— Most of the country is sheltering in place and air traffic has slowed dramatically but there are still people who must fly.With most rest stops, fast-food dining rooms, and other normal travel accommodations closed or limited, flying may seem like a better option for those trying to get home or traveling due to an emergency.The number of people traveling by plane has hit a 10-year low as the aviation industry reels from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Transportation Security Administration.But the main question on everyone’s mind: Is it safe to take to the skies?
Changes that have been made on board
Many airlines have been taking precautions to keep passengers safe since social distancing started. Almost all major airlines are holding or limiting their in-flight refreshments to cut down on contact. Customers are encouraged to bring their own food and beverages on board.
Delta Air Lines is serving refreshments depending on the length of the flight and beverages on all flights are limited to bottled water. Other major airlines are also limiting what refreshments are served.Some airlines take in-flight social distancing to a new level by limiting where you can sit on the airplane.American Airlines and United Airlines are creating distance where available by not seating customers in middle seats and allowing seat changes once everyone is on the plane if someone feels like they are uncomfortable.
Alaska Airlines takes it one step further by offering the chance to cancel or reschedule a flight if they cannot put you in a seat within a proper social distance from other customers.All airlines have been practicing increased sanitation and onboard cleaning. Many encourage customers to bring their own cleaning products as well to make them feel more comfortable and at ease.
So if this calms your fears if you must fly, what about before you even step on the plane?
Changes made in the airports
US airports are encouraging travelers to follow the safety guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including practicing social distancing when it comes to security and other lines.Official travel tips include wearing a face mask, washing your hands for at least 20 seconds frequently, and staying home if you are feeling ill.If you are worried about hand sanitizer, all major airports are offering stations around their terminals for free and the Transportation Security Administration has made an exception to the liquids rule and is now allowing one 12-ounce bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer per passenger.The latest US travel restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic can be found on the Department of Homeland Security’s website.
Many airports have shut down most of their security checkpoints, so make sure you check to see which ones are available.Both Delta and American have closed their sky lounges, so if you were planning to social distance there before a flight, you will need to sit in the main terminal area.Most airport restaurants are closed or running on a limited schedule. Many major airports like Dallas-Fort Worth Airport have provided a list of the open establishments and at what times they are available to customers on their websites.Nashville’s airport is closing bathrooms every two hours for cleaning while Los Angeles International Airport says it is cleaning public areas and restrooms at least once per hour.The CDC cautions against traveling at all during this time, but if it’s needed, be safe by following guidelines and looking up all needed information before you go.