As businesses slowly start to open back up and people begin to emerge from their homes, one question weighing on a lot of minds: “Is it safe to fly right now?”. It’s June, which means summer vacation, right? As an airline family (and air travel being the foundation for Family on Standby), we can’t wait to get back in one of those big metals birds again. But we’ve been thinking a lot lately about whether we feel comfortable enough. Or what our timing looks like. So wanted to share our thoughts on whether it’s safe to fly yet and how we’re handling travel during Coronavirus.
But first, it’s hard to talk risk without first talking about what airports and airlines are doing to help customers get from A to B in the safest way possible.
What airlines and airports are doing to combat COVID-19
We actually went over this in depth in one of our recent videos where we share our risk assessment of popular summer activities, so be sure to check that out. But here is a recap of some steps airlines are taking to protect travelers during coronavirus.
Without getting too scientific here (and not being scientists ourselves) these are the cadillacs of cleaning devices. They spray a high grade disinfectant mist, which is really dang good at sticking to surfaces and hard to reach places. You can check out the electrostatic technology, but note that most all U.S. airlines has adopted this in their cleaning process.
Face masks are required on board for most all U.S. carriers at this point – for both flight attendants and passengers. For some carriers, snack and drink services has been replaced by pre-assembled bags to reduce touch points. Middle seats are being blocked in most cases to promote social distancing. And boarding back to front is becoming more frequent to reduce passengers coming into contact with other passengers while boarding.
At the airport there are also different measures to help customers feel safer to fly right now. Touchless kiosks are becoming more of a thing so passengers dont have to touch the buttons on the kiosk (unless you want to use one of these trending touch tool gadgets). Social distancing is being enforced throughout the airport and in lines. Plexiglass barriers are being installed in between agents and passengers to reduce contact. And the TSA is allowing up to 12 oz of hand sanitizer in your carry on (whoa – that’s a lot!)
Do we feel it’s safe to fly right now during coronavirus
You all have different risk tolerances and situations that can help answer whether it’s safe to fly right now. And we are far from being scientists or doctors. So we also take most of our advice from Dr. Fauci and all the other experts out there. But we’ve been getting asked a lot lately when we think we’ll be flying again. So here’s our answer.
I know, that’s a very unfulfilling answer. But let’s break it down a little bit and talk about the factors that will help make our decision and may help you make yours (because it is a very individual decision).
The planes have never been cleaner. But will we have social distancing?
With the electrostatic sprayers that are being used and all the other procedures, we feel very confident in the cleanliness of the planes. Not to mention due to the HEPA filters that are used on board (and are what they use in hospitals if that tells you anything), air is changed every 2-3 minutes. Even the CDC acknowledges most viruses and germs do not spread easily on planes due to the air circulation. The air is cleaner than restaurants and homes. BUT, social distancing can be very difficult on planes and this is why our answer is “it depends”. Because of all the safety steps being taken, we would feel comfortable flying again provided we had a row of three and were separated from other passengers on a relatively empty plane.
One thing to note – most planes these days are pretty empty. The news coverage they show with the crowded planes is maybe 5% of planes. Just had to throw that out there in the interest of both sides of the story being told.
How well is social distancing being enforced in the airport?
For us, it’s less about the plane and more about the airport (as long as planes remain relatively empty). Many airports are taking steps to protect passengers by enforcing masks and social distancing. But with the amount of people coming through the airport, how realistic is it to keep people spaced out? It’s possible, but just like Disney World reopening, we’re waiting to see how well it is enforced.
Are we traveling with kids?
If we were just us two adults traveling, we would feel safer flying right now. Some experts are even saying that because of people focusing on risk of airplanes and airports, they paradoxically may be a safer option than restaurants or swimming pools as people are flocking to those places more frequently without as much thought.
But as two adults, we can take steps to use our judgement and social distance ourselves from others. Especially with the CDC guidance that COVID-19 is not spread easily through surfaces, the main concern is whether you are standing in line with someone at the airport or sitting directly next to them on the plane. With kids, you can’t really control where they run off to, at least 100%. So for us, we’ll likely wait awhile to bring the kids. Older kids may be easier to persuade to follow social distancing, but for a one year old learning to walk, that logic is pretty nonexistent. Though, we did put together some pretty nice tips if you are flying with kids.
Check out our recent video to see what level we put the risk of flying right now with COVID-19. And where we put the risk of other popular summer destinations/activities.
For right now, it’s a wait and see approach. We’re going to try some close-to-home trips (so stay tuned for that!) but that’s more because if not now, when will we ever take these kinds of trips? And if you haven’t yet subscribed to our YouTube channel, when we do fly again, that’s where well be posting our first flight.
For now, we’d like to hear – do you have any upcoming plans to fly? Do you feel it’s safe to fly right now?