The ongoing spread of the coronavirus pandemic raises legitimate concerns about national and international travel. As the number of cases continues to grow in some parts of the world, travel restrictions will not be eased anytime soon. Airlines reschedule and cancel flights around the world, but for many individuals, travel remains an essential function.
Some people have already put their plans on hold to reduce the risk of infection. However, if you absolutely must travel by plane, here are some helpful tips to avoid germs at the airport and on the plane.
1. Use online check-in before you arrive at the airport.
Skip the line at the airport counter and avoid unnecessary contact by checking in for your flight online. Many airlines allow passengers to check in up to 24 hours before departure. This is the safest, most convenient option, and you avoid the germs of the self-service check-in machines.
2. Choose a window seat on the aircraft.
If you reserve your seat during ticket purchase or check-in, the one you choose will affect your potential germ exposure. Some airlines have chosen to leave the center seats empty, giving you two more options on a typical mid-size aircraft. Passengers in window seats are exposed to the fewest people during an average flight. So this is the best choice. Avoid booking aisle seats, which pose the greatest risk of contact with multiple people.
3. Wear a face mask.
Wearing fabric face masks and face covers properly is important to reduce the spread of the coronavirus and other pathogens. It protects you and everyone else too. Several airlines mandate face coverings as social distancing measures are much more difficult to maintain on the plane.
“It is important to remember that all the new guidelines that we have become used to over the past few months, such as social distancing and hygiene measures, also apply when traveling,”
4. Keep items in your bag at security checkpoints.
The plastic containers for personal items are also used by other travelers, increasing your potential exposure to germs. Instead of dumping the contents of your pockets into the trash cans, it is better to keep your phone, wallet, and other loose items in your pocket. You will also avoid knocking by removing anything that is triggering the alarms.
5. Bring sufficient disinfectant wipes and alcohol-based disinfectants.
Expect all of your travel needs in advance. Donnelly says disinfectant wipes, disinfecting alcohol and disinfectants, and face masks are just as important for travel as passports and luggage. Pack these necessary items in your carry-on bag (just make sure each container of gel or liquid is less than 3 ounces to pass US security clearance). Make sure you have enough to sanitize your hands, cell phone, and immediate surroundings when you get on the plane.
6. Don’t touch your face.
A small behavioral observational study in 2015 found that people touch their faces an average of 23 times an hour. Facial touches are very instinctive – people often don’t realize they are doing it. However, during this pandemic, you need to avoid doing this as much as possible to reduce the spread of germs. Even if you haven’t touched any public surface, just don’t do it.
7. Use cashless transactions.
Some airport businesses allow electronic payments from digital wallets. This type of transaction, along with the latest technological innovations such as virtual boarding passes and online check-ins, reduce unnecessary contact while traveling. Although there is a small chance [PDF] From transmitting viruses through money, it’s still cluttered with germs that you don’t want to hold onto. Donnelly said eliminating contact opportunities is critical for the travel industry as it adapts to the pandemic.
8. Stay away from the crowds.
This may be easier said than done, but there are a few ways you can keep a safe distance between yourself and others. Maintain a physical distance of two meters when queuing for security checks or unloading luggage. Donnelly suggests minimizing your movement around the airport. So stay in position as much as possible. While waiting to board the aircraft, choose a seat in the waiting area that is at least six feet away from other people, or stand from a crowded seating arrangement. Try to get on last so you don’t have to stand in line with the other passengers on narrow sidewalks.
9. Disinfect the touch-sensitive surfaces on your seat in the aircraft.
While airlines are improving their cleaning routines, you should still clean up your immediate surroundings yourself. Disinfect the touch-sensitive surfaces such as the armrest, storage table, seat belt buckle, headrest as well as seat and screen controls. Research has shown that the novel coronavirus can last two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. So clean anything previous passengers may have touched before sitting down.
10. Switch on the overhead ventilation.
Frequent handling of passengers can be a problem in enclosed environments such as airplanes, but as Donnelly says, “Most large airplanes have sophisticated filtration systems [PDF] in place, which means the air is likely cleaner than other tight spaces. “Turn on the overhead ventilation for additional protection against viruses and germs remaining in the air. It forms an air barrier around your seat that can disperse potentially harmful particles in the aircraft’s filtration system, where they are neutralized.
Everywhere, remember to be careful with every step. A little more attention to detail will keep you from harming your health.