If You’re Going to Fly, Take Precautions to Increase Safety
COVID-19 cases are growing in certain regions, resulting in numerous changes in health parameters for states and countries across the globe. New cases are boosted by strains of the virus that are reported to be more contagious.
As experts in aviation and crisis communications, with world-renowned epidemiologists on staff, Xenophon has been closely following the developments as they occur in relation to the pandemic’s impact on airlines, airports, and the travel industry.
This includes understanding the many steps service providers are taking to make passengers feel comfortable and safe when flying. While airlines and airports have put safety protocols in place, it’s also be important for passengers to take the right precautions, especially if they’re experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Recent data shows that people infected with the coronavirus are still traveling on planes, increasing the potential for exposing others and further spreading the virus.
The risks can be mitigated if all travelers take the recommended precautions to stop the spread of the virus:
- Don’t Travel if You Have Been Exposed to COVID: It is possible to be exposed to COVID-19 by others, and not develop any symptoms. But just like if you did develop symptoms, it is important to isolate and avoid traveling because you still could carry the virus to others around you.
- Follow All Travel Guidelines: Airlines and airports nationally and across the globe have ramped up cleaning and hygiene practices to ensure that passengers are flying in the safest environments possible. Their efforts include implementing guidelines that all travelers need to follow to protect their own health, as well as the wellbeing of others. If the practices are not followed, passengers risk removal from their flight, or even worse, arrest, jailtime and fines as the FAA has recently signed an order to curb unruly behavior from passengers.
- Get Tested for COVID-19: Many governments, including in the U.S., are now requiring passengers to provide a negative test before entering a country. This means passengers should be getting tested for the coronavirus before boarding a plane. Hawaii enacted this policy back in October, and the U.S. will implement it on Jan. 26 for anyone traveling into the country, including U.S. citizens.
- Get the COVID-19 Vaccine (When Available to You): The coronavirus vaccines are 95% effective, and are essential to eliminating the virus. Getting the vaccine could also be required for travelers who are flying into other countries.
- Continue to Wear Masks: Data has shown that masks prevent the spread and the contraction of COVID-19. Continuing to wear a mask, especially around others in an airport and or on a plane, is essential to controlling the spread.
- Maintain 6 Feet of Physical Distance: Any steps you can take to increase safety is important, even if it’s not fool proof. This includes standing at least 6 feet from other travelers and employees of airports. Practicing social distancing can help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus between individuals.
- Wash Hands with Soap and Water: We know that COVID-19 is spread through the air, but washing your hands regularly is a tried-and-true piece of advice regardless of the coronavirus. Since soap and water not only inactivates the virus but washes it away (something hand sanitizer does not do). When washing hands, make sure you also wash for 20 to 30 seconds to effectively clean your hands.
- Travel with Windows Down in Cars to and from Airport: If you’re not able to take your personal vehicle to the airport, riding in a taxi or ride-share vehicle with the windows down can help reduce the risk of COVID-19. The best option is to have all four windows down but having two down on opposite sides of the car that are not next to a driver or passenger is also helpful.
- Utilize Contactless Technology: Where possible utilizing contactless technology when checking into flights or entering foreign countries, is recommended. The implementation of facial recognition and biometric systems at airports is growing, and these technologies will limit the exchange of IDs, passports and paper tickets and reduce the potential to spread of COVID-19.
- Avoid Contact with Surfaces: Constantly touched surfaces such as door handles, railings, and counters can easily contain a variety of germs – not just the coronavirus. Avoiding contact with these surfaces is recommended, but if it’s not always possible make sure you avoid spreading germs by making contact with your face and others before washing your hands.
- Watch for COVID Symptoms: It is important to monitor yourself or others in your household for symptoms of COVID-19: trouble breathing, fever, fatigue, coughing, loss of sense of taste or smell, and others. Should symptoms develop, it is important to isolate and not travel in order to avoid exposing others to the virus.
Following these steps will help mitigate the spread and exposure of COVID-19, but it will take everyone involved in the travel process to ensure it is done effectively to keep everyone safe.