Flying these days can be a true nightmare of packed airplanes, long delays and added fees. But Tuesday, my United 822 flight from Mexico City to Washington was virtually empty. The flight was carrying 15 passengers.
It was clear at the airport that not many would be on the plane.
A handful of employees were mingling at the United counter in Mexico City when I got there. There were no passengers in sight.
I filled out a "health" card that asked for my name, age, address and if I was feeling any if these symptoms: headache, scratchy throat, nausea, fever, itchy eyes, etc. I checked "No" throughout.
Then I was asked to stand in front of what looked like a video camera. The gadget scanned me -- a big monitor was flashing my silhouette in whites and grays. Authorities were looking for red spots that would indicate a feverish system.
Fortunately, I'm healthy.
And, I'm lucky too. After spending a week reporting from Mexico I not only could go home, but I could pick where to sit on the plane (though first class was off limits).
I was assigned 16A -- a window seat, but I moved up to 9A in the "economy plus" section. One of the flight attendants told me that when he found out last week that he was on duty this month to fly to Mexico City he got a little bit concerned. He called his mother. Her advice: "Don't worry, just wash your hands constantly, it's the flu."
One other bit of luck: The nice flight attendant didn't let me pay for my turkey sandwich. He said my lunch was courtesy of United.