COVID-19: Here’s How to Travel Safely
August 16, 2021
There has been an explosion of information, comments and opinions on COVID-19 on the internet and social media. We believe that on serious topics in general, and on public health matters in particular, it is essential that you rely on facts and credible, expert information. Our mission at Alea is to bring you the best possible information and advice, so you can make the best choices for you and your family.
Many people are eager to fly again and multiple countries are in talks to develop "travel bubbles" But how safe will traveling be and are there ways to better ensure safety?
What's the issue with flying?
The first concern is being within 2m of an infected person and being contaminated by droplets in the air. The next concern is contaminated surfaces as the virus can survive on surfaces for hours; you could still contract COVID-19 from a passenger on the previous flight as the virus can live on plastic for up to 48 hours.
Do you need medical insurance to board your next flight?
If you are not already covered through work or through an individual insurance plan it is recommended you get covered. Unlike other types of general insurance (business, events, liability) epidemics/pandemics do not constitute a general exclusion under medical benefits. This means you should be covered for both diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19.
That being said, you need to have medical insurance before being diagnosed with COVID-19. If you get insurance once you’ve already contracted it, it could be considered a pre-existing condition and may be excluded from your coverage.
To learn more about COVID-19 and medical insurance read our guide.
COVID-19 measures taken by airlines
Most airlines are enforcing social distancing between passengers and requiring everyone on board to wear masks. Some airlines are even allowing passengers to cancel their flights if it reaches 70% capacity. But as more and more people travel it might become slightly difficult to enforce social distancing.
Cathay Pacific (and Cathay Dragon) has taken multiple measures to ensure passenger safety including the closure of some lounges, the suspension of some on-flight services and additional cleaning and sanitizing of the cabin.
Are airplane cabins the safest confined space to be in?
There are many rumors flying around that you can easily catch COVID-19 from recycled air in airplanes, here's why this isn't true. The ventilation systems in airplanes provide a substantial amount of outside air. Most planes have built-in HEPA filters which are 99.9% effective at removing particles that are 0.3 microns in diameter. Therefore the likelihood of catching COVID-19 through recycled air is very low.
Because of the air filtration and influx of outside air, the inside of a cabin might even be the safest confined space to be in during a pandemic.
Safety measures you can take
The first measure you can take is deciding if traveling is really necessary: Can this trip wait? If you have medical conditions which make you more vulnerable, consider staying where you are.
Obviously you should wear a mask when traveling and sanitize your hands as you would normally. Additional precautions to take are to sanitize your seating area, your tray table and anything else you will be touching at any point during the flight.
Many studies and experiments have shown that eating accelerates the spread of the virus so avoid snacking between the meals provided and keep your mask on throughout the entire trip.
A 2005 study on SARS showed that the virus dried up and was rendered inactive quicker on cotton than on other surfaces. So if you’re worried about tracking the virus around long after your journey, wear cotton clothes preferably covering your arms and legs.
Worried about overwashing your hands? Here’s what you need to know.
What's the best seat on your flight?
The seat in the airplane where you’ll be safest is the window seat. In order to be safe from an infected person you need to ensure that you have a 6 foot radius around you. By picking a window seat you’re cutting that circle in half, making a lot easier to maintain a safe distance from other passengers.
Measures to take after your flight
Once you reach your final destination, make sure you wash all the clothes you were wearing and sanitize all your bags and suitcases.
Most countries currently impose a 2-week quarantine either in a hotel or at home. Some countries may not have as strict regulations on quarantine but you should take it upon yourself to enforce it. By traveling you are exposing yourself to higher risks. Not respecting the quarantine period can put other people at risk.
We hope this quick guide will ease your mind and help you plan your next plane journey. Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter for more!
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This article was independently written by Alea and is not sponsored. It is informative only and not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and should never be relied upon for specific advice.