Our first flight in 523 days was an uninteresting 2.5 hour trip from Orlando to New York – JFK on a Delta 737-900. It might have seemed like any other summer trip on this route pre-COVID pandemic if you didn’t look closely. The flight was full. Everyone crowded the gate during the boarding process, which wasn’t helped any by Delta’s new, even more confusing, boarding process. Sitting in the economy section, we received the same soda and Biscoff cookies. The only noticeable difference was that everyone was wearing a mask, except while eating.
I fell right back into my normal routine. I watched the safety video, complete with everyone being masked (and reminding people that they need to take off the mask if they need to inflate your life vest).
I did like that Delta added that you have to wear the mask for the entire flight and if you are not wearing it, they will gently remind you.
As we started our takeoff roll, I put on my Bose noise-canceling headphones and tried to catch some sleep, since I only got two hours of rest the night before.
It worked and I barely woke up in time for the snack cart. After eating my cookies, I went back to sleep until we started our descent. I looked out the window at Manhattan and remembered that it had been way too long since I’d been able to visit.
It wasn’t until we landed that the biggest change happened. Once the flight attendants welcomed us to New York, the entire plane (except for us) broke into spontaneous applause.
I know it’s an oft-used premise that experienced travelers give side-eye to people who clap when the plane lands, but in this case, we were clearly in the minority. Like, everyone was clapping. Everyone.
Sure, there are reasons that people clap after a flight. I understand some and others I still don’t agree with. However, this was a flight to New York from Florida. Probably most of these people were COMING HOME from vacation. On top of that, they probably had to wake up at 4:30 AM to make it to the airport in time for the flight. Is that something worthy of applause?
It did have me thinking that maybe I was wrong. Did the aviation world change that much since I was gone that clapping was now the norm?
Fortunately, for our return flight to Orlando on the same route with Delta, no one clapped when we arrived in Orlando. You’d think the people would be more excited to get to the theme park capital of the world, but nope. Crickets.
I’m curious if anyone else who’s traveling around the country has experienced this on their flights. Did we just hit a one-off flight with a bunch of clappers or is this now a thing. Please tell me it’s not a thing.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary