This Memorial Day, 86 percent fewer passengers flew on airlines than the same day last year, according to the TSA. As the economy opens up, more people will want to travel. Is it safe to fly yet, and how can you decrease your risk if you do fly?
The CDC says travel increases your chances of getting and spreading COVID-19 but doesn’t know if one type of travel is safer than others. The International Air Transport Association says the risk of catching an infection on a plane is lower than in a shopping center or office because planes now have recirculation systems that pass cabin air through filters that remove dust particles, bacteria, fungi and viruses, like those used in hospital operating rooms.
Most experts still recommend avoid unnecessary air travel for now. And anyone who feels sick or has recently been diagnosed with COVID-19 should not fly.
But if you decide to fly in the coming months, here are some steps you can take to protect yourself as much as possible.
Before you fly, try to choose an airline that isn’t selling tickets for middle seats to increase the space between passengers. Print your boarding pass at home or use the airline’s app to avoid touching fewer surfaces at the airport.
Drive your own car to the airport instead of using ride shares or public transportation. If you have to use them, wear a mask. Try not to touch anything you don’t have to and use hand sanitizer as soon as you get out.
At the airport, avoid places people congregate. Keep your distance while in line for food or waiting to get on the plane. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after you touch the plastic bins going through security.
And on the plane, wear a mask. Wipe down all surfaces around you when you sit down, like the armrests, video screen and tray table. If you need to use the bathroom, try to do it when there’s not a line.