This post is shared by CarBrain’s COO as part of our sponsored partnership program. It provides useful tips and insights about how to travel safely amidst COVID-19. Enjoy!
Last year, I spent at least 20 out of 52 weeks traveling all over the United States. Most of my travels were for tradeshows or short visits to major metropolitan areas.
As the COO of CarBrain.com, one of my major goals for 2019 was the expansion of our nationwide partner work. So, I know a thing or two about traveling light, being efficient and preparing for business trips.
The hardest part of my trips were always getting through the airports: long lines, security barriers and spending countless hours in the plane next to strangers. For years, travelers like myself have learned how to take these necessary inconveniences in stride to get to where we’re going.
Welcoming in 2020: COVID-19
But then COVID-19 arrived. All the old rules have been thrown out the window, and we need to find new ways to protect ourselves and the people around us when traveling. Convenience is no longer the priority. Safety is.
This year, I’ve only made two trips so far. Both were in the very early stages of the spread of coronavirus. My second trip — to Las Vegas for NADA Convention — was the first time I wore a KN-95 mask in an airplane. In fact, it was the first time I had ever worn a KN-95 mask in my life.
The only reason I wore it was because I promised my wife that no matter what, I wouldn’t expose myself to the novel virus. I had no idea that wearing the mask for hours in a tight space was a near-impossible task.
I also didn’t learn until I got on board that in the entire Boeing 737, there would only be two people wearing a mask on the plane — myself, and the person sitting next to me. I couldn’t tell if that was a good thing or a bad thing, either. Clearly, we as a nation had no idea what was coming for us.
Now that we know more about the virus, its effects and how it passes from person to person, there are new rules to keep in mind for anyone traveling on an airplane. Here are some tips for how to reduce your chance of catching COVID-19 while traveling by plane this year.
Before You Fly
When you’re preparing your carry-on, you’ll need more than just headphones and some light entertainment for the flight (although you should definitely pack your own headphones). You also need to pack wipes, hand sanitizer, a few pairs of gloves and multiple masks for your trip. If you can, bring a face shield too.
Keep in mind that liquid requirements are still in effect, so you shouldn’t bring hand sanitizer in a container larger than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters, and all your liquids should fit into a quart-sized bag.
Before you get on the plane, make sure that the masks you’ve selected fit you comfortably. You don’t want to try them on for the first time when you’re in your seat. Additionally, you’ll probably need to go through multiple masks while you’re on the plane, so remember to bring spares.
Pack all your protective equipment into a plastic bag labeled “new” and bring another plastic bag labeled “used.” You can use this to discard any used wipes, gloves and masks you go through while traveling so you don’t have to awkwardly find ways to dispose of them on the plane.
Finally, you should take a look at your seat options when you’re purchasing a ticket for your flight. If you’re the kind of person who tries to save on airport fees by letting the airline pick a seat for you, it might be time to change that habit.
Instead, pick seats closer to the window when possible. By avoiding aisle seats, you can avoid exposing yourself to the flight attendants and passengers going up and down the aisle. Additionally, always pick direct flights when possible. Layovers will expose you to more passengers and more public spaces, increasing your risk of infection.
If you can afford it, it’s also a good idea to pay for the upgrade of priority boarding. The sooner you can get on the plane, the more time and space you have to clean your area. Additionally, it often means you can get off the plane faster when you land.
In The Airport
There are a few things you can do while in the airport to prepare for your flight. For one thing, you should make sure you use the bathroom before getting on the plane.
Remember to wipe down public surfaces thoroughly with a sanitizing wipe before using the facilities, and always wash your hands thoroughly after visiting the bathroom. Wash for at least 20 seconds before drying.
Another good tip is to purchase a drink from the airport before getting on the plane. This way, you don’t need to take a drink from the flight attendant while you’re on the flight. Remember to use gloves when handling goods touched by anyone else, and wipe down anything you buy to avoid contamination.
While On Board
Before sitting down on the plane, it’s a good idea to wipe down your area with a sanitizing wipe. Make sure to get the seat belts, tray tables, arm rests and the window if you’re sitting next to it. You might need more than one wipe to clean up everything. After wiping, discard your wipes in a plastic bag.
Avoid walking while airborne whenever possible, since it brings you in closer contact with your fellow passengers who might not be following proper safety protocols. The less people you come in contact with, the lower your risk of contracting the virus.
If you’re in need of activity, focus on easy exercises and stretches you can do while in your seat. It might also be a good idea to wear compression stockings if you’re in for a long haul and worried about deep vein thrombosis.
Keep your mask on while you’re in the plane, including when you go to the restroom. Remember to change your mask after using the restroom. If you take your mask off to eat or drink during the flight, you should take the opportunity to change your mask again. If you brought a face shield, it’s a good idea to wear it on the flight to minimize your risk of contact.
Traveling is going to be a different experience for a lot of us in the future. The coronavirus has made us intimately aware of what it means to be sharing such close quarters with a plane full of strangers. That doesn’t necessarily mean air travel is dead, however — it just means you need to take some steps to protect yourself before boarding your next flight.