Editor’s note: This story was originally filed in May during the spring semester.
(Rock Hill S.C.) — As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many businesses and employees are being affected financially.
The airline industry has been greatly impacted with companies like Delta Airlines having to cut back flights by 70 percent, as well as take other precautions to ensure the safety of their passengers and employees.
Delta flight attendant Dustin Wilson said the airline industry in the U.S. took a number of precautions at the onset of the pandemic.
“First stopping all routes internationally, Then retrieving the people that were still stuck in these countries before they shut down the borders. We were following all CDC guidelines and adjusted to what we needed such as, social distancing,” said Wilson.
Delta flight attendant Sheritta Paige has worked in the airline industry for 10 years.
“From the time we enter the employee lot we have to have the mask on. They take our temperature before we enter onto the employee bus,” said “Page.
“As far as when we enter into the lounge, your mask is to remain on in the lounge area, in the concourse, on the airplane, even to and from the hotel and also in the training centers,” she said. “We are provided gloves as well as masks and Purell wipes and we do pass those out to the passengers.”
The flight attendants also said the airline has also allowed employees to opt out of working during the pandemic.
“The company has offered employees company wide to take a voluntary leave of absence that are unpaid, so you can say like for any reason, whether you have a medical condition or you just don’t feel safe flying or whatever the case may be,” said Lizzy Sawicz, a flight attendant with Delta.
With the decrease in flights and fear of the virus, there has been a decrease in passengers as well.
Sawicz said she first noticed a drastic change in the number of passengers around the beginning of March.
“The last couple of days of February and the first week of March is when I started to notice passengers not wanting anything at all. They didn’t want anything to drink, they didn’t want us to hand them anything…I definitely started to see the general public becoming more fearful,” said Sawicz.
“That is when I noticed the flights were emptying. We would receive our paperwork that would show, on this plane that’s supposed to seat 150 people, there are maybe only 70 people or 60 people and out of those 70 or 60 people, only about 50 or 40 would show up,” said Sawicz.
“The flights are eerie. There’s not much interaction with the flight attendant, flight crew and passengers. We do greet them, but because everybody knows what’s going on most times there’s not much interaction,” said Paige.
However, the flight attendants said they are still working to provide the best possible experience for passengers.
“I love what I do and I love working. I’m a strong worker and I love to see new exciting faces even through the epidemic,” said Wilson
“I wanted to be there to know that my customers were safe and to talk to them. Even go as far as making them happy and put a smile on their face even through these trying times.”