As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, you will find yourself needing (or wanting) to travel to another destination. Driving is, without a doubt, the better alternative, but it isn’t always feasible.
There’s no avoiding the fact that any upcoming air travel would bring you in close proximity to a large number of other people and a variety of frequently touched surfaces, both in the airport and on the plane. And, given what we know about this latest coronavirus, such as the fact that someone can be sick without even realizing it, getting on a plane these days can be a little nerve-wracking.
Here are five ways to make COVID-19 a little better if you’re flying:
When booking your flight, be cautious.
When traveling, reducing the COVID risk begins with the choices you make during the booking process, such as avoiding layovers and selecting a destination that is relatively nearby (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 measures in place at terminals and on flights. Before booking with a specific airline, you’ll want to ask the following questions:
- Do you want the use of a mask?
- What methods do you use to maintain social distance?
- Is it possible to check-in online or by making a phone call?
- What cleaning protocols do you follow?
The majority of airlines have put in place impressive safety features onboard their planes, such as plexiglass dividers between aisles and holding middle seats empty. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the advanced devices used to circulate and filter air in a plane’s cabin prevent most viruses from spreading easily during a flight.
Wear your mask the entire time you’re on the road
Right now, most airlines need you to wear a mask while in the airport and on the plane. However, there are several exceptions, such as when you’re eating or drinking.
You might “sip on your cup of water” maskless for the duration of the flight, but don’t.
Wearing your mask not only keeps you safe from COVID-19, but it also keeps you from transmitting the virus to others if you’re sick and don’t realize it. Although you may not be experiencing any extreme symptoms, anyone else on your flight may be at a high risk of developing serious complications from COVID-19. Wearing a mask should be seen as a social contract between you and the rest of the passengers on your flight. It’s simply the best thing to do in the event of a pandemic.
Carry hand sanitizer and keep your hands away from your face.
Surfaces that are often touched abound in airports and airplanes. Airlines are attempting to reduce the amount of items passengers must touch by implementing contactless check-in and other steps, but there will still be door handles, luggage bins, escalator banisters, and that bag of chips you’re eating that someone else picked up and set down…
Hand hygiene is crucial at all times. However, as your sensitivity to regularly touched surfaces increases, it becomes more essential. Consider bringing hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) and using it after touching common surfaces to help keep your hands virus-free.
Also, keep your hands away from your ears. Yes, we recognize that this is a difficult task, but it is critical. You can’t get sick from the coronavirus through your skin. It can, however, make you sick if you have viral particles on your hands and touch one of your face’s mucous membranes, such as your mouth, nose, or eyelids.
Finally, and as always, thoroughly wash your hands after using the toilet.
In the airport terminal, spread out
You can’t do anything about the fact that you’re in close quarters on the plane. When you’re in the terminal, however, it should be relatively easy to keep your distance.
Avoid the mindset of “it’s all a chance,” and make the time between security and boarding the flight your best opportunity to reduce the number of risks you face on your travel day.
Keep six feet of space between yourself and others as much as possible when waiting to board your plane — even if it means sitting at a less crowded gate until just before your departure. Even, bear in mind that six feet can be a longer distance than you think.
If community spread is high where you live or where you’re going, reconsider your travel plans.
No one wants to have to cancel a trip, particularly one to see family you haven’t seen in a long time or a vacation you’ve been planning since the pandemic started. Regrettably, this virus is unconcerned with your travel plans.
It’s important 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 travel plans.
COVID-19 exposure is more likely in areas where the virus has spread across the population. If the virus is easily transmitted at your destination, you can become ill during your trip and spread COVID-19 to your loved ones, as well as spreading it during your return journey. If the virus is easily transmitted where you live, you may be sick already and unwittingly spread it to others when traveling or at your destination.
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