How to stay safe while flying - where allowed - during the pandemic

  • Current lockdown regulations allow for domestic air travel for specific purposes like business and moving homes

  • There are a few easy measures you can take to help reduce your risk of infection while travelling

  • Remember your mask should stay on from the first moment you enter the airport up until you reach your destination

As lockdown restrictions slowly ease, domestic air travel has opened up again for specified purposes - moving house, going to a funeral or for business among others. 

But it can be a daunting journey with the threat of Covid-19 hanging over travellers' heads. From the airport to the plane, there are many risk factors to consider - but as long as you adhere to coronavirus safety precautions, you’ll make it home without bringing the disease with you. 

READ: Physical distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic: Is a 2m gap enough?

Before you leave the house

The most important thing about your entire journey is to keep your mask on from the moment you step into the airport, up until you reach your destination. Ensure you wear your most comfortable cloth mask to make it less tempting to take it off. 

Another important addition to your arsenal in the fight against the coronavirus is a travel-sized hand sanitiser so that you can sanitise as you go. It’s allowed on domestic flights so you don’t have to worry about the size. Also take a sanitising spray for your luggage to spritz after your trip. 

Remember to check-in online - this will minimise interactions with check-in personnel which will handle your identification documents. 

And if you’re feeling ill in any way, please cancel your trip as you might not only put others at risk, but a compromised immune system also makes you more susceptible to infection. 

ALSO READ: Covid-19: What should public transport look like?

Inside the airport

According to measures laid out by Airports Company South Africa (Acsa), entry points to OR Tambo, Cape Town International and King Shaka airports are minimised to make it easier to administer screening processes like temperature checks. 

Some crowding may occur at these points, so just maintain social distancing and give yourself ample time for queues - trying to rush through this process might make you neglect certain precautions. 

Acsa also notes that all bags must be wrapped in plastic to help protect baggage handlers - it might be easier to travel with hand luggage rather than checking in bags. 

Remember to sanitise as you go and every time after you touch a surface - like in the bathroom or after using a trolley - which you should maybe avoid using completely if possible. 

READ: Covid-19 travel restrictions have saved millions of people from being infected, mathematical modelling shows

On the plane

Experts told National Geographic that you’re more likely to pick up the virus standing in airport queues and at the boarding gate than on the plane itself.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) also reiterates this, stating that you’re at more risk of contracting the coronavirus in a shopping centre or at the office than a plane.

Most planes are equipped with High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters that supply fresh air in the cabins and are incredibly effective at removing 99.9% of viruses in the air - including the coronavirus.

Maintain social distancing when boarding the plane, and while planes are disinfected after every flight, with a deep clean every evening like Flysafair, you can add an extra measure by wiping down your seat, tray table and headrest with antibacterial wipes. 

And don’t forget to wipe down the window too if you’re sitting next to it! While flights are generally full and you won’t necessarily have an empty seat next to you, a window seat will limit your interactions with the rest of the passengers who might walk around down the aisle during the flight.  

In summary - wear your mask throughout the journey, hand sanitise as much as possible and keep your distance from your fellow passengers. 

ALSO READ: 4 tips for frequent flyers to prevent back pain

Image credit: Pixabay

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