The question of whether or not it is a good idea to fly in this time of a pandemic is a complicated one. Personally, I am not planning to fly now, but the process of what one considers in when to start traveling again should includes steps that minimize your and others risk.
Fearing to Fly?
There are two main concerns that leads to a fear of flying. First, is sitting within six feet of someone who is carrying the new novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and asymptomatic. Flying is not the only concern for travelers as often you need to use other forms of transportation including shuttle bus or train services.
The second concern is touching a surface that has been contaminated with the novel Coronavirus. There are many opportunities for contact with surfaces as one travels such as: a shared armrest, the airplane or airport restroom, the seat tray, and so on… The virus is known to survive for hours degrading over time. Avoid touching your mouth or nose to limit your risk of infection. In addition, the cleaning of the high-contact surfaces can further decrease the risk of infection.
According to the CDC, your risk of infection id directly corresponds to your ‘dose’ of exposure. This means the duration of time you are exposed to someone infected with the coronavirus.
Consider This, Before You Book
There is no way to make air travel 100% safe. This realty might make you decide to avoid air travel or delay it until a later time. However, you can make air travel safer by consider the following:
Always follow the health experts advise and consider the hierarchy of controls from the The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH):
The hierarchy of controls has two considerations; 1) focusing on strategies to control exposure, and 2) minimize relying on individual human behavior as means to control exposure. So, keep in mind that you may be infectious and everyone around you may also be infectious in your planning for your air travel. Can you eliminate the hazard? Probably not completely and you should ask yourself if you can eliminate or postpone that upcoming trip. If you are older or have preexisting conditions, postponing air travel should be considered.
Can you travel to the destination by automobile. You can have more control of the environment that you are when driving. If the destination is less than a days drive, you might consider an alternative means such as driving vs. air travel. The convenience factor is gone by following this means of travel, but consider both options (driving vs. air travel) in planning your next trip.
Traveling By Air
If you have considered all possible means of travel and still wish to travel by airplane, please check out the airlines’ policies on seating and boarding. Many U.S. airlines have updated their policies including: Delta, United, and America Airlines. Several airlines have been criticized for filling planes to near capacity and now have updated their policy with more flexible cancellation options. In summary, you want to wear a face mask, keep interactions with other people to a minimum, use electronic check-in apps, and pack your own food helps reduce face-to-face contact. Speaking of eating and drinking on the plane, this carries it own challenges. You want to stay hydrated, but don’t want to something that increases your risk. Be safe reviewing the airlines’ policies and current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Air travel during the times of the Coronavirus-19 pandemic brings its own unique challenges. We will get back to our new normal. Please be safe and healthy out there. Wash those hands!