If you’re a jet setter or vacationer who didn’t think twice about
germs (or what to pack) before heading to the airport, guess what:
You’re in good company. Sanitized
travel is a new trend. According to a survey by aviation marketing
consulting firm SimpliFlying.com, seventy aspects of a traveler’s
experience have changed indefinitely in the wake of global health
concerns, from check-in to in-flight sanitation measures.
Not sure what that means for a traveler reborn? We spoke to Robert
Silk, airlines editor at Travel Weekly, for tips on
how to keep yourself (and other travelers) healthy before and during
your next flight. Before you depart, in the terminal, and up in the
air, here’s how to avoid germs and stay healthy.
Go Germ-Free Before Departure
Pack your own mask and hand sanitizer. This one might sound
second-nature, but it’s true: You need to follow the same
face-covering precautions up in the air as you do when you’re on the
ground. While many
airlines, such as JetBlue, Delta, American and Frontier, have made
it their policy for passengers and flight attendants to wear
protective face coverings on board, the FAA hasn’t made that an
official requirement … yet.
“You really have no control over social distancing on a plane: It’s
completely at the airline’s control,” Silk says. “They’re not willing
to use flight attendants as police officers on the plane, so once
someone takes theirs off, you might be stuck.” In short: It’s always a
good idea to pack a mask in your carry-on,
as well as hand sanitizer.
Look for flights that aren’t
According to Silk, some
airlines, such as United, agreed to notify passengers when flights
were 70 percent full before departure, so passengers could change
their itinerary if necessary; others, such as Delta and Southwest,
are blocking off blocks of their inventory to keep passengers safe.
If you don’t feel comfortable flying on a packed flight, it might be
worth postponing your trip.
Check in before you leave home. Even though airports will be
emptier than they used to be for a long while, downloading the
airline’s app or using TSA
pre-check before you leave will help you avoid check-in kiosks and
through security, eliminating another common touchpoint for
germs at the airport.
Avoid Germs In the Airport Terminal
Get ready for a temperature check. This goes without saying,
but if you feel even the slightest bit feverish, stay home! As of June
1, Frontier Airlines will require a touchless temperature
check after you board. If your reading is higher than 100.4, you
won’t be allowed to fly. Other airlines may have similar policies, so
read up before you leave so you can be prepared.
Don’t wait at your gate. Social distancing rules apply in
airports, too, which means the days of rushing to your gate and
waiting to board are over. It’s easier said than done, but Silk
recommends maintaining distance in a TSA line and when boarding your aircraft.
Protect Yourself from Airplane Germs
Pack disinfectant wipes.
It’s not required to wipe
down your seat once you’re on board– especially since airlines have
already upped their
due to enhanced
sanitation requirements between flights with defoggers and
“When [airlines] are doing overnight sanitizing, they’re using a
higher grade sanitizer than they’ve used in the past, such as electrostatic
sprayers,” Silk says. “From having talked to a couple physicians
who actually focus on safety in the air, these filtration systems are
hospital quality. Air is being circulated more efficiently in an
airplane than it would be at a gate, for example. On the flipside,
that doesn’t help if you’re near someone and they cough.” There’s no
reason not to give surfaces an extra wipe-down of your own, and keep
wipes in your carry-on bag.
Remember the flying days
of yore when you could move about the cabin freely after the
seatbelt sign turned off? They won’t be back anytime soon. To
maintain social distancing measures on board, some airlines, such as
Ryanair, are requiring you to ask permission to use the lavatory.
Same with deplaning: “In the old days, you know you’re not going to
get out for 10 minutes, but we’re all standing up anyway,” Silk
said. “Now when the plane lands, everything should be done with
caution and understanding.”
If all of these cautionary tips have you clamoring for your next
trip, patience is important there, too. Most destinations aren’t
encouraging travel, and don’t have the proper precautions in place to
accommodate visitors. “One thing I think travelers can be confident of
is when they get to their hotel, it’s gonna be more sanitized and
cleaner than it’s ever been in the past,” Silk said. “The same could
be said for the airport, and the airplane—and really all other
portions of the travel journey while the pandemic continues.”
Whether you're flying near or far, research your destination first
and follow all local, national, and global health advice to ensure
you have a safe trip.
While Eagle Creek is here to provide tips and insights on travel,
we cannot accept any responsibility for any potential consequences
arising from the use of this information. Always conduct your own
research and use your best judgment.
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