Sunday, April 19, 2020

Flying During The Coronavirus Pandemic

Flying now, even in the midst of the current crisis, is as safe as it is on any other day. Planes are cleaner than ever.  People are exercising precautions while traveling and airports are adopting rigorous screening measures to check people entering and leaving their countries.
Nevertheless, there is an increased risk that comes with traveling in the current climate, and it’s not about COVID-19.  The real risk is that you could be stranded a long way from home should the worst happen and all borders close.

The best advice in this situation is to make absolutely sure you have adequate travel insurance in place before leaving home.  Some insurers have started removing ‘travel disruptions’ from their policies, which means you might not be covered for things like hotels and alternative flights if your airline is unable to repatriate you.  Do read the fine print to ensure your policy covers airline insolvencies.  Around 50% of policies will cover the cost of repatriating you or providing accommodation in the event that your airline goes bankrupt.  These are usually the more expensive policies, but worth the investment to ensure you are protected.

Take your own precautions too.  The first thing to ensure is that you’re fit and well to travel.  Get enough sleep, eat well and take exercise to give your immune system all the tools it needs to fight infection.  If you’re under the weather, it’s a good idea to postpone your travel plans, even if you don’t suspect COVID-19.  Most airlines are allowing passengers to reschedule flights for free.

Take hand sanitizer and wipes if they make you feel better; however, be aware that it is not assured that these are effective precautions against COVID-19.  Washing hands with soap and water are by far the most effective method of tackling the virus, so do this regularly at all stages of travel.  Avoid touching your face at all times, and be sure to wash hands prior to eating anything.

On the plane itself, it can be a good idea to pick a window seat to avoid the passing traffic in the aisle.  Wiping down your tray table and seatbelt might help.  Wearing a mask makes you feel more comfortable, you’re unlikely to be alone.

When you’re traveling, listen to the advice of your airline and the staff at the airport around you. Be patient; all the screening and checking of passengers is likely to take more time than usual, at both ends of your journey.  Most importantly, stay calm, as everyone is in the same boat and panic will get us nowhere!

The general advice from all airlines is to avoid calling them unless you’re due to travel in the next couple of days.  This does vary by airline, but the message from all carriers is the same: please stay off the phone lines unless you’re traveling very soon.

If you are concerned about a forthcoming flight, please rest assured that your airline will contact you in the event that your flight is changed or canceled.  Ensure that your airline has your up to date contact details including email and phone number, and check your junk/spam folder for emails regularly, just in case an important message gets filtered out.

Finally, be sure to follow your airline on social media. Channels such as Facebook and Twitter are regularly updated with the latest information, and with things changing on an hourly basis in the aviation world, keeping in touch this way can be a quick means to gathering the most up to date advice.

One source of information you should not be too reliant on is the airline schedule itself.  Airlines are announcing cancellations on a moment by moment basis.  The published schedules can sometimes get outdated.  It takes time to update the displayed information, so if you get a notice from your airline that your flight is canceled, even if the schedule says it’s still operating, don’t go to the airport.

Books by Doris Daily:

Memoirs of an Executive Pilot

Piloten Ausbildung, Jobsuche und Berufsalltag
(in deutscher Sprache - print & ebook)

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