Being Plane Safe

Air travel has plummeted since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic as people have found other ways to conduct business and family reunions. For those who are contemplating a trip, there are some things to consider.

First, make sure you really want to go. Some states require people who travel out of state to quarantine for two weeks after arriving or coming home. Check state requirements for your destination. If you don’t have two weeks to be secluded, you probably should stay home.

The Centers for Disease Control says there isn’t much likelihood of getting COVID-19 on a plane because of the way air is filtered and circulates, but airplane seating makes social distancing difficult so could increase the chance of catching the virus.

Still, need to go?

If you are clear for takeoff, make sure you pack correctly.

Get a mask, in fact, get more than one. You don’t want your mask to fall out of your bag or get left in an airline bathroom because you are going to have a hard time getting on a plane without one. Your airline might be willing to give you one, or they might not. Put one mask in your carry-on, another in your bag, and have one in your pocket or purse to put on when you get to the airport.

When you go through screening, the TSA officer is probably going to ask you to adjust your mask so they can see your face. But instead of handing them your boarding pass or cell phone. Place it on the scanner yourself to eliminate extra contact. Put your keys, wallet, and phone in your carry-on instead of dropping them into the bin when you go through screening, too. If they make you take your cell phone out, ask if you can hold it.

Precautions

Washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds is important in limiting the spread of COVID-19. Wash your hands before and after going through TSA screening. After touching kiosks, handrails, elevators, or escalators, but try to avoid touching these if you can. If you cannot wash your hands use a hand sanitizer that is at least 60 percent alcohol.  The TSA now allows people to carry on a 12-ounce bottle of hand sanitizer, unlike the limit of 3.4 ounces for all other liquids and gels. They are probably going to screen it separately, though, so be sure you have some extra time.

Many airports have markers 6 feet apart marked on the floor at an airline. And offer rental car counters and for the lines at the TSA checkpoints. Look for the spots on the floor, and keep your distance in restrooms, seating, and food counters, too.

When you get on the plane keep your mask on when you are boarding and while in your seat. Some airlines have done away with food service, so that might not be an issue. Passengers can bring on their own food and buy drinks once they are through the TSA checkpoint.

You also need to do all the things during travel that you do at home – stay away from people who are sick, don’t touch your nose and mouth, and cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, preferably not with your hands, but with your elbow or a tissue.

And if you don’t feel good, stay at home!


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