Is it safe to fly right now? Our first-hand experience
As borders continue to lift and travel restrictions continue to be downgraded more people are open to leisure travel. Although many travelers are hitting the road, some are looking to the sky to take their long-awaited or postponed vacations this year. So, is air travel safe right now?
Based on research and personal experiences that answer is still quite complicated. Overall, it is your personal decision whether you choose to travel via air or not.
Our Travel Coordinator, Lvonne, recently flew to Denver to see family and said, “You can see, and honestly smell, the difference of how clean the plane is. Where you usually find grimy fingerprints was replaced by steaks of disinfectant.” All airlines have established strict cleaning protocols that include detailed cleaning of high touch surfaces and restrooms. Replacement of air filters, and for airlines such as JetBlue, United, Southwest, Delta, and Hawaiian the use of electrostatic antimicrobial sprays that hit every corner of the cabin. “While the airline seemed clean, I still brought sanitizer and wipes to clean the surfaces around my seat just to be on the safe side,” says Lvonne.
The flight itself is one element, but what about the airport and the compliance of other passengers? Due to the evidence that wearing a face mask is key in slowing the spread of COVID-19 airlines are now mandating that one be worn on board the flight at all times unless eating or drinking. Most airlines have limited their food and beverage services so time spent not wearing a mask is limited. Masks are also enforced, although not mandatory, while in the airport as well. “I was surprised to see that 98% of travelers and staff within the airport had their masks on at all times. It truly made the process feel safer for everyone”, claims Lvonne.
Social distancing is another tough task for both the airport and airlines to master. Luckily, both have put together protocols to keep travelers separate. Seats in the waiting area at each gate have been sectioned off to allow for space between them. Some are single chairs separated, while others have multiple seats stating they are reserved for families. When boarding, you are no longer lined up 30+ at a time. You are called up 10 at a time and those 10 are boarded before the next ten are called. Finally, airlines are flying at lower capacities and keeping the middle seat open in each aisle to properly distance passengers.
It is up to you whether you deem air travel is safe at this time, but trends are showing the airlines are becoming a popular form of transportation again for many travelers. Be sure to do your research or talk to your Olsen-O’Leary Travel Consultant about flight options. While air travel may be growing in popularity, airlines are still flying at a lower capacity and fewer planes so schedules will not be as frequent as they once were.