As the COVID-19 epidemic continues to spread, you may find yourself needing (or wanting) to fly to your destination.
There’s no avoiding the reality that any impending flight travel will put you in close proximity to a large number of other people and a range of routinely touched surfaces, both in the airport and on the plane. And, given what we know about COVID-19, such as the fact that someone can be unwell without even realising it, getting on a plane these days can be a bit nerve-wracking.
When you’re fully vaccinated, you’re better protected against COVID-19, which gives you more freedom in terms of what you can do again.
Therefore, you’ll need to take precautions on your journey, such as wearing a mask and keeping a safe distance.
If you haven’t been vaccinated, you’ll need to take extra care when planning and booking your trip, as well as in the airport and on the plane.
Here are five methods to make COVID-19 a little safer if you’re flying:
When booking your flight, be alert.
When travelling, reducing your COVID risk begins with the decisions you make throughout the booking process, such as avoiding layovers and selecting a location that is relatively close (if your air travel is for pleasure).
It’s also a good idea to look up information on the airline’s website about the safety precautions in place at terminals and on planes. Before booking with a specific airline, you’ll want to ask the following questions:
Do you require the use of a mask?
What methods do you use to preserve social distance?
Is it possible to check-in online or without making a phone call?
What cleaning procedures do you follow?
The majority of airlines have put in place amazing safety features on board their planes, such as plexiglass partitions between aisles and keeping centre seats empty.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the sophisticated technologies used to circulate and filter air in a plane’s cabin prevent most viruses from spreading quickly during a flight.
Wear your mask the entire time you’re on the road
Right now, most airlines demand you to wear a mask both in the airport and on the plane. However, there are some exceptions, such as when you’re eating or drinking.
You could “drink on your cup of water” maskless for the duration of the flight, but don’t.
Wearing your mask not only prevents you from becoming COVID-19, but it also keeps you from spreading the virus to others if you’re sick and don’t realise it — especially if you haven’t been vaccinated. While you may not be experiencing any serious symptoms, someone else on your flight may be at a high risk of getting severe COVID-19 problems.
Wearing a mask should be viewed as a social compact between you and everyone else on your flight, regardless of whether you’ve been vaccinated or not. Wearing a mask is not only necessary in the airport and on your flight during a pandemic; it is also the right thing to do.
Carry hand sanitizer and keep your hands away from your face.
Surfaces that are frequently touched abound at airports and aeroplanes. Airlines are attempting to reduce the number of items passengers must touch by implementing contactless check-in and other steps, but there will always be door handles, luggage bins, escalator bannisters, and that bag of chips you’re munching that someone else picked up and set down…
Hand hygiene is crucial at all times. However, when your exposure to regularly handled surfaces rises, it becomes more important. Consider carrying hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) and using it after contacting common surfaces to help keep your hands virus-free.
Also, keep your hands away from your face. Yes, we recognise that this is a difficult task, but it is critical. You can’t become sick from the new coronavirus through your skin. It can, however, make you sick if you have virus particles on your hands and touch one of your face’s mucosal surfaces, such as your mouth, nose, or eyelids.
Finally, and as always, properly wash your hands after using the restroom. (See also Why COVID-19 Should Make You Reconsider Your Bathroom Etiquette.)
In the airport terminal, spread out
You can’t do much about the fact that you’re in tight quarters on the plane. While you’re at the terminal, however, it should be relatively easy to retain your distance.
Avoid the mindset of “it’s all a risk,” and make the time between security and boarding your flight your best opportunity to limit the number of hazards you face on your travel day.
Keep six feet of space between yourself and others as much as possible when waiting to board your airline — even if it means sitting at a less congested gate until right before your flight. Also, keep in mind that six feet may be a longer distance than you believe.
If community spread is strong where you live or where you’re going, reconsider your vacation plans.
No one wants to have to cancel a trip, especially one to see family you haven’t seen in a long time or a vacation you’ve been planning since the pandemic began. Regrettably, this infection is unconcerned about your vacation plans.
It’s vital to think about whether COVID-19 is easily distributed where you live or where you’re going before you go. If that’s the case, it’s time to reconsider your trip plans.
COVID-19 exposure is more likely in areas where the virus has spread throughout the community. If the virus is easily distributed at your location, you may become ill during your vacation and transfer COVID-19 to your loved ones, as well as spreading it during your return journey. If the virus is easily disseminated where you reside, you could be sick already and unwittingly distribute it to others while travelling or at your destination.
While COVID-19 vaccinations provide excellent protection against this virus, we are still learning how effective they are:
In terms of transmission reduction,
At protecting persons with compromised immune systems against each of the COVID-19 strains currently circulating