Greetings! Last night, I was booked to fly Los Angeles to Miami on an American Airlines plush lie-flat seat, on a 777-300 aircraft. It was going to be a watershed flight for me since it would have been my first in over a year. Since February 21, 2020 to be exact. That was the last time I flew, on a return trip from Florida to go see my dad.
Prior to the pandemic, I was flying all the time and all over the place and I was going to see my 92-year-old dad on average every three weeks. Although my dad lives in a senior center, he’s in independent living so he’s still on his own for the most part. My sister lives nearby and she checks in on him once or twice a week. My dad loves his kids and loves having visitors so I always try to visit him whenever I can, even if it’s just for a day.
When COVID-19 began, his place went on lockdown so my siblings (I have three) and I couldn’t visit even if we wanted to. His social dining room meals came to a halt as required by law, so his food was delivered to his room. The only thing my dad had were daily walks and FaceTime. He says the latter kept him going because he was able to visit with his grandkids and kids, even if it was only virtually. I knew it meant a lot to him so I called (and still call) him multiple times a day. Sometimes we speak more than a dozen times a day.
My dad and everyone in his senior center got vaccinated back in February and in March, they opened up dining. I just became fully vaccinated (here’s my experience) last week. So, I booked myself a ticket using miles (more on that at the bottom) to go surprise him and had everything set up, including fully-refundable transportation (Blacklane) and lodging. I also emailed my CDC vaccination card to the senior center so I could go in and visit.
But I ended up canceling at the last minute for a number of reasons. The main reason is because my wife had her second dose of the vaccine on Monday and started to feel some side effects. I couldn’t let her take care of two little kids (4.5 years and 20 months) alone. We don’t have help any more since the economy ruined that, and we only really trust one person and she’s not fully vaccinated yet.
Fortunately, Natalie felt fine this morning when she woke but for some, the side effects can last a couple of days (I had none). But that wasn’t the only reason. Others include: Natalie isn’t fully vaccinated yet as she needs to wait two more weeks and I really don’t want to risk bringing the virus home, especially to our kids who obviously aren’t vaccinated at all. Of course, I love my dad but my wife and kids are now my priority and he tells me all the time to take care of them first and not to worry about him. Of course, I worry about all of them.
The other reason is because he lives in Florida and I’ve heard from multiple friends and family that it’s like the wild, wild west over there. It sounds like hardly anyone wears masks and thanks to Spring Break partying, virus mutations are surging. So I’m going to wait at least a couple of weeks to visit until my wife is fully vaccinated and to see how Florida (and California’s) COVID-19 positivity rates are.
I also have to admit, as someone who used to not only be afraid to fly but to leave the house when I was in my late teens, that I wouldn’t be completely honest if I didn’t say another reason is fear. I haven’t been separated from my children in over a year and I know it’s going to be a huge challenge for me to board my first plane and leave them behind. I sometimes have a difficult time leaving them to go to the grocery store. But I know it’s best for everyone so I will confront my fear and anxiety hopefully sooner rather than later.
Good to Know: If you have American Airlines (AA) miles, AA is now flying a ton of 777s between Los Angeles and Miami (as well as Miami and New York) and award space is wide open … and for cheap! You can fly coast to coast for 37,500 miles round-trip, which is cheaper than what it would cost in coach pre-pandemic. And on American 777s, business class are lie-flat seats so you have plenty of space. The other nice thing about booking with miles is that there’s no cancelation fee or penalty. They just redeposit your miles back into your account and refund the taxes to your credit card.
TIP: If you experience separation anxiety (or anxiety of any kind), know you’re not alone – I do, too. If you have any hesitations, be sure to book refundable everything (tickets, lodging, transportation, etc.) so that you can change your plans at the last minute if you need to. And know that we will all get through this. Blue skies ahead!
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