Equipped with a bottle of hand sanitizer, some anti-bacterial wipes, and a travel scarf tucked away in my backpack, I headed out on a press trip to Breckenridge and Aurora, CO, on March 3, just as coronavirus hysteria had taken hold of the U.S. Fully aware of all the latest statistics surrounding the virus, I traveled through Newark Liberty International Airport confidently. The number of travelers wearing surgical masks had increased dramatically, but other than that, my journey to Colorado was de rigueur.
Although a dear friend – a nurse – knowing of my upcoming travels, gave me a surgical face mask, I chose not to wear it; the World Health Organization (WHO) advises against it as I am a healthy traveler, not taking care of anyone who is ill.
At the gate, there was a container of anti-bacterial wipes, a popular amenity. Before getting settled in my seat, I wiped the armrests and tray tables with my Wet Wipes.
Once immersed in the Rocky Mountains, crystal blue skies and snow-capped peaks abounding, the virus was a distant memory. What has changed is when meeting someone, a handshake is now replaced with a fist or elbow bump.
My flight from Denver back to Newark was packed. With all three seats occupied in my row, space was at a premium. Midair, I stored my laptop in the pouch in front of me, intending to get back to work after a short break.
A novel I was reading transformed me into another place and time. Before I knew it, we were landing. In the Uber on my way home, I realized with much horror; my laptop was still on the plane! I instructed the driver to take me back to the airport. Running at full speed, I found the lost and found desk only to learn there was nothing they could for me as it was after midnight. I pleaded but had no luck.
I finally got home and didn’t get to bed until after 3 a.m. Worried about my laptop, my sleep was fitful, and when I checked my phone at 6 a.m., there were two voicemails. My laptop was at the lost and found desk! I jumped in my car and headed to the airport.
As the agent handed it over, I was overcome with gratitude. I thought about the members of the cleaning crew who found my laptop and did the right thing. My appreciation for these selfless individuals is unwavering. Plus, they are on the frontlines as this virus spreads, and they clean plane after plane.
I am especially appreciative of the desk agent who helped me Friday night as well as for the help of Alina Ventura and Ingrid Connolley.
I travel to Las Vegas next week and will thank every airline crew member I see. My motto, “Keep calm and travel on.” And yes, I will check my seat pocket before exiting the plane!