My husband and I love to travel. Along with everyone else, the pandemic shattered our wanderlust dreams. Last month, the CDC announced that travel is low-risk as long as travelers mask up on the plane and follow safe practices at their destinations. Being fully vaccinated, we spontaneously booked a trip to Palm Springs, Calif., a destination we selected due to its low COVID-19 numbers.

Our experiences at all three airports — Philadelphia, Denver, and Palm Springs — turned out to be vastly different. It made me wish that President Joe Biden’s executive order for vaccine passports had been fully enacted. I would’ve felt safer, knowing that everyone on our flights had been inoculated against and/or tested negative for COVID-19.

Our experience at Philadelphia International Airport began splendidly, with nobody at check-in and virtually no line at TSA. So far, so good. The airport was quiet and easy to navigate.

Boarding the plane in Philadelphia, we were still feeling optimistic. A crew member greeted us by distributing a disinfectant wipe to supplement the airline’s cleaning measures. We turned on the air control as we had read about the HEPA filters being very efficient in replacing cabin air and capturing particles. The captain and crew made multiple announcements reminding us to wear masks (and offering one if need be), stressing to cover noses and mouths and to remask in between bites and sips.

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From what I could see, about 20% of passengers on this flight did not comply with the mask mandate. One poor crew member resorted to a lengthy discussion with a passenger after reprimanding him twice. The passenger ultimately complied until landing, when he stood in the aisle for 15 minutes, arrogantly without a mask. In lieu of masks, we saw a lot of bandanas and face shields — and lots of noses.

Snack service posed a huge challenge. One might as well be indoor dining as almost everyone removed masks for extended, overlapping periods. Truthfully, I’m not clear why we need three snacks during a three-hour flight. One passenger brought his own multicourse meal and had his mask down for more than 30 minutes as he savored his appetizer, entrée, dessert, and beverage. Personally, my husband and I took the recommended route and declined a beverage to keep masks on.

During a long layover in Denver, we thought we were lucky to have an airline lounge pass. Were we ever wrong! We encountered most — I’d estimate 80% — of the club guests with masks off, enjoying glasses of wine and chatting away on cell phones. There was no designated seating inside the club for people wearing masks.

Palm Springs was tiny, though it at least offered outdoor seating for gates.

Although we were vaccinated, our conclusion about air travel right now is that there is only so much the airlines can do to ensure our safety when so many people disregard the mask rules. Their reasons are likely varied (not knowing the science, hating the inconvenience, or being told how to behave). We will book our next ticket once vaccine passports are required, and for now, we’ll stick to good old driving vacations. Safe travels!

Janice Ford Benner had a 30-year career in the travel field while serving as director of continuing medical education at major academic medical centers, including the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center. She also spent several years consulting and recommending conference destinations globally.