It’s finally summer, which means a lot of us are ready to take some much-needed time off from our day-to-day routines. Flights are opening up at historically low prices and travelers are ready to book their vacations. With COVID-19 still considered a pandemic worldwide, the thought of flying can seem scary. However, you can still travel and stay safe if you take the right precautions. Here’s a list of airplane travel tips so you can stay healthy this summer while on vacay!
Ask Yourself These Five Important Questions
Before booking your trip, be sure to ask yourself these essential questions. Knowing the answers may help you plan your vacation more effectively and safely.
- Does the area you’re visiting have a sizable amount of COVID-19 cases? Are the rates continuing to rise?
- Does your destination require a 14-day self-quarantine after arriving?
- What reopening phase is the state in? Will there be places to visit or are most of the tourist spots closed?
- Are you comfortable with the local mandates? Some states (usually in the Midwest) aren’t requiring face masks. Would you be okay with traveling to a place like that?
- Take your age and health into consideration. The CDC advises that older adults and anyone with an underlying health condition avoid travel right now.
Some Airlines and Hotels Are Waiving Cancelation Fees
Something very helpful during these times is that many airlines and hotels have updated their cancellation policies and have been waiving certain fees. If you have become sick and cannot fly, you may have the option to cancel or reschedule.
Delta Air Lines has extended rebooking for two years on canceled flights during the pandemic. With this change, they will not hold travelers responsible for any cancellation fees. Some airlines have been handing out flight vouchers or giving out cash refunds for cancellations. Loyalty programs, like Delta’s, have extended by 12 months the expiration dates for points and miles.
Hotel brands like The Four Seasons, Hilton, Marriott, and Hyatt are just a few that are allowing last-minute reservation cancelations without penalties. They’ve followed suit with airline rewards programs by making sure their members retain their points that would typically expire. They have extended the status and point expirations by a year.
Tip: Keep in mind if you booked through a third party and need to cancel, it may be harder to get your money refunded, so it’s better to book directly with the hotel.
Prepare your Carry-On
Some airlines are handing out complimentary care kits which consist of hand sanitizer and a disposable face mask. It’s still a good idea to bring your own and pack these necessities in your carry-on. Some things I’ll be bringing with me are face masks, disposable gloves, disinfectant wipes, and tons of hand sanitizer for when I can’t get to a sink. Another must-have in my carry-on is packing enough medicine to last my entire trip just in case I were to get sick.
Look After Yourself and Others While Traveling
When taking a flight or staying in a hotel during the pandemic, you must be sure to make protecting yourself and others a top priority. First, clean your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. It’s best to clean your hands after touching any surfaces that are often touched by others. Be sure to wash your hands before and after eating or touching your face. To err on the side of caution, actively avoid touching any part of your face, like the eyes, nose, or mouth. Try to keep 6 feet distance from others where possible. Remember to always wear a mask as this will prevent the spread of germs.
The Safeguards Airports Are Taking
Airports have had to implement stricter cleaning regimens to make the space safer for travelers. Depending on where you’re taking off and landing, these are a few common precautions that are being taken.
- You must scan your own boarding pass instead of handing it to TSA, which minimizes close contact.
- We’re now told to keep our phones, keys, and wallets in our carry-on bags to help reduce contact with the bins at security.
- Passengers are required to social distance and stay at least 6 feet apart.
- Before you board, you’ll go throw a temperature check and thermal scanning to ensure sick passengers don’t board the plane.
- TSA is requiring that all officers and passengers wear face coverings. (Here’s a list of our favorite face masks.)
- Some airlines have gone even further and installed sneeze guards at their check-in counters. They also have added touchless kiosks used to print luggage tags with the use of your smartphone.
- Head to the website of where you’ll be departing and arriving and check out what procedures they’ve implemented.
The Precautions Airlines Are Taking
They have taken many provisions to ensure passengers are safe while flying and they’ve enforced additional sanitation measures.
- They’re boarding in reverse by having passengers with seats in the back enter first.
- Almost all airlines are requiring passengers (unless they’re a small child or have a medical condition) to wear face masks throughout the duration of the flight.
- Most airlines are already using High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, which are effective in removing pathogens on the plane. However, they have also enhanced their sanitation by constantly disinfecting surfaces and using devices to disinfect the cabins.
- Some airlines have tried to help with social distancing by not selling the middle seat and making sure their flights aren’t over 60 or 70% full.
- Emirates Airlines is even creating a “rapid coronavirus blood test” to give before boarding the plane.
- Another precaution that most airlines are taking is limiting food and beverage service in the main cabin. Because of this, be sure to grab a drink at the airport to bring on your flight.
After You Arrive, Clean Your Luggage
To disinfect your carry-on and luggage, be sure to wear gloves and wash your hands immediately after you remove them. Before using a disinfectant spray, bleach, or wipes, clean the surfaces using soap and water. When disinfecting, clean for at least one minute and allow ventilation after application. These solutions are effective for disinfection for up to 24 hours.
For clothing, wash on the warmest setting, and dry the items completely. While doing laundry wear gloves or wash your hands afterward. If you don’t have access to laundry facilities put your dirty clothing in a trash bag and tie it up. Wash once you return home.
What Hotels Are Doing To Ensure Your Safety
Many hotels around the world have enhanced their food handling, disinfecting, and cleaning measures. They also require all hotel workers to wear a mask.
Hotels like Four Seasons are placing hand sanitizer dispensers in restaurants and common areas. They have also put in effect reduced hours for facilities, like pools, gyms, and spas. They’re providing masks and thermometers to guests upon request. Many other hotel brands have redesigned their hotel lobbies to follow social distancing rules, and they’ve been doing multiple daily cleanings. They have also tried to give guests information on activities they can do out of the hotel for reducing the spread of the virus, such as hikes or outdoor excursions. Restaurants inside hotels are also doing more takeout offerings to minimize crowds.
Tip: Before you choose a hotel, it’s a good idea to call and ask what precautions they are taking since mandates vary from state to state. You can also head to their website; here’s a list of well-known hotel brands and their COVID-19 policies. The * next to the hotel means it’s currently closed. Hilton, Marriott, Four Seasons, Hyatt, Loews, W Hotels, InterContinental, Freehand, Viceroy, *ACE Hotel, Warwick, Saguaro, Kimpton, SLS Hotels, The Ritz Carlton, St. Regis, Fairmont, *The Standard, *Line, Crowne Plaza, Sheraton, Lotte, and Omni Hotels.
Even though the world has changed drastically over the last few months, there are still plenty of places we can travel to this summer. The best way to do this is by doing a ton of research before booking. Create a list of questions and call airlines and hotels and ask away. It may seem frightening to hop on a plane, but we can safely resume our lives if we take the proper precautions.
For more on travel, check out souvenir shopping: items to bring back from your trip, how to pack the most into your suitcase, and a comprehensive list of travel-size beauty products.