Molly Choma put her photography skills to the test when she photographed what flying feels like in an age of Covid-19. All pictures: Molly Choma/Instagram.
Molly Choma put her photography skills to the test when she photographed what flying feels like in an age of Covid-19. All pictures: Molly Choma/Instagram.

PICS: Flight attendant's eerie images show the state of flying during Covid-19 pandemic

By Clinton Moodley Time of article published Apr 30, 2020

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While many flight attendants are at home due to certain countries opposing travel bans, some check-in for work as usual. 

One of them is Alaska Airlines flight attendant Molly Choma, who describes herself on her Instagram bio as a “Freelance photographer on assignment”.

Choma put her photography skills to the test when she photographed what flying feels like in an age of Covid-19, a virus that has killed of thousands of people worldwide. 

Choma embarked on a photography mission, which would ultimately showcase the effects of the coronavirus on air travel in 2020. 

The flight attendant posted a series of images on her Instagram page. 

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ORD - SFO. 6 passengers. This has rapidly become our new normal. It’s simultaneously eerie and peaceful be on a plane right now, everyone keeps to themselves and brings everything they need. Every passenger takes pictures of how empty the planes are as soon as they realize they get their own row, own bathroom, own flight attendant, and a whole can of whatever they want. By now I’ve been to most of the quarantined cities feeling like I’ve survived some sort of apocalypse. . . . #theessentials . . . ✈️ #iamalaska #thesecretlifeofvirgins #crewsinaltitude . . . #alaskaairlines #alskaair #crew #crewlife #airlinecrew #airlines #aviation #avgeek #photooftheday #portrait #shotoniphone #instatravel #travelgram #stayhomesavelives #worldofinflight

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"This has rapidly become our new normal. It’s simultaneously eerie and peaceful be on a plane right now, everyone keeps to themselves and brings everything they need," she posted on Instagram alongside a picture of colleague Steven Payne, who looks like he is in deep reflection on an empty flight. 

Choma said there were six passengers on that flight. 

"Every passenger takes pictures of how empty the planes are as soon as they realize they get their own row, own bathroom, own flight attendant, and a whole can of whatever they want. By now I’ve been to most of the quarantined cities feeling like I’ve survived some sort of apocalypse," she posted. (sic) 

Choma's photography does seem eerie, but it showcases what many essential workers like herself go through daily. 

One image shows flight attendant Deb Cilk wearing a brave face as she interacts with a passenger. 

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PDX - SEA. Who is still flying? This is a story from my sweet friend, Deb. “You couldn’t help but notice them as they boarded the nearly empty aircraft. They both looked as though there was years of hard living under those skins, and they were carrying a heavy load between them. They were assigned two seats near the rear of the aircraft. One of them was carrying his acoustic guitar case, trying to navigate the aisle while he also juggled his backpack and other bags. I could see he was struggling a bit, so I offered to carry the guitar case for him, with the stipulation that, if we were delayed, he would serenade us with a live concert. “Only if you like Led Zeppelin!” was his quick response, which brought a smile to my face after his quick wink. They seemed grateful to be able to settle into their seats. These two genuinely likeable brothers were characters - one headed home to Seattle, the other one on his first leg before catching the redeye home to Florida. All of a sudden, they started praising Alaska Airlines and our flight crews. They both had flown into Portland on a moment’s notice to bid their final farewell to their mom, whose health was declining rapidly. With the burden of one of heaviest of deeds in life behind them, it was time for them to head back home. They were grateful to be able to fly. and they praised our crew for all of our love and support. This is why we are still flying.” . . . . . ✈️ #theessentials #iamalaska #thesecretlifeofvirgins . . . . . . #aviation #stayhome #covid19 #selfportrait #portrait #flightattendant #crew #crewlife #avgeeks #photooftheday #instagood #safetyfirst #lulyyang #alaskaair #alaska #postthepeople #photographer #chasinglight #justgoshoot #coronavirus #sonyalpha #sonyalphafemale

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Another shows Choma with her hands gripped to one another. 

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SFO - DCA. 12 passengers. (This is me. 📷: @6milescloser2heaven) My mom and I both do this thing where we rub our hands together when we’re thinking through a problem. I didn’t realize I did it too until a couple of years ago. I don’t have much to say, seems as though this week some dust settled and decisions are being made; some decisions are mine and some decisions are made for me. By this point most people flying are entirely conscious of their decision to fly. Most are in some sort of medical field or tending to their family’s essential needs. The next few post probably won’t have gigantic captions as I’m kind of just waiting to find out the results of all those decisions. Meanwhile I’m doing my best to keep safe and healthy both for myself and those around me . . . . . . ✈️ #theessentials #iamalaska #thesecretlifeofvirgins . . . . . . #aviation #stayhome #covid19 #selfportrait #portrait #flightattendant #crew #crewlife #avgeeks #photooftheday #instagood #safetyfirst #lulyyang #alaskaair #alaska #postthepeople #photographer #chasinglight #justgoshoot #coronavirus #sonyalpha #sonyalphafemale

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She revealed in the caption: "My mom and I both do this thing where we rub our hands together when we’re thinking through a problem. I didn’t realize I did it too until a couple of years ago.

"I don’t have much to say, seems as though this week some dust settled and decisions are being made; some decisions are mine and some decisions are made for me. By this point, most people flying are entirely conscious of their decision to fly. Most are in some sort of medical field or tending to their family’s essential needs."(sic)

Here are the rest of the images:  

All pictures: Molly Choma/Instagram.  

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SFO. My home. I’ve walked through empty airports before but at, like, 2 am after a night of delays. On those days we’d kiss the ground and rush to the hotel just to lay down. Sometimes so tired that I’d fall asleep in my uniform. This photo, however, was at 2pm. This is my crew walking to our cars after a seattle turn. It feels like something is wrong but you didn’t get the memo so you’re searching for the cause of the emptiness. But there is nothing to be seen. No alarm. No emergency in the building. Just you, your crew, the clicks of your heels as your bag squeaks down the empty concourse . . . . ✈️ #theessentials #iamalaska #thesecretlifeofvirgins . . . . . . #aviation #stayhome #covid19 #portrait #flightattendant #crew #crewlife #avgeeks #photooftheday #instagood #safetyfirst #lulyyang #alaskaair #alaska #postthepeople #photographer #chasinglight #justgoshoot #coronavirus #sonyalpha #sonyalphafemale #airlines #sigmaart

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LAS - SEA. 22 passengers. It wasn’t long ago that this was the only mask we were worried about. After this flight, @mallorymarie92 went on to work SEA-KTN with 7 passengers and wrote these beautiful words about her experience: “A lot of people have been wondering why we are still flying, and I would be lying if I were to say I haven’t questioned that a couple of times. Last night I flew from Seattle to Ketchikan. We may have only transported 7 people, but in the cargo we had tons of supplies necessary for this small town to survive. Groceries, medical supplies and normal every day necessities. We are transporting nurses and doctors to where they need to be to help fight this virus. This is a weird time for everyone. The empty planes and airports are eerie. I worry every time I step onto a plane if this could possibly be my last flight before I am furloughed, but we are clinging on to every little bit of hope there is. I’m having more in depth and meaningful conversations with every crew I work with and I’m not taking for granted the fact that I am still able to come to work every day and do what I love to do. Even if that means doing the safety demo for one passenger ♥️ Thanks @mollychoma for documenting this weird time so beautifully for all of us to remember. ♥️ If you’re home, stay home, and wash your damn hands ♥️” . . . . . #theessentials #iamalaska #thesecretlifeofvirgins . . . . #alaskaairlines #aviation #alaskaair #avgeek #postthepeople #portrait #sonyalpha #sonyalphafemale #stayhome #photooftheday #instagood #postthepeople #flight #flightattendant #crew #crewlife #travelgram #id90 #emptyplane #stayingsafe @lulyyangcouture

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DCA - SFO. 9 passengers. I really commend the crews I’ve seen working tirelessly to bring light and humor to the world of inflight. But today I asked my crew to help me create scenes that represent the emotional complexities of flying during the Covid19 crisis. I’ve gotten used to the emptiness visually, but now the feelings of empty hotels, the sounds as you walk through an airport that seem overly emphasized, and the absence of regular scents are contributing to the eerie stillness of it all. . . Sometimes I wonder why the hell we’re still flying. A minute later I’m tearing up with gratitude that I’m able to keep working. Most of the time I keep my distance and then suddenly just want to hug someone. . . I can’t wait to hug someone. . . . . . . #theessentials #iamalaska #thesecretlifeofvirgins . . . . . #alaskaairlines #aviation #alaskaair #avgeek #airplane #portrait #sonyalpha #sonyalphafemale #stayhome #photooftheday #instagood #postthepeople #flight #flightattendant #crew #crewlife #travelgram #covıd19 #emptyplane #stayingsafe

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