Despite the fact that all of the medical and scientific people are telling us to stay home and not travel to see friends and relatives for Thanksgiving and the rest of the holiday season during this ongoing pandemic, especially if you have to fly, in some cases, for whatever the reason, it is just unavoidable.
Now traveling to see friends and relatives for the holidays by car is one thing. You have a pretty solid semblance of control over who is traveling with you and the places you might stop.
However, flying on a plane during a pandemic? That’s a whole other ball of wax.
While many, if not all of the airlines have imposed capacity limits on flights, there is just no way short of wearing a full hazmat suit with a respirator to avoid other people.
So what can you do to at least lower your risk of infection or even your chance of spreading the coronavirus to others when flying?
According to Harvard’s recent Aviation Public Health Initiative (APHI) study, assuming you’re not doing something stupid, the risk of contracting COVID-19 on an airplane is relatively low.
Dr. Leonard Marcus, co-director of the Aviation Public Health Initiative (APHI), stated in the report that “with their high-performing ventilation systems, the actions that the airlines put in place – including mandatory use of face masks – significantly reduce risks of viral transmission aboard an airplane.”
To be proactive, however, it is suggested that when booking your flight you try to grab a window seat. This will almost guarantee that no one will be sitting next to you, and perhaps not even in your row. Plus, you will be as far away as possible from anyone sitting in the row across the aisle and from the flight attendants making their passes through the cabin.
Another good option is the middle seat of the middle aisle, for essentially the same reasons.
You can also use the airline’s app to keep an eye on the seating and change your seat right up until you have to head to the airport, and in some cases right up until check-in.
If none of that works, just try speaking to a flight attendant, express your concerns and ask them to reseat you. The planes aren’t going to be full and they will usually understand and be accomodating.
Other flying tips provided by the Transportation and Safety Administration (TSA) include the usual maintaining a social distance of six feet, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer regularly, including directly before and after completing the security screening process, but also…
• Remove belts and all personal items from your pockets such as wallets, keys or phones before you enter the checkpoint queue and place them in your carry-on bag. (This saves time spent waiting in line with other people.)
• Remove food items from carry-on bags and place in bin for screening. (Same reason.)
• Arrive at the airport early, perhaps even earlier than normal, as staffing and operations at airports has also been affected by the pandemic.
And finally, just wear a face mask throughout your entire trip. Please. And be safe.