The very last time that I was on an airplane was pre-pandemic on my solo adventure to Colombia (more here). Sitting in an airport, writing to you now, I can’t help but sigh and think to myself — “my, how things have changed.” Unlike my trip to Colombia, my flight this time is short (just to Philadelphia) and my reasons for flying are not to be alone, rather to see relatives.
Destinations aside, wandering through airports has always been fun for me. In particular, I enjoy walking up and down the terminals and popping in and out of the shops (even if I don’t end up buying anything). However, on this trip, the terminals looked a little different. Meandering through Boston Logan’s C Terminal was a bit of a bummer. My hopes for this small terminal were never high, however, I was disappointed to see that many of the restaurants and cafes were closed. Airport retail, like virtually every other industry, was heavily affected by the pandemic, but hopefully the closed storefronts are only temporary!
Landing in Philadelphia was surreal. Boston Logan was near deserted compared to the mass of humanity that moved like a wave through the Philadelphia International Airport. I’ve never been a fan of masks, but—geez—I’m glad that they are still mandatory (at the time of this writing) in Philly.
As a present Bostonian, my trip to Philadelphia was noteworthy because it was my first trip outside of New England since the onset of the pandemic. In Massachusetts, we are no longer required to wear masks indoors in most cases, however, they are still required for public transport. Because of these lax mask rules, I sometimes find myself forgetting to bring a mask with me when I go out. However, in Pennsylvania (at the time of this writing), masks are still required in indoor spaces (although many people at the hotel weren’t too keen to heed this policy).
Another random thing about Pennsylvania is that cars do not have front license plates. In Massachusetts, I have so quickly taken for granted the fact that I can recognize my Uber as it approaches from the info printed on the front license plate. In Philadelphia, I find myself quickly walking past cars and craning my neck to uncover license information that really should be affixed to both sides of the vehicle.
Although I did not come to Philadelphia for vacation, I enjoyed the destination overall. Having been to the area numerous times, I can say that Philadelphia is a mixed bag of nuts. Philadelphia has its problems: racist housing practices (known as “redlining”), disparities in public schooling, high crime rates (at the time of this writing, Philadelphia is only 9% safer than any other U.S. city — geez!), and a poverty rate over 20%. Philadelphia can also be a good place to live (of course!), it has many high-ranking universities like the University of Pennsylvania, a superior medical research center, city parks and bike paths, museums like the Franklin Institute, DIVERSITY, enviable retail centers, eclectic dining and well-connected public transportation (there’s even a train that can take you from the airport to Central Philadelphia).
Overall, it was refreshing to see some place outside of New England even if it was just Philadelphia (can you sense my ambivalence toward the city?).
Additionally — and this is more important—this trip for me was another reminder that the pandemic in the U.S. is not a one-size-fits-all experience. With the growing presence of the delta variant, little trips like mine may once again be a “hard no” in the not-to-distant future (but I surely hope not!). So, taking the nudge from Pennsylvania (and stories of those unfortunate vaccinated individuals who have found themselves with a positive COVID-19 test result), I’ll continue to mask up for the time being.
Wishing you safe, happy, and COVID-FREE travels!