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By Andrea Drever

Content and Editorial Director

Recent studies have shown airplanes aren’t the coronavirus hotbeds you might think they are. Still, if you must board a flight, there are some preventative measures you should still take to keep yourself and your family safe. But fortunately, recent studies have shown airplanes aren’t the coronavirus hotbeds you might think they are. Still, if you must board a flight, there are some preventative measures you should still take to keep yourself and your family safe.

Fly Direct

Limit your exposure by flying directly to and from your destination, if at all possible.

Try to Stick to Carry-On Bags

Though some industry experts argue that passengers should check all bags to speed up boarding and disembarking, there are compelling reasons to limit yourself to just carry-on. Checked bags are handled by about eight different pairs of hands, from the check-in desk to the boarding gate, all the way through to the arrival airport as well. Avoiding checked-in luggage also means you don’t have to congregate around the baggage carousel with lots of other people after you land.

Avoid the Loo if Possible

Use the restroom before you board. And if you need to enter the cramped quarters of the lilliputian lavatory, don’t remove your mask once you’re behind the door because germs can linger in the air.

Wear a Mask and Face Shield

Cabin air is completely changed, on average, every three minutes while the aircraft is cruising. Certified HEPA filters block and capture 99.97 percent of airborne particles over 0.3 micron in size, and are even more efficient for smaller particles. However, this astounding air filtration system won’t protect you from your chatty neighbor. So wear a face mask whenever you aren’t eating or drinking. And bring extras, in case yours gets damaged. Masks with exhaust valves are generally forbidden. Plastic face shields may be worn in addition to masks, but not in place of them. 

Wipe Down Your Area

Bring disinfectant wipes, so you can wipe down anything you could touch—your seat, video screen, tray table, armrests, seat buckles, light switches, air vents and window shades.

Use Hand Sanitizer

The airlines now allow you to bring 12-oz bottles of sanitizer on board, so bring it and use it often and liberally. And make sure it contains at least 60% alcohol.

Bring Your Own Blanket

In many cases, airlines have stopped providing them to decrease possible contamination. If you tend to get chilly, bring your own travel blanket or scarf.

Stay Seated

Those who move around the plane are far more likely to pick up a bug. One study showed that window seat passengers, who move around far less frequently, had a 5% or less chance of coming into contact with an infected passenger. Most had a 0-1% probability, far lower than their middle and aisle seat counterparts who move around substantially more.

Most of us are chomping at the bit to see the friends and family members we miss so much. And when we do get on a plane, hopefully by taking these precautions we’ll have a smooth, safe journey.

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