While all non essential travel is discouraged or restricted during the coronavirus pandemic, people might have to book flights for necessary travel. For that, it is vital that they are aware of the precautions they should take in order to ensure their safety from the virus. Here are some tips for travellers to protect themselves from COVID-19 on flights.
Travellers must know that the virus can be transmitted from person to person, or through contaminated surfaces. Therefore, a major precaution is to maintain a safe distance of at least 1 metre (3 feet) from other people. To reduce the risk of catching the virus, one should avoid touching any surfaces. In case they do, they should wash their hands for at least twenty seconds, or clean them with a sanitizer that contains over 60% alcohol. Travellers are advised to wear gloves, and to avoid touching their faces, especially their mouth and nose.
To further reduce the risk of virus transmission, travellers are requested to wear masks, which saves them and others from dangerous particles that may spread the disease. This mask should not have been used before, and in case it needs to be changed, used or dirty masks should be carefully disposed of. Travellers should not cough or sneeze without covering their mouths, to avoid spreading contamination.
Getting tested is important, to ensure that one does not travel while they are sick. Some people might be asymptomatic, which means they are capable of spreading the virus without displaying any symptoms. Therefore, visitors should also get their temperature checked on airports, to know if they need to isolate themselves at the moment, or upon reaching their destination.
Many top rated airlines such as Qatar airways regularly disinfect their cabins, with hygiene protocols and cleaning processes recommended by organizations such as WHO. The filtration systems remove most bacterias or viruses in the air. Before choosing their airlines, travellers should search for companies with strict cleaning measures for their flights. While most airlines offer clean and sealed blankets and covers, visitors could also carry their own to avoid coming into contact with contaminated products. Similarly, most airlines offer clean and hot food, with disinfected utensils and handling, but travellers could bring their own safe and clean home-cooked meals. They should also drink sealed or bottled water only, as diseases can be transmitted through unclean water.
Many air travel companies, such as Ethiopian Airlines, have resumed flights to areas without restrictions. Passengers are often encouraged to travel with confidence as planes and equipment are regularly disinfected, but this does not reduce the risk of person to person transmission, so it is essential to keep a safe distance from other passengers. When the plane lands, the travellers should not get up immediately, but leave slowly to avoid crowding the aisles.
Passengers in the window seats have the lowest chance of coming in contact with an infected person, as their area allows them a somewhat secluded spot. An infected person in the aisle has some distance from those in the window seat. In case an infected person is seated on the plane, the passengers within a row of that person have a higher likelihood of contracting the virus. As an extra protective measure, travellers should avoid moving around on planes.
While air systems, disinfecting procedures, and low levels of humidity on planes reduces the probability of transmission, passengers should wear masks and gloves, prevent toilet visits on planes, clean their hands, avoid moving around, opt for window seats, maintain a safe distance from other people, avoid touching their face, and ensure that their food and water is clean. They should try not to touch any surfaces or items such as luggage. Despite these precautions, there might still be a chance of getting sick, so people are told not to travel unless absolutely necessary, and they must be healthy and symptom free. We hope everyone can stay protected from the deadly virus, and enjoy safe travels during the pandemic and after!