With Airlines Slashing Travel Due To Coronavirus, Some Are Still Flying | KERA News

With Airlines Slashing Travel Due To Coronavirus, Some Are Still Flying

Mar 30, 2020

To slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, nations around the world have eliminated or severely restricted travel. In addition, airlines have drastically cut local and global flights. Still, some people are flying. Why?


Dallas Fort-Worth International Airport’s Terminal D looked mostly – but not entirely – deserted last week.

Roughly half the flights out of this airport have been canceled due to travel bans and people too afraid to take off.  Private First Class Mariusz Ferenczak isn’t one of them. He sits with his backpack in the terminal before passing through security to his gate.

“My parents’ concerns were that if I’m travelling like at an airport they were concerned I could get it,” Ferenczak said. “But overall, I’m not too concerned about it just because I feel like stuff like washing my hands and being sanitary is kind of like, it was kind of instilled at book camp, too.  Like always wash our hands, never touch your face, all that kind of stuff.”

The 19-year-old marine was scheduled to post to Japan until COVID-19 made Okinawa off limits. So now, he's on his way back to his new base in California.  Ferenczak was flying through Dallas after visiting home to see his parents. He also visited friends.

“Overall, we were kind of in small groups” Ferenczak said. "We didn’t really go out in huge parties or anything like that so we weren’t really too worried about it."

Rick del Monte, a 65-year-old Dallas resident, flew to Asheville with his wife over spring break to see her 90-year-old parents and her sister. They also saw their nephew, a college kid who continued to party with his friends.

“Even though they were saying they were going to be very careful, every day they would head out and say they were going to kick a soccer ball around, we’re going to do something, whatever,” del Monte said. “They’re not irresponsible kids, but there’s definitely a very different attitude if you are 21, 22,  as opposed to 65 or 90.”

Peter Dawson is 71. The competitive target shooter was returning home to Brisbane, Australia, after rifle and pistol contests here were canceled. He planned to stay longer until Qantas Airlines said it will stop flights at the end of the month.

Peter Dawson is 71. He travelled from Australia to compete in target shooting contests until COVID-19 cut his trip short. He's flying home earlier than planned because Qantas will stop flights in days.
Credit Bill Zeeble / KERA News

“Everyone’s got to get home, you know?" Dawson said. "I mean we’re all being locked down. So when I get home, I’ll be locked down for two weeks. They declared that, I mean within a few days of me leaving, all overseas returnees would be quarantined.” 

Frances Jorge wasn't worried about a quarantine yet when she heads home to Tampa, Florida. The thing is, she’s not sure if it will be by plane.

“They keep canceling flights,” Jorge said. “I was supposed to leave Saturday but they just canceled my flight.” 

Jorge flew here with her husband last week to help their daughter, who just got laid off.

Frances Jorge flew here a few days ago on a nearly empty jet to help her daughter who just got laid off. Now she's trying to get home to Tampa but flights keep getting canceled.
Credit Bill Zeeble / KERA News

“When she did all the interviewing, she did it in Tampa, Florida. Because the position was here ... she came to live here. She was supposed to start training this past week," Jorge said. "They told her she no longer had a job because of all the canceled flights. So now she has to look for another job, but she needed a car.”

Assuming Jorge gets a flight home, she’s not worried about a crowded jet.  Like others we talked to, she said there were enough empty seats to keep a safe distance between passengers.