5 Tips on Flying During COVID-19

Flying during COVID-19 is a personal decision. There is no right or wrong. Remaining close to home is understandable. And with precautions, venturing further can be done safely.

This month, I’m taking my first international trip since the pandemic started in February. Mexico is the destination to celebrate my 60th birthday. I’ve taken extra safety precautions outlined by the CDC to protect myself and others. These provisions in conjunction with airlines’ strict sanitizing protocols will help reduce the chances of contracting coronavirus.

Here are five tips on flying during COVID-19

Airplane cabin with empty seats

Book With Airlines Who Block Middle Seats

Aircrafts are cleaner now than they’ve been in years. Mandatory fogging and daily deep cleaning ensure sanitation measures are at their utmost highest. Commercial aircrafts use a HEPA filter in their cabins, according to Collins Aerospace. These generate air as clean or cleaner than in a hospital operating room.

The environmental control system replaces the air in the cabin every 2 – 3 minutes on commercial aircrafts. The addition of required face masks for passengers and crew helps lower the risk of being exposed to coronavirus particles.   

To take safety one step further, choose an airline which blocks the middle seat in each row. The empty seat between you and a fellow passenger helps create social distance. The list of U.S. carriers who adhere to this standard changes daily.

As of now, these airlines do not sell the middle seat when flying during COVID-19:

Alaska, Delta, Hawaiian & Southwest.

Sanitation & Immune boosting kit for when flying during COVID-19

Take a Sanitation & Immune Boosting Kit

Sanitizing your seat, and surrounding area, as well as maintaining a strong immune system are both important. Put together a kit with essential items to take onboard the plane when flying during COVID-19.

My sanitation and immunity kit contains the following ten products. I’ve provided links for you to purchase the items for your bag.

KN95/N95 masks (https://amzn.to/3nLqO7n ). There are lots of different masks to choose from. The KN95/N95 meets U.S. standards for respiratory masks by capturing 95% of particles to prevent virus transmission.

Face shield (https://amzn.to/2JfOqkA). This is an extra layer of protection. The shield will keep droplets from going into passengers’ eyes. Eye googles are another option.

Trip Wipes (https://amzn.to/350wrWr). These large, sturdy non-rip wipes are anti bacterial, biodegradable, and alcohol free. They smell amazing due to top grade oils. Each wipe is individually wrapped. Even when I’m not traveling I keep a few packets in my purse.

Hand sanitizer (https://amzn.to/3dDTBGp ). Err on the side of sanitizing more than less. Throughout the flight squeeze a dab of sanitizer on your hands. Also on a napkin to clean your armrest, tray table and overhead knobs.

Vinyl gloves (https://amzn.to/2Haldq4 ). Wear these while placing your luggage in the overhead compartment, getting into your seat, and fastening your seatbelt. Once you’ve wiped down your area and are settled in, dispose of the gloves.

Non-Contact forehead/wrist thermometer ( https://amzn.to/3lQZoLh). The morning of your flight, take your temperature to assure it is below 100 degrees. Once at the airport take it again. If you’re on a long flight, perhaps take your temperature one more time mid-flight.

Immune Boosting

Sambucus elderberry syrup ( https://amzn.to/3jY9SYQ). The thin syrup made from the elderberry is said to boost the immune system. It’s packed with anti-oxidants and vitamins.

Zinc dissolvable tablets ( https://amzn.to/2SYylRO). Zinc is the second most abundant trace mineral in your body after iron. It aids in the development and function of immune cells and keeps your immune system strong. You get Zinc through your diet and it’s found mostly in plant and animal sources. If you don’t get enough through your diet, a supplement will help. 

Ener-C ( https://amzn.to/3k1pb2T). This is a non-GMO multivitamin and electrolyte sourced from real fruit and veggies. The powder can be put in your favorite beverage to drink.

Ricola cough/throat drops ( https://amzn.to/372HAc9). The lozenges are made with ten herbs — elder, sage, peppermint, mallow, horehound, thyme, wild thyme, lemon balm, hyssop, and linden flowers. Should the cabin air dry your throat, these are a more natural alternative to synthetic drops.



TSA PreCheck security line. Good for when Flying during COVID-19.

Enroll in TSA PreCheck

TSA PreCheck is obtained by the Transportation Security Administration and allows you to access a separate security line which expedites the screening process. Fewer people have permission to use this line, resulting in less contact with fellow travelers when flying during COVID-19.

Those with TSA PreCheck keep shoes, belts, and jackets on, and they keep laptops and food in their carry-on meaning less time in the security line.

To enroll in this program go on https://www.tsa.gov/precheck. Applicants need to complete a background check, be fingerprinted, and pay an $85 fee. Upon acceptance, a Known Traveler Number is issued to use on future travel.

The TSA PreCheck approval is good for five years before necessary renewal.

Sandwich and Vapur disposable bottle
Photo: Mae Mu

Bring Your Own Food & Drinks

Depending on which airport you’re flying from will determine whether sit-down restaurants, cafes and coffee shops are open. Many offer take out only, reduced their hours, and have limited food selection. Self-serve beverage dispensers have been removed.

It’s best to pack food and drinks so as not to go hungry.

Getting through security with a beverage is easier by bringing an empty disposable bottle to fill once you’ve cleared TSA. I’ve owned a Vapur reusable water bottle for years. It’s perfect for flying. When empty, it rolls up for easy storage. When full, it holds three cups of liquid. Here’s the link to purchase a Vapur for your next trip: (https://amzn.to/2HPc0nC).

Airplane cabin seats and air vents.
Photo: Kellie McClintock

Open the Air Vent Above Your Seat

Air circulation throughout a commercial plane flows top to bottom and is “compartmentalized into various sections of the aircraft” according to Mark Gendreau, an expert on the spread of infectious diseases associated with air travel and vice chair of emergency medicine at Lahey Medical Center-Peabody.

In other words, by opening the vent above your seat, you create an air barrier around you, blocking tiny droplets containing viruses and forcing them to the ground.

With these safety precautions in place, passengers should travel safely when flying during COVID-19.

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