A few months ago it was impossible for anyone to predict what air travel would come to look like in 2020. Amid the outbreak of the novel COVID-19 countries around the world have imposed travel restrictions, and in some instances, bans.
Travelers are now facing the possibility of international border restrictions and the possibility of lockdowns in a number of countries. The European Union has banned all nonessential travel for 30 days, stating that the repatriation of EU citizens would be arranged when necessary and possible. The US State Department has issued a travel advisory worldwide at the highest level- Level 4.
American citizens who had been traveling and returned to the United States last weekend dealt with the confusion and enhanced screening at airports. The number of flights being made has decreased significantly and there has been a huge number of public area closures.
Contemplating travel right now is incredibly confusing. So what advice are experts giving people to navigate this new and changing time in air travel?
What if there’s a death in your family and you need to fly home?
Your risk for becoming infected with the virus becomes higher the more people that you come in contact with while traveling. If you experience a personal emergency and cannot avoid travel then it’s important to stay informed. Take shorter flights and avoid any connections if you can. If the flight is four hours or less try to stay in your seat for the entire flight. Instead of using the bathroom on the plan opt for the terminal restroom because they’re usually bigger and get cleaned more often.
Are there specific things that you can do on a plane to protect yourself?
Most flights are fairly empty these days so if you can, get a window seat. Sitting in a window seat will help to limit the amount of contact you have with others. Furthermore, wipe down any surfaces that you might touch. That includes armrests, tray tables, lights and the seat itself. If you can, avoid touching anything, even after you wipe it down. Remembering not to touch your face is even more important while flying.
Should you cancel your trip for April or May?
Scientists and doctors have cautiously predicted that the virus could subside in the next few months. Many people are wondering if they should cancel upcoming trips that they’ve booked for months. It will depend on the destination and the date of your trip. Of course, if your traveling is scheduled anywhere in the next two weeks it is advisable to cancel those plans.
However, if your trip isn’t until late April or May don’t rush into making a decision just yet. It’s a good idea to wait until the last day that you can cancel your flight without incurring any penalties. Many airlines and hotels have changed their cancellation policies to offer travelers flexibility as the virus disrupts plans.
Is it safer to drive instead of fly?
While, yes, you may be less exposed to the virus in a car that doesn’t remain true once you get out of it. Nonessential travel should be avoided at all costs. During this time the best thing to do is stay home if you can.