As students need to return to their universities, and many want to see their families or have to travel for work, the question of flying comes into play: is it safe to fly?
I have flown three times since early March, and here are my recommendations when choosing to travel during COVID-19:
Wear. A. Mask. Firstly, most U.S airlines require all the passengers to wear a mask during the plane ride, and will actually ban a passenger for refusing to do so. Although wearing a mask should feel like second nature at this point, please keep reminding yourself to wear one. There are countless studies proving that wearing a face mask is critical in decreasing the spread of COVID-19. However, something to keep in mind is that airlines do give you the option to take off your face mask when eating or drinking. While this may be permitted, if you want to ensure safety during your trip, try to keep your mask on the entire flight. Also, there have been many studies verifying that eye coverage is vital in preventing the spread of Covid-19. According to the CDC, the most effective forms of eye protection are goggles, face shields, safety glasses, or full-face respirators. You may feel like you look silly, but it is worth it!
Turn on the air ventilator: While you are sitting in an airplane, the air you breathe typically ranges from your seat to the seat five feet in front or behind you. So, by turning your personal air ventilator on you can create an air barrier around your set, resulting in increased blockage around airborne particles.
“For airborne viruses, it is incredibly important to ventilate, since ventilation becomes your main means of control besides isolating the affected person,” Dr. Mark Gendreau said, the medical director and vice-chair of emergency medicine at Lahey Medical Center-Peabody.
Ultimately, it will be much harder to spread coronavirus within a plane if the air is filtered around you!
Try to board the plane last: Although many airlines assign seats prior to boarding, during these past few months many flights have been under full capacity, meaning that the flight attendants will allow you to sit anywhere you please. So, if possible, try to wait out the line to board. Once you are on the flight you can view which seat will give you the most isolation from the other passengers.
Sit by the window: Most airlines have implemented the policy that there must be an empty seat between you and another passenger, thankfully. Beyond this precaution, in terms of choosing a window or aisle seat, choose the window. This position seats you the furthest from other passengers sitting and walking through the aisle throughout the flight.
Try to book a direct flight: When purchasing a flight, many of us look for the cheapest one. However, in order to reduce the risk of cont COVID-19, try to book a direct flight! Flying direct limits your interaction with other people, and other surfaces that may contain infections. It can also be very stressful to fly during COVID-19, so flying direct will limit the amount of time traveling.
Practice good hygiene when traveling! Hand sanitizer (3.4 ounces or less) and individually wrapped or larger packages (including the large tubes) of moist wipes are allowed through checkpoints in your carry-on bag. pic.twitter.com/nDlyBhjc11— TSA (@TSA) March 5, 2020
Bring hand sanitizer: When traveling, you are bound to touch new surfaces. So, if you are not wearing gloves, definitely wash your hands often. If soap and water are not available, carry hand sanitizer in your handbag! This is an easy way to make sure your hands stay germ-free while on the plane. However, the bottom line is: try to limit touching your face during the entire travel to ensure the utmost safety.
When you arrive home…
There are important measures to take as soon as you arrive home from the airport. Firstly, take your shoes off at the door, as the bacteria on your shoes can spread throughout your home. Nextly, wash your hands; the CDC recommends that you wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds in order to truly de-sanitize yourself. Also, as your clothes have touched many surfaces, immediately remove your clothing and place it in the wash, or your laundry bag. Try to take a nice long shower to cleanse your body from the whole experience. Then, once you are clean, wipe down your luggage so the germs from the surfaces do not spread throughout your home. Continuously wash your hands and try not to touch your face!
If you need to travel within the US, make sure you follow the guidance of local officials in the location you are departing from and the location you are traveling to. For more information about traveling within the US visit: https://t.co/5W44A5Wmi9. pic.twitter.com/6dLB4iTQgy— CDC Travel Health (@CDCtravel) May 18, 2020
Overall, flying during the COVID pandemic can definitely put you at risk. However, as someone who has flown three separate times since early March, and has stayed healthy, taking the right precautions can truly limit your risk of obtaining COVID-19!