France, Paris, 18 May 2020
I had already had the opportunity to fly in exceptional circumstances. It was just after September 11, 2001, as soon as the flight authorizations resumed: a deserted terminal, very few planes and a large number of law enforcement officers at the arrival in the US.
Today’s experience is even more surreal, astounding. There is simply no one around.
It takes 15 minutes to get to CDG by taxi on a car-free highway. A deserted Terminal, empty, without any noise or announcement, without light.
The recording takes only few minutes in a whisper. I am alone to pass through security in this immense, oversized space, alone. I pick up my bags and walk through the maze of Duty Free stores, all firm.
And I even forget to take photographs because I am so stunned by this silence of death and this absence of life.
Arriving at the boarding gate, I meet some rare passengers, 5 or 6, lost in this place that normally swarms with people. A man in a white protective suit is waiting for his flight as if he were in a science fiction movie. New reality?
Arrives the moment of boarding with a mandatory temperature reading to get on the plane. 10 hours of flight await me, wearing the mask permanently. A stewardess tells me about her astonishment. In 25 years she had never seen anything like it. Indeed…We are 20 passengers in a Boeing 777 with 17 crew members: Sideration, the word is weak.
The same thing happens when we arrive at LAX, this airport-city, where planes land and take off without interruption in an incredible ballet, this airport that is always saturated, with Dantesque tails at immigration or customs, and traffic jams that drive us crazy…. LAX is empty, at a standstill.
Taking of temperature at the exit of the plane, then in this same silence, lightning passage by the immigration where only one officer is present whereas in normal time they are a hundred… Same for the customs.
Without even realizing it, I have already left the Phantom Terminal.
No crowds waiting for passengers. No police to regulate the traffic jams. No announcements. No shuttle bus, no taxi or Uber. Just silence…
A friend who came to pick me up is quietly waiting for me in his car… I can’t miss him, he’s the only one there.
All I can think about now is running away from this place. Leave quickly!
Running away to find some life somewhere!