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My Experience Flying from Mexico to the U.S. During the Coronavirus Pandemic

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Word: NerdWallet strongly discourages touring in the close to future whereas the coronavirus continues to unfold. Verify the CDC and State Division web sites for present steering and journey restrictions. Please use the content material of this text solely to assist inform future journey plans.

After two months of dwelling in Mexico as a digital nomad, and regardless of plans to journey to Amsterdam, I now discover myself hunkered down in Miami Seaside, Florida, throughout this coronavirus pandemic.

On this publish, I’ll clarify why I modified my plans, how I booked my last-minute journey, my flight expertise and the way life seems in my new metropolis of shelter-in-place. I can even share tips about how to navigate last-minute journey preparations in case you end up in an analogous state of affairs.

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Why did I depart?

I made a decision to depart Mexico as a result of inside a span of some days, the world state of affairs modified dramatically:

  1. On March 11, 2020, the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention issued a Degree Three advisory for Individuals to “keep away from nonessential journey” to most of Europe.
  2. Then President Donald Trump introduced a 30-day ban on journey from Europe that was scheduled to go into impact on March 13.
  3. Borders between nations had been starting to shut.
  4. Airways had been lowering flights, and I didn’t need to discover myself in a state of affairs the place I’d not give you the option to fly out.
  5. I didn’t really feel that Mexico was taking acceptable social distancing measures.

I had initially deliberate to journey to Amsterdam from Mexico; as soon as the CDC issued the Degree Three warning, I had to cancel the journey. My journey insurance coverage supplier, SafetyWing, doesn’t provide medical protection for coronavirus for those who journey to a rustic with a Degree Three warning.

At first, I believed I’d simply keep in Mexico for an additional month, however as the days glided by I began to see exponential progress in coronavirus instances throughout the world. The pandemic was all the time on the information, throughout social media, and occasions had been getting canceled every day. Mates and acquaintances had been speaking about the lack of jobs, shoppers and income all whereas the inventory market was turning into more and more risky. The severity of the state of affairs turned manifestly obvious.

Whereas many nations started implementing steps to fight the unfold of the virus, I felt uneasy about the lack of social distancing in Mexico and I instantly felt an awesome urge to come again to the U.S. Though I’m from New York Metropolis, I didn’t need to go house as a result of New York had the highest variety of COVID-19 instances in the nation. I made a decision I’d be higher off isolating myself in Miami, the place I’d be solely a two-hour flight from New York if crucial.

Reserving course of

I searched flights from Cancun to Miami and observed that the solely direct flights had been on American Airways. Though there have been nonetheless a number of flights every day, I knew I had to act shortly. President Trump was discussing closing the border with Canada, so I figured a border closure with Mexico wouldn’t be far off. There have been additionally rumors that the State Division would difficulty a Degree 4: Do Not Journey advisory. I felt that if I didn’t depart quickly and flights to Mexico had been suspended, I’d have an extended (if not not possible) journey house.

Regardless of worrying that flights can be costly, I discovered a nonstop flight on American Airways from Cancun to Miami for $79 in primary financial system. I booked the flight by way of the Chase Final Rewards® portal for five,240 Chase Final Rewards® factors. Since I’ve a Chase Sapphire Reserve® card, my factors are price 50% extra when redeemed by means of the Final Rewards® portal.

I knew that my Airbnb rental in Miami can be costlier than my house in Mexico, so I felt additional grateful that I used to be in a position to use Final Rewards® factors to ebook my flight.

For this Airbnb rental, I prioritized a number of facilities:

  • Sturdy Wi-Fi.
  • A espresso machine.
  • A piece desk with an workplace chair, since I deliberate to work from house relatively than from a coworking house.
  • A Netflix account, as a result of I knew I wouldn’t be leaving the home.

After an extended day of emailing backwards and forwards with many Airbnb hosts, I fortunately discovered an house that met my necessities and a number who was prepared to negotiate the value. The host was additionally form sufficient to convey a spare workplace chair to the house for me. My important cause for negotiating the value was as a result of Airbnb shockingly provides over $300 in numerous charges on leases in Miami (however that could be a rant for an additional day).

With my Airbnb secured, I felt prepared for my departure the subsequent day.

Flying expertise

Cancun airport

During my taxi journey to the airport, I learn that the State Division had formally issued a Degree 4: Do Not Journey advisory. I used to be very proud of my resolution to return to the U.S.

I arrived at the airport two hours earlier than my flight to discover that at the beginning look the whole lot appeared regular. There was no line at the ticket counter, and checking my bag and getting my boarding go took about 5 minutes. To my dismay, my boarding go had the dreaded SSSS printed on it, which meant I’d been chosen for added screening at the gate.

I proceeded to safety and observed somebody sporting a face masks and what regarded like a hazmat go well with. Subsequent to him sat a girl additionally in a face masks. This sight was fairly alarming as a result of the coronavirus state of affairs lastly felt actual in Mexico. I requested the agent checking my passport what was occurring, however he didn’t appear to know.

After safety, I went to the Mera Enterprise Lounge, the solely Precedence Go lounge in Terminal 3. At occasions like this, I really feel actually lucky to have the Chase Sapphire Reserve® bank card as a result of it affords a free Precedence Go membership. By going to the lounge, I in all probability saved $30 in food and drinks given how costly airports could be.

» Study extra: How to maximize your Precedence Go Choose membership

Flight and seat selection

After I arrived at the gate, I requested the gate agent if I may change my seat as a result of I used to be assigned seat 34B, which is a center seat in the rear of the aircraft. I used to be given the possibility to buy window seat 10F for $43. That is one in all the greatest seats in financial system as a result of there isn’t any seat in entrance of it (since row 9 has solely two seats). Though I normally roll the cube and hope for a superb seat at boarding, this time I fortunately paid for the improve. Airways are struggling now, and I wished to do my half to assist.

After 10 minutes of extra safety screening due to my SSSS stamp, I used to be executed and boarded the aircraft. I had the complete row to myself, which was nice as a result of I used to be involved about social distancing. The 90-minute flight was reasonably full, comparatively easy and gave us a phenomenal sundown view. Nonetheless, it was bittersweet returning to the U.S. below such critical circumstances.

Miami Airport

Miami Worldwide Airport felt abandoned. I wasn’t certain if this was the norm for Miami at eight p.m. on a Thursday or due to the present state of affairs. Since there was no line at World Entry, immigration was a breeze.

My bag was circling on the belt by the time I arrived at baggage declare. Total, it took about 20 minutes from touchdown to leaving the airport. The fast airport expertise was an enormous aid since lower than every week in the past, enhanced screening delays had resulted in lengthy airport traces.

First morning in Miami

I awakened early and headed to Entire Meals for a grocery run. Though the retailer was full of individuals, everybody was doing their greatest to respect the social distancing norms we’ve come to anticipate. Individuals had been pleasant and sort to each other, and there was a way of group that was good to witness. Total, the retailer was nicely stocked. Nonetheless, I noticed objects like pasta, soup and rice working low by 9 a.m.

I noticed many individuals sporting face masks and rubber gloves, which prompted me to ask just a few customers the place I may discover a masks. One lady mentioned she was a nurse and acquired it from work. One other individual mentioned to attempt Walgreens throughout the road. Sadly, after I arrived, there have been no masks in Walgreens, and the retailer workers mentioned to attempt once more tomorrow as a result of one other supply was coming.

The underside line

Though the variety of coronavirus instances in the U.S. is rising, I’m very proud of my resolution to come again since I felt that Mexico wasn’t taking the proper steps to mitigate coronavirus unfold. Touring throughout this time was unusual; it was eerie seeing airports so empty. I washed my fingers numerous occasions in the lounge, at the airport and as quickly as I arrived at my Airbnb. I additionally washed my hair and laundered the garments I wore on the aircraft. Strolling round Entire Meals and discovering everybody in face masks and gloves illustrated the gravity of the state of affairs. Nonetheless, I’m glad to see individuals taking acceptable precautions right here.

I really feel lucky to have used my Chase Final Rewards® factors to ebook my flight, as a result of saving cash now could be paramount. I’m additionally glad to have discovered an Airbnb that supplied the house workplace setup I used to be looking for so I can successfully apply social distancing. I hope our collective habits to flatten the curve makes a dent in the pandemic’s unfold.

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