Flights are cheap right, so now is a good time to travel if you’re on a budget. However, there are a higher quantity of flights with layovers and departure times change frequently. Almost every flight I have had this year has had the departing times change. The round trip I went on in May had both flights change so much that I rescheduled my flights. The return flight had me landing back home at 10pm when I needed to go to work at 7am the next day, and the departing flight had a long layover. I The new flights costed an additional $50, but I used travel points from my Discover Miles card for that.
For U.S. domestic travel, an online form needs to be filled out verifying where you’re traveling to and requires that you answer covid-related questions. International flights require more than an online form, and what’s required depends on the destination. For example, I needed a negative covid test despite being fully vaccinated for my trip to Turks and Caicos.
The airports have the same boarding process, but security lines are noticeably shorter and masks are required. When IDs are checked at security, the person asks that you to lower your mask in order to verify that the picture on the ID matches the person standing in front of them. The airport in Turks and Caicos had an additional temperature scanner in the security line. The scanner was on a tablet, and the temperature was automatically taken once a face was aligned correctly.
Gate changes in the airport have happened with every single flight I’ve taken in 2021. For the most part, the gate changes are at gates very close by. I once watched the overhead screens in LAX ping pong back and forth my flight to Houston at gates 24A and 24C during my 30 minute wait for boarding to start.
I did have one very stressful experience with my international flight out of DFW to Turks and Caicos. The airline app kept changing gates the night before, and when I arrived at the airport the app said I was departing out of Terminal A. However, my boarding pass said I was departing out of Terminal C. Trusting what was printed on the pass, I waited at the gate in Terminal C. Not paying attention to the time, I realized 20 minutes before boarding was supposed to end, there was no airplane at my gate. I opened the app and it said the gate is at Terminal A. I rushed over to Terminal A on the Skyline, and found out that the app still wasn’t listing the correct gate. The app was showing the departing gate was 28, but the people there were boarding for Cancun. Then suddenly on the overhead speakers, I heard my name called and that they were waiting for me at gate 14. Obviously I ran. They closed the plane doors as soon as I got in my seat.
I have more flights planned for this year, so I will provide an update on the frequency of gate changes. But let my experience be a warning: pay attention to your boarding times and make sure your airline app is sending notifications when there is a gate change.
The flight experience is the mostly the same. The difference is that everyone is wearing masks and magazines aren’t available for leisure reading. I had only one domestic flight offer a single magazine and that was American Airlines and it was their travel magazine.
The process of going through customs in the U.S. is the same as it’s always been.