How risky is flying during the coronavirus pandemic? 5 items to pack to help you stay healthy

Flying can increase your risk of exposure to infection, but airlines are taking some precautions and you can too.

News 12 Staff

Sep 14, 2020, 4:46 PM

Updated 1,397 days ago

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Flying can increase your risk of exposure to infection, but airlines are taking some precautions and you can too.

Air travel means spending time in security lines and airport terminals, which puts you into close contact with other people. As travel slowly recovers, planes are becoming more crowded, which means you will likely sit close to other people, often for hours, which raises your risk.

Once on a plane, most viruses and other germs don’t spread easily because of the way air circulates, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Airlines also say they are focusing on sanitizing the hard surfaces that passengers commonly touch.

Some airlines like Alaska, Delta, JetBlue and Southwest are blocking middle seats or limiting capacity. But even if every middle seat is empty you will likely be closer than the recommended distance of 6 feet to another passenger now that planes are getting fuller.

American, United and Spirit are now booking flights to full capacity when they can. All leading U.S. airlines require passengers to wear masks. Lauren Ancel Meyers, an expert in disease outbreaks at the University of Texas, says that can help limit risk.
For air travel, and all other types of transportation, the CDC recommends washing your hands, maintaining social distancing and wearing face coverings. 
Several airlines announced Monday that they will ask passengers about possible COVID-19 symptoms and whether they have been in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus in the previous two weeks.

These are the five items the TSA recommends you travel with to help you stay healthy:
What to pack in your carry-on or purse:
1. Hand sanitizer
Use this when you can’t wash your hands with soap and water.
2. Disinfecting wipes
Wipe down any surface like seat belts or tray tables; you can also use them to wipe down tables and chairs at the airport.
3. Face mask
According to the TSA you are allowed to wear one when you are screened at security; and some airlines are requiring passengers to wear one.
4. Tissues
Help stop the spread of germs when sneezing or coughing.
5. Plastic bag
Collect any wipes, gloves, masks, etc. that you use when you can’t find a garbage can.
More ways to stay safe:
As always, the TSA asks that travelers remove items from pockets and place them in their bags before going through the security checkpoint, this way they won’t have to go into a bin.
After going through security, it’s recommended you wash your hands with soap and water.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
Avoid close contact with others - keep 6 feet of physical distance from others.
AP wire services contributed to this report.
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