Flying United Airlines During Covid-19 From LaGuardia Airport and back

Why am I flying during a pandemic? It’s late November; the COVID-19 case numbers are spiking, and I’m flying to Fort Lauderdale. Why? I’m burnt out on going into the office every day and need some time to turn the brain off and relax. In all fairness, I was expecting a complete shit show from what the media was describing, i.e., people not wanting to wear masks and pure chaos. Topping it off, I was flying in and out of LaGuardia airport, which to New Yorkers, is the worst airport that you can leave out of to go anywhere at any time. Think Murphy’s law centralized into one location: anything that can go wrong will go wrong at Laguardia Airport! Remember the ducks that took out the airplane? YUP, you guessed it! 

LaGuardia Airport New stores
LaGuardia Airport New stores new Look new everything

Getting in and out of LaGuardia Airport

The first sign that the stars were aligned in my favor was that it took only 25ish minutes to get from Sunset Park, Brooklyn, to LaGuardia Airport. No traffic, I mean none at all! ZERO! You would expect me to get into a massive line at LaGuardia airport, though, wouldn’t you? NOPE! 5 minutes to get through Terminal B. Construction was just finished on the terminal, and it looked great. Plus, no people around.

The biggest issue that I had was finding the American Express Centurion Lounge closed due to COVID. In fact, there were no open lounges at all inside of the airport. Why do I like lounges? FREE FOOD AND ALCOHOL. (One of the many benefits of having a Platinum Amex is that it is still worth it in 2020?)  COVID forced restaurants and most of the lounges to close due to restrictions, unfortunately. Airports were never designed to handle COVID, but since there are far fewer people flying than before, it’s a lot easier. I went on this flight sober for…the first time in a long time. 

Untied Flight to Florida demonstration of how many people per flight

In the sky

I am combining both the flight back and forth to Fort Lauderdale in one segment. Let me say that the staff and overall experience was great, which helps a lot with the anxiety of traveling these days. However, I was still not 100% mentally ready for people after everything that’s been going on. You won’t understand what I’m talking about until you are in a confined space with people you don’t know during a pandemic. United was on point with their boarding process as you no longer board in groups but rather in four-row sections for less congestion.

When they enter, they receive a wipe packet for their use on their seat or hands or whatever they want to sanitize. The staff and ground crew disinfect the plane after each flight, but that touch of letting us do it as well is very nice. It’s purely mental to let the passenger think that everything is cleaner because they did it themselves. As a bonus, the flight back even had pre-made snack packs. 

Untied Airlines COVID Snack Pack
Untied Airlines COVID Snack Pack containing Sanitizing wipes, Water Pretzel and Stroopwafel

My only issue with the flight was that there were no beverage purchases allowed. Don’t freak out, United Airlines had water and Coke products available for free, but I just needed a real drink. There was nothing on the ground or in the air to calm my nerves. There were way too many people in one place. I was not ready for it at all. Did I deal with it? Yes. Was there stress? Yes. Still, Jack Daniels and coke would have made things a lot better. 

Crazy People on the flight

I don’t know if I was lucky or if the media has been blowing things out of proportion * cough* media *cough*, but everyone on my flight followed the rules, did what they were told, and were super chill. I can even say that they were nicer than normal. The only issue was a woman saying she was not told about the NYS COVID traveler Health form. The boarding crew only mentioned it 10 times and said that New State was enforcing it, but k

National Guard COVID Checkpoint in LaGuardia Airport
National Guard Check point to verify that travelers filled out their COVID-19 Travel forms for New York State

You could say her jaw dropped when she saw a squad of National Guard at the gate checking for the online form email. LESSON to my readers: fill out the form before you get on the plane!

Here is the link to the New York State Travel Health Form for those in the back who think New York State is playing.

Is it worth traveling?

Overall the whole process was pretty damn good. I got the break I needed and came back refreshed. Do I recommend it to everyone? Sure. But take it with a grain of salt from someone like me. I’m in construction; we had a 9% fatality rate in 2018. <link> I take on risk my whole life. This isn’t that bad use your head and think for yourself. This is just an opinion of a fat guy from Brooklyn. What do I know?

If you would like to know more about COVID, I highly recommend taking a COVID tracing Course


Spoiler alert!

I didn’t even make it through the first day of not drinking iced coffee at work without paying for it. ”How, though,” you wonder??. As you all should know by now, I want to save money (and save you some too!). That means not wasting it on coffee. It’s a foolish use of funds and benefits no one but the coffee shop (although the caffeine buzz ain’t bad). I struggle to follow through with what I know is best is simple(it’s always simple). Taking a walk out of the office is my coping mechanism with all the stress. Keeping calm, cool, and collected is a requirement of my job. And let’s be fair, allowing yourself to breathe and unwind, even for just a few minutes and at the expense of a few dollars, is an important step in saying sane!. Ten dollars a day to keep me level and employed is a small price to pay, in my opinion.

A few questions 

I have a few questions for you now. First off, what should my punishment be for failing the monthly challenge? “Reward for excellence; consequences for failure” type of thing. Don’t hold back on me; I can take it. Or perhaps you could recommend some of your own saving strategies, one that doesn’t involve coffee? If so, what are they? If there are any that I like, I will do them as a 30 days challenge for myself and write about the experience here!

Should I Get a Covid-19 Tracing Certification

Today’s blog is taking a detour from our usual talk of booze, fine foods, and finance. No, today we’re talking about something a little more daunting: The Pandemic. Place yourself in mid-September 2020. COVID-19 sees an increase worldwide, and people are worried that there will be a second wave. You look online and notice that has a FREE COVID-19 contact tracing certification from John Hopkins University. You wonder if you should take the course. God willing most of you reading this are a few years in the future, and COVID-19 is long forgotten (this still applies to you <insert a current name for crisis>).  This is a reality for the rest of us, so pay attention to what I’m about to write. 

The short answer is Yes.

The short answer is yes: you should take the certification. It’s a free certification, it’s relevant, and should only take a candidate 7 hours. Why is it free? Because the country needs or needed personnel that can trace COVID contacts to limit the spread.  Bloomberg Philanthropies paid-for the course and certification shareability.  

Three Reasons Why

I have already taken and passed the certification. There were three reasons why I took the course, and none of them have to do with philanthropy. (ee don’t get that Bloomberg money). The first and most comforting explanation is that the course goes into reasonably good detail describing how the virus behaves, spreads, and its possible symptoms. As the Old Russian saying goes, “God protects those who protect themselves.” The second is that if shit hits the fan, I have another piece of paper that can make my resume stand out of the pile or even grant me the opportunity to work as a COVID tracer. 

Social Engineering Prevention

The final reason and most relevant in the long term is social engineering prevention: big words that small people use to make their job seem more critical. It’s to prevent scammers from stealing you and your loved one’s private information. How are you supposed to know what COVID tracers are supposed to ask if you are not one of them? How long until some scammer calls you asking for your social security number or, worse, your paren’ st? I AM SICK AND TIRED OF THE CALLS.  Let’s all learn how to spot the scammers, put them on hold on hold for an hour or two, and waste their time like there’s no tomorrow. Knowledge is power! 

To summarize this whole post, get the COVID-19 contact tracing certification from John Hopkins University, there is no downside. Skipping it to drink yourself stupid is not a good reason. Get the certification and then drink…to celebrate, of course.

Reading is Fundamental

Remember your summer reading list from elementary school? Thought you grew out of that shit, right? Well, don’t you know that you’re supposed to keep reading to learn and grow and blah blah blah… I will not give you some horse crap about how you need to read everything under the sun or finish 365 books in a year. I can barely finish one book a month if I’m lucky. I restarted this type of post to force myself to read more and write down what was important to me not to forget it. Hard-drinking doesn’t help with memory, FYI. 

The Little Book That Beats the Market

Sounds stupid,

but hey, it works for me. Hopefully, you will get some information out of it. The first few books that I reviewed, analyzed, and recommend are “The Little Book That Beats the Market ” and “The Big Secret for the Small Investor: A New Route to Long-Term Investment Success” by Joel Greenblatt (I love this last name. That’s why I picked them). Another good one is “The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy by Dr. Thomas J. Stanley. I will read them cover to cover and not just watch a YouTube on them….. some people would do that…. Names shall not be mentioned.

The focus of my reading and writing will mainly be financial or personal finance. I read other material, but you will want to hit your head against a wall if I wrote about networking and technology. Remember, I am not a guru, just some crazy guy with the hopes of collecting some “passive income” and eating a lot of damn good food… The real reason is that I want to prove a point that one can learn something, and maybe make some money along the way cause we all know I’m too pretty to work this hard.

2020 Saving Challenge Stop Wasting Money on Coffee

Ok, who’s ready for Savings Experiment Number two? I’ll be trying to cut back on the amount of iced coffee that I buy at work and home. As it turns out, buying coffee I could get for free from the office or paying even a tenth of the cost for some homebrew is a silly waste of money! 

Iced Coffee From Little Goat DIner Chicago

In my defense,

I  do cherish that daily ten-minute trip to the coffee shop- it allows me to unwind after reading shitty work emails! Do you know how pissed off you get when the contractor changes their schedule for the millionth time this week, and you spent most of yesterday getting everything ready for them? But I digress! “What does Roman’s coffee habit really cost,” you may be asking? Well, at Dunkin Donuts, my regular large iced coffee costs $4.18. Not a lot, right? But I have a habit of drinking 2 (god damn contractors)  in one day, which comes out to $8.36 a day, which over a week is $41.80, and in just a month, that’s $167.20! That’s $2173.60 a year!

Well, now that escalated quickly. 

Two thousand dollars is real money. Let us see how I do in this experiment. But readers, I’m looking to you for your guidance this time. Leave a comment on what you think I should try to unchain myself from coffee servitude. I will not be cutting down on my drinking, so don’t even suggest it!.

It is what it is. Its not what its not