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How To Safeguard Your Health On Flights

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Fear of flying is common among travelers, perhaps more so today than ever before due to the pandemic. Yet, air travel is statistically the safest mode of transportation and continues to be a great option for getting to where you need to go. Coronavirus has complicated life in many ways, but it doesn't need to derail all your travel plans. By taking a few precautions, you can ensure all of your flights are safe and comfortable.

Understand the Airline Industry's Role

Some aspects of air travel are obviously outside of your control. But you can rest assured that the airlines follow strict maintenance protocols performed by meticulously trained personnel. In fact, airline maintenance is highly regulated under international standards established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Another area of concern for many travelers is the harm that carbon emissions can cause to the environment. The ICAO has adopted recommended practices aimed at capping the international aviation industry's net carbon emissions at the 2020 level, preventing any further increase by offsetting them. The Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, or CORSIA as it is more commonly known, is a historic agreement that will help ensure that air travel is safe not only for travelers but also for planet earth.

Do Your Research Before You Go

Before you book your flight, visit the airline's website to get the latest updates on their boarding and seating policies. Some carriers are leaving middle seats or sometimes entire rows empty, while others are boarding passengers from back to front to minimize close contact.

For maximum social distancing, try to book a window seat. Also, consider booking multiple shorter flights rather than a nonstop one. While it may be slightly less convenient, it will lessen your exposure time to any infectious passengers on a particular flight. Shorter flights also decrease the likelihood that you'll need to use the aircraft bathroom and make it easier to keep your mask on since you'll have less need to eat or drink inflight.

Move Safely Through the Airport

Safe flights begin at the airport. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued safety guidelines for travelers with updated factsheets and other helpful information. Some tips include wearing a face mask at all times in the airport, washing your hands frequently, and utilizing the free hand sanitizer stations located in every major airport in the United States.
Keep in mind that many airports have closed most of their security checkpoints as well as restaurants and other amenities, so research what's open before you head out in order to minimize delays and inconvenience.

Keep Your Guard Up Onboard

Once onboard, use hand wipes to disinfect your seatbelt, tray table, armrest, and belongings touched by others, such as your passport. Stay in your seat as much as possible and keep your mask on. You might consider wearing two masks, as some health experts now recommend for extra protection. If possible, refrain from eating or drinking during the flight as it's safer to do so once you can socially distance on arrival at your destination.

Anytime you fly, you should pack a travel health kit and keep it with you in your carry-on bag. Be sure to include any prescription medications you take as well as over-the-counter medicines like antacids, ibuprofen, and cough drops. You should also bring a supply of hand sanitizer; the Transportation Security Administration has made this easier by modifying the liquids rule to allow one 12-ounce bottle of hand sanitizer per passenger. Save room for some disposable gloves, antiseptic, and bandages as well.

The comfort and ease of traveling by air allow you to explore the world in ways that no other mode of transportation can offer. The airline industry has a stellar reputation for maintaining safe aircraft. Guarding your own personal safety on flights is an important responsibility but one you can easily meet by planning ahead and taking a few commonsense precautions.

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