Traveling during COVID-19 to Oaxaca, Mexico
Bag packed; have a passport—will travel. I hit the airport this week during COVID-19. My first stop: San Jose del Cabo, Mexico. Data on air travel passed my bar, sanitation techniques in place, air filtering efficiency, social distancing, and masking required. COVID-19 rates spiking in the US—time to hit the road.
There are many countries with no COVID-19 requirements that will accept U.S. citizens (Turkey, Brazil, Honduras, and more) plus a shortlist that will accept US citizens with a 14-day quarantine and/or a negative COVID-19 test within 48-72 hours of departure.
Mexico (my destination) is welcoming travelers and requires neither a quarantine nor a negative COVID-19 test. I still tested and verified negative results within 48 hours of departure.
Travelers at the Tucson airport were relatively sparse, although the flight from Tucson to Houston was near full capacity. Most everyone wore a mask and was respectful. However, some took their masks off once they had boarded.
Social distancing was easy in the US airports (Tucson and Houston) as there are so few travelers. Restrooms are in and out, touch-free; it’s all automated.
Flight from Houston to San Jose del Cabo, Mexico was at 15% capacity.
They invited me to move to first class, which was at full capacity.
I graciously declined and enjoyed stretching out in the economy where there were hardly any passengers.
Boarding occurred by rows starting with the rear of the plane. Both flights handed out sanitation wipes on entry to the cabin and small snack packs with water, pretzels, cookie, and a wipe in an enclosed plastic bag.
I wiped down all touchable surfaces once seated.
I did not use the restrooms on board and chose not to eat or drink to keep my mask in place the entire flight.
They deplaned us by rows—much more civil and orderly. You remain seated until they call your row number.
Mexico requires a written form with a checklist of questions regarding possible exposure to COVID-19, phone number, and address of residence in Mexico. I cleared immigration in Mexico in about 10 mins—no lines, no problemo. Transport was waiting which required hand sanitization and masks.
One week later, my flights from the Baha to Oaxaca were a bit more challenging. The small airport in San Jose del Cabo was busy during the day with many departing flights. Then my flight was delayed for four hours. To avoid crowded seated areas, I stood near a deserted corner for most of the waiting period.
I missed my connection to Oaxaca and spent the night in Mexico City in an airport hotel, courtesy of AeroMéxico. However, the stress of being in a crowded Mexico City airport, then shuttling to and from the hotel, and going through security again was disconcerting. AeroMéxico used the same boarding procedures.
The bottom line – Not dealing with the masses, crowding, lines, impatient travelers, packed planes, stuffed overhead bins, plus conversing with respectful and grateful employees (yes, the travel industry is desperate for travelers) made for an easy and enjoyable experience the first two legs of the trip.
The next two legs, where all didn’t go as planned, were more stressful. But I completed the trip in good spirits and unscathed. Out of respect, I laid low in Oaxaca for two weeks upon arrival to confirm my health status.
by: Gwen Hyatt