The holiday season is just around the corner. People have been cooped up. Folks are looking for ways to venture out safely. Perhaps you’re looking ahead to the holidays and safe gatherings with family or friends in distant places.
If your plans involve flying, you’ll want to protect yourself and the loved ones you’re visiting.
I had the chance to ask infectious disease doctor Pablo Feuillet about flying safely during COVID, especially if you’re in a high-risk group or have underlying conditions. Here’s a summary of our Q&A session.
Is it possible for people with underlying conditions to fly safely and avoid COVID-19?
Nothing is 100% safe, but if you need to fly, there are definitely precautions you can take, whether you’re in a high-risk group or not.
I’m assuming this involves wearing a mask?
Yes, but it should be an N95 mask. You wear glasses, so that gives you additional protection since the virus is contracted through the nose, mouth or eyes.
What about not being able to social distance on the plane?
If you’re flying on a newer plane, the circulation systems are very good.
Actually, your concerns should start as soon as you enter the building. Watch your distance in the security line, and don’t let your guard down in the gate area. Do your best to keep space around you when people gather to board the plane, as well as while on the jetway.
On the plane, it’s not just the people next to you. The people in front, in back and across the aisle are within range of emitting droplets. If they’re coughing or sneezing or talking very animatedly, be extra vigilant. Don’t adjust your mask, which might let the droplets in. Don’t touch your face, and don’t touch objects that touch your face. For instance, be sure to wash your hands before touching your glasses.
Also remember to attempt to keep your distance from others as you exit the plane and the airport.
When I fly, I usually wipe down the seatback and tray in front of me, arm rests and seatbelt. Will that help during COVID?
That’s not a guarantee, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt. You’ll be getting rid of germs. The airlines are also supposed to wipe down the planes between flights, and they should be using cleaners that kill viruses.
This is a summary of my notes from speaking with Dr. Feuillet.
If you need a second opinion about flying safely during COVID, here are two sources for you: