The novel coronavirus has profoundly impacted virtually every aspect of our daily lives. With schools and non-essential businesses remaining closed in many states and the general public being cautioned to stay home in order to flatten the curve, it’s no surprise that the travel industry has seen drastic changes over the last couple of months. While approximately 1 billion U.S. passengers fly on airlines every year, many of those airlines have grounded the majority of their flights, flown largely empty aircraft, and made big changes to the way they operate in order to keep passengers safe.
Although it seems like most people may be forgoing any kind of unnecessary travel right now, the reality is that many Americans are still flying with major airlines and frequenting travel hubs (like central Illinois airports). Whether you need to travel for work, for family obligations, or for any other essential purpose, it’s essential you’re able to get where you’re going in a safe manner. Here are just a few precautions passengers will want to take when flying during — and even after — the COVID-19 pandemic.
Check Airport Flight Schedules
One of the first steps you should take before you ever leave your home for your trip is to check airport flight schedules. Airlines have severely decreased their flight schedules in recent weeks, so it’s possible that your flight may have already been canceled or amended as a result. If your flight has been canceled or changed, you may need to cancel your trip entirely or contact the airline to determine whether you’re eligible for a refund or flight credit.
Wash Your Hands Frequently
Of course, hand-washing is a huge priority right now. You’ll need to be diligent about your personal hygiene if you go through any travel hub like an airport. TSA now allows each passenger to fly with one liquid hand sanitizer (up to 12 ounces) in their carry-on bags, which is a change from previous restrictions related to liquid products. In addition to using hand sanitizer with at least 70% alcohol content on a frequent basis, you should also wash your hands any time you come into contact with a shared surface or potential respiratory secretions. Make sure to wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds each time. If you have access to any type of sanitizing wipe, it’s a good idea to bring those in a travel pack with you.
Wear a Mask As Required
Although original health guidance suggested that mask-wearing was only necessary for those exhibiting symptoms of infection, the World Health Organization and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommend that Americans wear masks or some kind of face-covering while in any public space. Many airlines have also changed their policies pertaining to face masks and are now requiring (or will soon be requiring) all passengers to provide and wear face masks while onboard their flights. Even if your airline doesn’t explicitly require this, it’s generally a good practice to uphold when you’re in close quarters with others.
Stay Spread Out
Many carriers have explicitly said they’re taking measures to ensure passengers stay spread out while on their flights. Some are keeping the middle seat empty to create more distance between individuals, while others are decreasing the number of passengers allowed to board at any given time. While navigating throughout the airport, lining up at the gate or at security, and boarding the plane, keep as much distance as possible between yourself and others. While the recommended six feet of allowance may not be feasible at all times, any extra distance will likely help.
For many people, it’s necessary to travel via airplane during this time. These precautions can increase your safety and the safety of those around you when in-flight. For more information on our upcoming flight schedule, we’re here to help. Please also see our recent post on the COVID-19 crisis for further guidance.