
Favorite hand sanitizer brand? Compass Coffee made here in D.C.!
Favorite pandemic travel gear innovation? Not sure yet, I think there are many pandemic travel gear innovations to come.
All images by Edward Russell/TPG.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees