When a great fare was “scored” via American Airlines for an arguably optimistic June trip to Anguilla only to have the island remained closed, a quick decision was made to go anyway. Obviously not to the island, but rather keeping the round trip flights to and from Charlotte. I have found the upside to these travel disruptions is a seemingly greater flexibility and willingness on the part of the airlines (at least AA) to make changes. The original fare included “free” system-wide upgrade awards (meaning flying up front without using miles); that somewhat played a role in the decision.
My curiosity about flying during COVID has been satisfied. Here’s my report: The TSA folks have managed to create a “no touch” procedure. Rather than handing over your ID, they ask you hold it next to your face for comparison, and they remain behind plexiglass. There are distancing signs as well as cleaning crews everywhere. Masks, are of course, required in the terminal. Few food stores were open, but it was a very early flight.
On board the flight, masks are required at all times except if a passenger is eating or drinking. Even though this was a cross-country flight of more than four hours, there was no beverage service although we were able to request drinks after take-off. Snack bags were provided at boarding: a small water bottle, a bag of corn nuts and a wipe. Upon landing, deplaning is like leaving a funeral — stay in your seat until the row in front of you has exited. The directions were somewhat adhered to. All in all, the whole experience was uneventful.
The year 2020 for us has been about visiting new states as opposed to new countries. With this trip, my count is 46 out of 50 (still missing: Maine, Michigan, Mississippi and Alabama), of which I am very proud. Neither the hubby nor I had been to the Carolina’s. Again, it didn’t take long to map out the 11-night itinerary. There’s so much to see, the trip could easily be longer. It is a relief to have “short” drives to the various stops, as opposed to 400-500 miles on average covered daily in the recent road trip.
As for Charlotte, it is immediately apparent why this has become one of America’s best cities in which to reside. The hubby and I seriously considered leaving CA maybe 10 years ago. We took a survey that asks what your priorities are for a city and then tells you what location best suits your criteria. Charlotte was at the top of the list for both of us. When our kids settled in LA for their careers after college, we decided to stay put.
The city is a sprawling metropolis but at the same time is easy to navigate with some beautiful residential areas. Gracious homes on generous lots is very different from what we So Cal dwellers are accustomed to — not to mention how much less the cost is for much more house. Of course there were some delicious food finds; one is depicted in the photos below from Flour Shop. Bank of America headquarters anchors downtown Charlotte along with their beloved Panthers’ stadium, Hornets’ arena and a beautiful new stadium for the AAA baseball affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. My personal favorite — Lowe’s — is likewise based in Charlotte, together with more than a dozen Fortune 1000 companies. Big city opportunities, southern charm and four distinct seasons. All that’s needed is an MLB franchise.
Next stop: Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill — aka The Triangle.