This is the Seahawks Gameday Magazine feature story for Week 10 of the 2020 season, presented by Delta Air Lines. Visit our Game Center for more information related to Week 10 vs. the Los Angeles Rams.
The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the way people travel throughout the world, and it's no different with the Seattle Seahawks.
Between limited capacity and required distancing in so many public places, traveling with just yourself during the pandemic can be difficult. In the NFL, teams are regularly traveling for road games while having to accommodate for over 100 people.
These unique hurdles are something the Seahawks – and all NFL teams – have never gone through. It's been a complete change of routine for many players, coaches and staff members that have had the same road game ritual for years.
As the only NFL team located in the Pacific Northwest, the Seahawks often cover more ground than any other franchise. A flight to divisional opponent Arizona runs for over two hours, and trips outside the division often run even longer. This year, with the NFC West playing the NFC East and AFC East as part of their regular schedule rotation, travel has become even more tenuous.
The Seahawks will fly 28,878 miles this season with Delta Air Lines, which is 3,393 more than any other team. With all that mileage, the Seahawks are essentially taking a trip around the world this season – which is just around 25,000 miles.
Through the first eight games of the season, the Seahawks have already made three trips across the country to the East Coast. In the final eight weeks, Seattle will head east twice more to play in Philadelphia and Washington D.C.
"There's so much that's different on these trips," head coach Pete Carroll said. "Just getting on the plane and getting through the process. Everything is a different mentality and everyone's going through the same thing, so it's a shared experience for all the clubs. It's just about staying within the protocols and staying spaced and all of that.
"There's just a different sense of awareness with everything that we're doing that's all about just staying in compliance."
The process of traveling for road games begins at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Players, coaches and staff arrive at the VMAC before taking buses to the airport. This year, with more distancing requirements, the team takes seven buses as opposed to the usual four. The team usually has 165 people in a travel party but that has been reduced to 139 this year, according to Jeremy Young, Seahawks Director of Team Travel. Each person is assigned to a particular seat on a particular bus.
"We've obviously checked with the veteran leadership and make sure they're sitting where they want to sit, then we fill in around them with everybody else," Young said.
After arriving at the airport, the team goes through regular security checkpoints. Before the Seahawks board the plane, it is completely sanitized by Delta. All aircrafts are sanitized with an electrostatic sprayer that clings to all surfaces. The spray kills 99.99% of germs, including viruses. All parts of the plane – tray tables, seat-back entertainment screens, seat belts, arm rests – are wiped down by Delta prior to boarding.