I've taken over 100 flights in the past 2 years. Here's how I'll travel on planes differently
- The novel coronavirus pandemic has forced me to think about my travel habits as the world prepares to re-open.
- While I normally gave little thought to health and safety when flying, only taking basic measures to protect myself, the topic is at the forefront for me as I prepare to return to the skies.
- Technology makes it easy to avoid human contact but there are also other measures flyers can take to stay safe.
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The novel coronavirus pandemic has changed countless aspects of daily life as social distancing has become the new normal. Nearly everybody has had to change or reconsider what may have once be considered a mundane task whether it be commuting on public transportation or walking down a crowded street.
As an avid traveller, the riskiest part of my lifestyle in a pandemic-ridden world is undoubtedly going to be getting on an airplane. Every time I enter an airport, I'm often touching communal surfaces like check-in kiosks or escalator handrails and exposing myself to potential germs.
The risk doesn't end when stepping on the plane. With airlines seeking to carry as many people as possible on a single flight nowadays, social distancing is a foreign concept or comes with a hefty price.
Though airlines have announced plans to block off middle seats and thoroughly clean their aircraft with new techniques in the short-term, I still plan to create new guidelines for how I navigate airports and travel on airplanes.
Take a look at how I'll be flying in the future once it's considered safe again to do so.
I'll avoid (most) human interaction in the airport
Technology has made it so that a person can fly from New York to Los Angeles without ever saying a word to a fellow human being. While I won't be going that far, I will certainly be relying more on technology when moving through an airport and airplane.
First, I'll avoid likely avoid the check-in counter as most airlines offer mobile boarding passes accessible from a mobile device or the option to print the boarding pass at home. Second, I'll offer to scan my own boarding pass at the security checkpoint, which is simply done by holding it an inch away from the scanner until it beeps and lights up green.
Lastly, I'll also scan my own boarding pass at the gate instead of handing my phone to the gate agent. Again, it's a simple process that involves holding the boarding pass just over the scanner.
In some cases, including flying internationally where a mobile boarding pass isn't available, the need may arise to visit a check-in counter and I'll gladly do so, but will immediately sanitize afterward.
I'll wipe down my airplane seats
Once I'm on the plane and have put my bags away, I'll proceed to wipe down the seat with a sanitary wipe to ensure that all potential germs are eradicated. While airlines are introducing new procedures to clean aircraft, the additional step is more for peace of mind as I don't know who has come in contact with the seat once it's been cleaned.
I'll also wipe down any surfaces that I plan to touch including the in-flight entertainment screen, armrest, and tray table. If it's a day time flight, I'll also make an effort to keep the window shade open to allow sunlight in, which has been proven to kill the coronavirus in minutes.
I'll bring my own travel products and amenities
One of the main differences between long-haul international flights and domestic flights is the amenities that are given to passengers: pillows, blankets, and the cool amenity kits that premium cabin customers receive. While I'd normally use the pillow and blanket kit to create a makeshift bed out of an economy seat for a long flight, I'll now be bringing my own.
The pillow and blanket kits are normally left on top of the seat, exposed to every passenger walking by. Bringing my own will allow me to ensure that they're clean, sanitary, and ready for use without worry.
I'll stick to window seats only
The window seat is often the furthest from the aisle and provides a buffer between me and those walking up and down the narrow corridor including flight attendants and other passengers heading for the restroom. While the aisle seat is more convenient as it allows easy access in and out of the row, it also increases the number of people you can potentially come into contact with who are walking in the aisle.
While I've always been a fan of the window seat, it's now going to be strictly my seat of choice. Also, as previously mentioned, direct sunlight has the benefit of killing the coronavirus; sitting in the window seat means controlling the window.
I'll wash hands way more frequently
I normally hate making pit stops when maneuvering through an airport as I want to get directly from the curb to my gate in as little time as possible. Now, however, I recognize the value in ensuring that my hands are kept clean. Before and after going through security or having a meal, I will be more conscious of how often I wash my hands.
I'll carry travel hand sanitiser as a backup
For the times when soap and water aren't regularly available, I'll also carry a travel bottle of hand sanitiser and use liberally. Pocket size bottles are cheap and are allowed through the screening checkpoint.
I'll be more situationally aware
Travelling can be stressful due to many external factors such as a flight delay, bad weather, or even long lines, making it easy to lose situational awareness. I'm often guilty of going through an airport wearing headphones the entire time and not paying attention, necessarily, to what's around me or what I'm touching.
Red flags are harder to see if one isn't paying attention and with health and safety becoming more of a concern, I don't want to be missing them when I fly anymore. However mundane the process of moving through an airport is, I'm going to make an effort to always be aware of my surrounds and that includes arriving earlier to give myself more time and lower stress levels, as well as avoid anything disrupting my senses.
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