When You’re Booked On A 5 A.M. Flight, You Do You

In 2017 Delta Air Lines ran a commercial “4 a.m.” that framed themselves as the airline for the corporate worker bees getting up early and dragging themselves out to the airport, to “Hi Ho” from Snow White in the background.

That was what business travel looked like before the pandemic, for the laptop class. They haven’t had to do Monday to Thursday trips in two and a half years. Here’s what 5 a.m. travel looks like now.

Dude in a banana costume on 5am flight from Denver to St. Louis. 🤷‍♀️🍌 pic.twitter.com/OOqcbOBMNX

— Rebecca Zimmerman MSW (@Zim303Rebecca) August 28, 2022

It’s the back half of 2022 and your hotel doesn’t have any coffee before 7 a.m. because of the pandemic. The few shops that are fully staffed at the airport had lines too long to get any. And you’re getting started this early because you know the first flight of the day has the greatest chance of being on time.

Anything that went wrong with the aircraft might have been fixed overnight. Crew haven’t timed out, and there aren’t any earlier flights for the aircraft to knock you back. It’s also the flight where the aircraft is cleanest, since it’s probably at least been vacuumed overnight.

Masks are no longer required on board, but some people wear them. That’s great – I wanted to wear one during flu season before Covid-19 but it seemed too weird. Now it’s acceptable. Your airline probably makes an announcement that masks are optional and to please respect whichever choice other passengers are making.

Airlines are one of the most small-d democratic experiences we have, where people from all walks of life with all kinds of backgrounds, experiences, and emotional baggage (the only kind of baggage the airlines won’t charge for) come together inside of a metal tube. We’re all different in our own way, and it takes a little bit of time after we wake up before we’re ready to conform. If you’re stuck flying at 5 o’clock in the morning, you do you..

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