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Is flying safe during Covid?

21st October 2020 Print

It’s the question on every sunseeker’s lips, and although many are still heading abroad for a final holiday of 2020, how safe is flying during the Covid-19 pandemic? Airlines say it is.

With public safety at the forefront of operations, airlines are determined to let holidaymakers know that there is a low risk of contracting coronavirus while flying, because so many stringent measures have been put in place.

It all starts at the airport, with strict social distancing, mandatory mask wearing and increasingly digital check-in procedures. In addition, fit-to-fly certificates are something you should find out more about, as failure to produce these has led to holidaymakers being sent home from the airport with no refund.

Although the Government is still advising against all but essential travel, flying has been shown to a carefully regulated activity, leading to little risk. This is also in part thanks to the comprehensive advice being given to all travellers before they even reach their departure lounge. Tips include:

Don’t use public transport

The risk of infection is significantly higher on public transport, so getting to the airport in your own car, while potentially more expensive, could keep you safer. If you don’t have that option, a taxi is still preferable to buses, coaches and trains, as they are regularly sanitised by their drivers and you can enjoy the peace of mind of a plastic screen, too.

Streamline your check-in

Have everything printed out or saved to your smartphone well ahead of time so you can make the check-in and boarding processes fast and straightforward. Make sure you have plenty of masks with you, especially in your baggage, and pay attention to floor markings that dictate distancing guidelines.

Think about your baggage

Information about your travel baggage is conflicting. The Government recommends checking all of your bags to allow for faster disembarking and less risk of transmission, but airlines have said that only taking hand luggage will let you keep your possessions in close proximity and out of multiple bag-handler hands.

Don’t queue for the toilet

Queueing for the toilet is no longer allowed on airplanes, in line with social distancing. If you are making a short trip, it is best to find a toilet in the airport and avoid the issue altogether.

Keep your mask on

You will be expected to wear a face mask for the duration of your flight, except from when you are eating. Some airlines will also ask you to wear a face shield for extra protection. This is for your protection and the health of those around you, so unless you have a documented reason why you can’t wear a mask, make sure that you do.

Pay with contactless

When the duty-free and snack trollies come down the aisle, if you can’t resist something, have the courtesy to pay using a contactless card. The airline crew work hard to keep everybody safe and handling money won’t help with that.

It is possible to catch Covid-19 on a plane, as there have been documented cases, including one of a passenger contracting the disease from an asymptomatic carrier, after using the same toilet.

However, all things considered, airplanes are pretty safe. Modern air filters on planes recirculate sterile air, while the wider system draws in 50% fresh air as well. The old myth of breathing in everybody’s germs is, thankfully, a worry of the past. And provided you stick to safety guidelines, the risk to your health is very low indeed.