Is Air Travel Safe?
Air travel is starting to elevate. During the Coronavirus pandemic, airports saw 4 percent of the foot traffic compared to last year during the same period. July is expected to be fairly busy as airlines have started adding domestic flights to prepare for the uptick in passengers.
Many travelers are looking to travel to luxurious resorts in places like Florida or Las Vegas or to more remote areas like National Parks where it’s easier to practice social distancing compared to busy metropolitan cities.
Although there are positive signs that the travel industry is starting to open up, many travelers are still unsure about traveling during a pandemic.
The biggest crisis facing passengers is that they are being placed in tight spaces with strangers for several hours. According to a New York Times article, a majority of epidemiologists interviewed said that they would not feel comfortable flying until Spring 2021.
Airlines and airports have implemented several policies to ease concerns for travelers. Airlines are taking stock of this and are also taking extra precautions to ease traveler’s concerns.
Air Quality Inside Airplanes
Delta is replacing its High-Efficiency Particulate Absorbing (HEPA) Air Filters or HEPA at twice the recommended rate. To qualify HEPA, the air filter must filter out 99.97% of air particulates that are 0.3 microns or larger. Most bacteria are about 1 micron. HEPA filters are used to filter out the outside air brought in to the plane. Outside air is brought inside the plane. The air then passes through the HEPA filters. This process is repeated every 2-3 minutes. Due to the presence of HEPA filters and recirculated air, the air quality inside a plane is similar to a hospital.
Masks on Planes
Even though the air quality inside of a plane is relatively safe, some airlines are requiring passengers to wear a mask onboard their flight. American Airlines and Jet Blue is mandating that every passenger wears a mask and will be strictly enforcing that policy.
Other high touch point areas will be limited throughout the flight. On-flight services such as beverage and snack options have been limited, if not eliminated on most flights. An Ireland airline is requesting that passengers do not stand in line for the bathroom.
Be sure to check with each specific airline to see what their onboard policies are.
New Airport Social Distancing Policies
Airports have put in several policies to enforce social distancing requirements including no-touch check-ins.
To avoid bottlenecked lines, airports are asking travelers to arrive at least two hours early for their flight. Airports have also ramped up their cleaning and some airports are providing extra sanitation stations for passengers too. At LAX, they will be using a thermal camera to identify passengers with COVID-19 since one common symptom of COVID-19 is fever. TSA gate agents will also be taking the temperatures of guests, providing masks, and hand sanitizer.
Air Travel: Know Before You Go
To stay up-to-date on air travel, follow the CDC, the TSA, your airline’s website, and any airports you will be traveling through. These places will have the most up-to-date information about different procedures being taken to keep passengers safe.