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How safe is air travel during the COVID-19 pandemic?

So with more and more people wanting to travel abroad this Summer, we ask How safe is air travel during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The risk of contracting Covid-19 during a flight is low. In fact, the risk of contracting Covid-19 during air travel is actually lower than being in any office building, supermarket, or commuter train.

At the airport

Before you board, many airports are implementing a series of testing techniques. These include temperature testing, and asking passengers about any symptoms they may be experiencing. Hygiene at airports is paramount, with vigorous cleaning and disinfection regimes implemented. Hand sanitizers are made available at all contact points to reduce the risk of cross-contamination. Contactless boarding and baggage handling are slowly being implemented.

In the airplane cabin

Most airlines have implemented an extra degree of cabin cleaning. However, there is no guarantee that every surface has been disinfected. It is therefore a good idea to have your own anti-bacterial wipes to wipe over any surfaces where you are located.

HEPA Filters

Modern airplanes are built with the highest quality HEPA air filters installed. These filters are the same used in hospital operating rooms. They are able to maintain clean, purified air that is mixed with outside fresh air and recycled. The air volume is completely refreshed every 2-4 minutes. The air comes into the cabin from the overhead inlets usually above the seats and flows toward the floor where it is expelled via floor-level air outlets. This prevents the air from circulating in the entire cabin. This means there is little airflow forward or backward between rows. Half of the expelled air from the cabin is dumped and is replaced with fresh air from outside the plane. A good tip is to point the overhead airflow nozzle towards your head and open it to its full capacity.

Seating

The very nature of flying in an aircraft means that face-to-face contact is kept to a minimum. The high seats also provide a natural barrier to any air droplets from someone coughing or talking in front or behind you. As most people remain seated most of the time any physical contact is minimised. Risk is also reduced by wearing face-covering throughout the entire flight. Your airline also may allow the middle seat to be empty. This allows for a measure of social distancing. Also, a window seat would certainly help and it would create more distance from the cabin crew and other passengers walking the aisle to use the toilets or accessing the overhead lockers.

Drink plenty of water and you can use nasal sprays to counteract the problem of low humidity within the cabin. Low humidity can dry out your body fluids in your eyes and nose and make it easier for virus particles to enter your body. Keeping yourself hydrated can be a wise defence against infection when travelling.

As with all travel during the covid pandemic, there is surely going to be some risk. However, air travel might not seem such a risk as many believe. Still, adhering to government guidelines on international travel is the safest policy. Also remember, think of the whole trip, not just flying. Be vigilant from when you leave your home to arriving at your destination.

For further information on covid-19 at Gran Canaria Airport you can read the articles in the News section for useful advice when travelling during a pandemic.

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