So we’re a few months into the pandemic and everyone is itching to get back on a plane to go literally anywhere. But, is it okay to travel during Covid? While there is still risk wherever you go, airports and airlines are taking precautions and doing what they can to make people more comfortable with travelling . Honestly, it’s a personal decision and it comes down to how you feel, where you’re going and if you’re willing to quarantine upon arrival/return (if needed). It’s also a good idea to check with a health professional if you’re unsure about flying during this time.
What are the risks of flying during Covid?
Some countries are beginning to reopen and welcome tourists which is exciting, but could be a cause for concern in regards to spreading the virus. People from all over the world come together at airports and there are several touch points that have potential for carrying the virus. It is also difficult to maintain social distancing on airplanes. While there are obvious risks with travel during Covid, there are plenty of things you can do to protect yourself, including wearing a mask at all times.
What should you think about before booking?
When choosing your flight, make sure the airline is offering a flexible booking policy should you need to change your flight. It’s also important to check national regulations as well as the current local guidelines and policies so you know what to expect once you arrive at your destination. Are case numbers spiking at your destination or do they seem under control? Are you or someone you’re visiting/living with at-risk? These are just a couple things to consider before traveling. Be sure to read the Department of Health guidelines before planning your travel.
What are airlines doing to lower the risk of flying?
In addition to electrostatic spraying and deep cleaning of the aircraft, American is requiring face masks for passengers and crew and have readily available sanitizing wipes or gels.
Delta is blocking middle seats and requiring face masks for passengers and crew. They are also increasing sanitization procedures with electrostatic spraying and regular cleaning of armrests, lavatories, tray tables etc. They even have complimentary care kits (including a mask and sanitiser) upon request!
Qatar Airways has increased cleaning and disinfecting of aircrafts after every flight and all crew and passengers are required to wear a face mask (and sometimes even a provided face shield). Protective kits will also be handed out to all passengers.
You may be asked to complete a health declaration before flying with Singapore Airlines. All their aircrafts are sanitized after every flight and they are offering care kits to all passengers.
United has partnered with Clorox for disinfecting their aircrafts with electrostatic spraying and more. All passengers and crew are required to wear face masks and they are offering an “all-in-one” snack bag that includes a sanitiser wipe, bottled water and some snacks.
What are airports doing to lower the risk of flying?
Airports are also doing their part to reduce the risk of travel during Covid. Passengers are encouraged (and in some places, required) to check-in online before arriving at the airport to avoid human contact. Some airports are also doing temperature screenings and sending people home if their temperature is too high. Hand sanitiser is also more readily available throughout airports and most shops are closed.
Be sure to make yourself aware of the current safety policy of the airline you’ll be flying and the airports you’ll be traveling through. Failure to follow guidelines could get you kicked off your flight with no refund.
What can you do to protect yourself while flying?
Always, always, always wear a mask – at the airport and throughout your flight. It’s also a good idea to check in online to reduce contact at the airport. Make sure you bring your own hand sanitiser and disinfectant wipes so you can rest assured your seat, tray table, etc. are clean. There are even disposable airplane seat covers and door openers that you can get to make yourself feel safer too.
So is flying right now okay?
All in all, travel during Covid is definitely different and has potential for risk, but you can take several precautions to mitigate this risk. Travel is certainly picking up again and airlines and airports are doing what they can to keep you healthy, so now it’s your turn. Make sure to check and stay updated with Department of Health updates and recommendations for travel with the coronavirus. Also, d your own research in regards to airline policies, local regulations and Covid-19 case numbers in your destination. Don’t forget to pack your face mask and hand sanitiser and if you’re not feeling well, do not travel!