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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29 Comments On "Why I Canceled My Trip to Florida"
  1. Kenton G Herman|

    Well you are lucky man when family is well to travel do a road trip . As I did to redwoods or visit Crater lake national Park here in my Oregon and if you have a chance go to our high desert and our sand dunes….
    And thank you so much for your travel advice as part of that newly retired with an empty passport I’m set for dreams yet to come.
    Kenton

  2. Mike Altman|

    Love your web site! Good decision on your part not to fly. The reports that I have from FL scare me as well.

  3. Basil|

    Your DAD likes the ponies?.On line web,sights are available for race tracks around the country so he can place a bet or just watch races daily,
    NYRA is one TwinSpires is another.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      He LOVES them but he can’t see or hear well

  4. Marcia Sidwell|

    I was just at ClubMed Sandpiper with my G kids…stop worrying about Florida…thank God we have someplace that is sane!

    It was wonderful…so good to be with family..

  5. Karin|

    Hi, I’ve enjoyed your newsletter for quite some time now! Thank you!
    Just wanted to say I had to fly to Tampa, Florida on April 9. My 89 year old mom lives here and was hospitalized. I was fully vaccinated and it was 3 weeks after my second vaccine. She’s doing better and is back home now, thank goodness!
    Flying on Southwest, I was worried because the first leg of the flight to Austin was completely full. Fortunately the second leg to Tampa had all the middle seats free. Everyone on both planes wore masks though a few men used those gaters. I use Kn94 masks, I clean my immediate area with sanitizing cloths and use hand sanitizer. I try very hard to not touch anything. I did not use the plane restrooms.
    My experience hasn’t been too bad here. At the hospital everyone wore masks and they maintained social distancing. Out in public, there are some (especially younger people) who aren’t wearing masks. I’ve been to the grocery store and pharmacy. We older folks seem to be much more careful and compliant.
    I have to return home to San Diego on Monday. I hope for empty middle seats!
    Thank you again for your very interesting and informative emails. Your children are adorable. Congrats to you and Natalie!

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Thank you for sharing and hope your mom is healthy and you have a smooth trip back to SAN

  6. Kerwin|

    Hey, follow your heart. Yes, travel is still scary as people are just too relaxed.

    I felt like crap after my second shot too and so did my mom. So everyone is different.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Thanks bro. I hope the side effects didn’t last too long

  7. Carole Terwilliger Meyers|

    I hear you. I want to go visit my grandkids in Texas, but am still reluctant to get on a plane and perhaps wind up with one of the new virus variations to deliver to them. My twin granddaughters are especially vulnerable to viruses–a byproduct of their premature birth and related health issues. You made the right decision, though I know it was difficult. I was surprised to read that you were once afraid of flying. Me too. Seriously fearful after a near-miss in the air. But I conquered it as it appears you did, too. Next time we cross paths we’ll have to have a chinwag about that.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Thanks! We sure will

  8. kelbe|

    I started listening to you years ago on the Tech Guy, Always have gotten your newsletter and especially paid attention to your tips when my kids went across the nation away from California to college. One an All American College Pitcher and the other constantly in a performance of some sort and as good parents went to every game & performance. Building a lot of miles. I found it endearing as you started to share your life and kids with us, and I really paid attention as you spoke of your Dad in Florida. Since I do believe I was passing by you, as I, too every 3 weeks checked in with my 91+92 yr old parents in Ft Lauderdale. (pre-covid). They still live in the house we grew up in, My siblings have been sharing the responsibility too. This Covid year has been tricky. Because of those traveling early years, I became Diamond on Delta so when issues came up I had to trust their air-filtering system and I appreciated their spacing even in First and the new Non-Stop LAX-FLL. I am in FLL now and only go out to get supplies. Everyone is masked in the store but I can tell you the difference between West Hollywood, Ca where I live, and here is night and day with CDC protocol. When I go back to LA comparatively it feels like those early days of Covid, very restrictive compared to Ft Lauderdale. Probably good you canceled your flight.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Thanks Kelbe for the kind words and 411. I’m glad I’m not the only one flying coast to coast to see our family every few weeks. All the best

  9. Debra|

    Hi from BC Canada
    I love your story telling and have been depending on your blog for several years. You have also been and continue to be a voice of reason during this time regarding travel.We are lagging behind in our vaccinations due to lack of product. Currently, our province has an essential travel only law in place and we are restricted to a geographical area based on our health region.We will get out of this . So I just wanted to say hi and keep up the good work, there is hope for humanity 😊❤️

  10. Priya Wong|

    Get well Natalie!!!
    Thank you Johnny for all the update.

    Thank God!!!

    Thanks to people who get the Covid vaccine shots, if you don’t, it’s your business, please don’t get us sick!

    God Bless you all!

  11. Terrie Gottstein|

    Thank you for so openly sharing your fears and your decision-making process. Very thoughtful and helpful, as we all try to find our comfort zone among so many unknowns and amidst people who don’t necessarily subscribe to our caution about protecting ourselves and others.

  12. Greg L|

    The travel guy who is afraid to travel. Not much value in that, And the fear is irrational unless the new standard for any activity is zero risk. Of course anyone can choose what is right for them, but travel experts recognize that protocols have made flying safer than ever, Florida safer than ever (no correlation between mask mandates and Covid illness), and destinations/resorts/cruise ships safer than ever. The statistics are undeniable, so I would hope advisers would be looking for ways to travel safely (which never means zero risk) and responsibly, recognizing that kids are at virtually zero risk, rather than reasons not to. We know how to stay home. Covid is serious and requires preparation and attention, but it isn’t the Plague.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Not sure where you’re getting your facts from. Sounds like you listen to Tucker

  13. Cari Eckert|

    I think the media is giving Florida a terrible reputation by showing spring break parties. Stay away from hip beaches, music venues and bars and you will probably find everyone with masks and social distancing. The worst offenders seem to be under 35. I felt very secure over the last 6 months while living there. I just traveled up the east coast via car and found there were mask less people in all states, but most are wearing them and are careful.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Good to hear

  14. Ann|

    I live in Florida. Lots of Covidiots here (led by the governor) and it’s getting worse. Nobody using masks anymore at rest areas (I drive a lot) and even though I am fully vaccinated I am very uncomfortable. Fortunately businesses still require them. You are smart to be cautious.

  15. P|

    Florida here… yeah. 🤦🏼‍♀️

  16. Tom L|

    I’ve been doing a bit of flying in the Covid era — I pet/house sit so have the opportunity to be fairly distanced while staying. I also fly Delta so at least until the end of April have been fairly certain of empty middle seats (and lots of FC upgrades with my top level status).
    Had my second moderna vaccine on Feb 20 and test reactive to Covid which means the vaccine ‘took.’
    Some observations –
    Seattle last September – almost total mask wearing although I didn’t go into the city.
    Miami over T’giving – sitting for a pair of miniature ponies. Lots of people not mask wearing so I spent my time with the ponies and chickens. Grocery was good for distancing but didn’t try eating out at all – either cooked or delivery.
    Dripping Springs (near Austin) – mask compliance in grocery stores was good. Did some outdoor coffee shops and felt safe, but a day at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Park, even though outside, I thought there were too many people, but almost all masked.
    Seattle early April – everyone wore masks indoors and at the dog park I went to with my sit. While walking the dog, people would pull their masks up when passing you. Weather was beautiful so outdoor coffee shops were nice and lots of distancing. Bainbridge Island ferry everyone wore masks even on the outdoor deck in the wind.
    Denver now – everyone wearing masks. Coffeeshops and restaurants are open but I’m staying outdoors.

  17. John Galt|

    My family andI have been all over the country the past year. Totally ignoring the mask-osis afflicting the northeast and lala-land.

    Visited loads of national and state parks – still alive.

    Waiting for the vaccine nazis to relax so we can head across the pond.

  18. eurovicki|

    We are fully vaccinated (February) and booked LAX-MIA on American (thank you for the heads up on a fabulous fare) – but we are going to immediately head north! We plan to keep away from Miami and Orlando – and anywhere that looks like the hip people would want to go.

  19. Richard|

    Thanks for sharing your story. It’s great to hear an honest opinion about how you feel and where you are at. Another good article: https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2021-04-21/covid-19-pandemic-return-normal-life-hard-for-many

  20. Marlin Yoder|

    I hope you can get past your fear, I have flown from Ohio to florida three times last year (the first time was when masks were still to be avoided according to Dr. Fauci), also flew from Ohio to the west coast twice, and had zero fear. Both me and my wife are pretty sure we had covid last fall (just based on symptoms in hindsight), but it wasn’t anytime close to a trip we took, so we didn’t get it from flying. I firmly believe that fear greatly effects your health, so I hope you can past that.

    Also Florida’s covid numbers and California’s numbers aren’t that much different, so I wouldn’t let the media hysteria effect you.

  21. Charlotte Jakobsen|

    Great post Johnny. It’s great how open you are about those feelings that I think many are struggling with currently. I’m actually gonna move back to Norway (from Germany, where I’ve been living for 17 years now) to be closer to my mom for the same reason. I just need to be closer to her right now. Big hug to you and your family, love to Natalie ❤️ Best, Charlotte

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Thank you and all the best to you and your family in Norway.

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