Not only do I spend a lot of time looking down in the sand or dirt. I also spend a good bit of time looking up. Maybe I can just say… I pay attention to my surroundings!

In addition to the cruise ships spending more time at Miami Anchor, there are far fewer airplanes going by. Generally on a day when winds are from the east, I will see flights from Miami International Airport make a big turn north. I watch them from my desk window and wonder where they’re headed. So far this morning, I have seen only a few.

We know air travel is greatly reduced, but who are the people traveling right now?

I went to the United website and searched for some common flights – Miami to Newark, Miami to Chicago, etc. The following flight to Newark from Miami scheduled for March 27 is nearly full:

Miami to Newark United Airlines flight seat assignments March 27, 2020

And this March 28 flight to Chicago is mostly available and notably reduced in price. This flight to Chicago from Miami is available for as low as $29 USD or a first class ticket for $297 USD – normally close to $600 or more for last minute.

Miami to Chicago United Airlines flight seat assignments March 28, 2020

One article from Politico points to New York snowbirds and the super rich as potential issues for the state of Florida. The article suggests that nearly all flight traffic from New York area is halted, but that’s not exactly true.

Here is a look at the Flightaware Airport Activity for March 27 at 10:30 am Eastern:

Flightaware Airport Traffic Map

And here is a flight you can buy today from Newark to Miami for $65 (economy) or $296 (first class). It’s definitely not empty, so who are the people flying?

Newark to Miami United Airlines flight seat assignments March 27, 2020

One thing that seems clear to me, the people not traveling right now are spring-breakers and cruise-goers. The beaches are closed, by now most hotels are closed and have kicked out or cancelled reservations. Florida tourists have gone home.

So the people left are…the snowbirds.

This is the time of year when I normally secretly celebrate the departure of snowbirds. My prediction is usually that after Easter, the roads are clearer, the beaches less crowded…all because New Yorkers, Canadians, Michiganders have all returned home. Summer in Florida is for locals and I’ve been able to call myself a local for a few years now.

But this year is going to be very different. I would be curious to know how snowbirds are making their decisions? Are they planning to leave Florida early to perhaps escape to a hometown with fewer cases of COVID-19? Are they disappointed by the closed beaches and would prefer early spring in their northern environment?

Until I hear more from my snowbird neighbors, I’ll watch the pelicans. Their plans to migrate north are unchanged.

Pelicans migrating north