Coronavirus impact: San Francisco airport an 'eerie' ghost town during COVID-19 crisis

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Imagine a busy airport without the sound of planes, where many of those that you do see have not moved for weeks, and where empty buses circle the airport almost by habit, like drones.

This is SFO, COVID-19 style.

As one sign says, "Welcome to San Francisco."

"Stay healthy with six feet of space," warns another, as if that is going to be an issue.

On an average day, SFO sees roughly 150,000 passengers coming and going.

With COVID-19? 4,000.

Those who remain are not very sociable.

"Can you share some details about your flying experience?" we asked one.

"No," said the man who never broke stride.

"Feel like talking?" we asked another.

"No."

If you're one of those people who always felt that crowds when traveling tend to make us feel isolated, this is the opposite, and it feels even more lonely.

Baggage claim resembles purgatory.

No slamming of bags. No pushing or jostling.

It is an existential experience.

"Eerie," said a flight attendant. "It's bad."

And yet, this is what COVID-19 has dealt us; a long, singular moment in which history unfolds with every passing day.

As an optimist, however, I'll take heart from a half-inflated helium balloon we found bouncing on the floor behind a massive and empty check-in counter.

"Welcome," it reads.

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