There are many people right now questioning if it is safe to fly. It is a valid question, but I do not have the answer. For me personally, I have decided not to fly and I probably won’t be in the air for quite some time. Let me share some of my thoughts about the current situation, explain why I am not ready, and provide some advice for those who end up flying.
I love the airline business and it has pained me to watch the industry suffer. Hearing about the financial losses and seeing aircraft lined up in the desert is one thing, but employees losing their jobs is devastating.
For the most part, I think airlines and their employees have done an amazing job tackling this unprecedented situation. They have kept passengers informed on new safety procedures and have promoted the quality of the cabin air. No question this builds trust.
I am less worried about the airlines, but more concerned about the uptick in COVID, the other aspects of traveling, and most importantly: other passengers.
There are some aspects of travel that I don’t think people think about, like getting to the airport. Some passengers will drive and park on-site, but most will need to use some form of transportation: a ride share, taxi, bus, shuttle, subway, etc. Trying to juggle luggage, travel companions, and other travel-related gear can add to the complexity and increase your risk.
Upon arrival, you are likely to find that most airports are making great strides in trying to keep things sanitary, but it can become overwhelming. A large airport might have thousands of passengers, from around the world, roaming the halls at any given time. Personally, I know that after flying for 10-15 hours, my hygiene is not at 100%. I am also pretty exhausted, which makes me more careless to my surroundings.
Probably the biggest concern that I have are masks. I don’t care how you personally feel about them — you need to wear one. It is a requirement to travel; however, there are too many people who feel that they are above the rules and either choose not to wear them properly or not at all. I need to be able to build a stronger trust with the general flying public. I need to know that they will have my back, as I will have theirs.
Other passengers are not my only worry. COVID cases are currently breaking new records daily. The increases are concerning enough that many officials are asking people to re-think their holiday plans and limit or even eliminate travel over the holidays. It is hard because even if someone is super careful over the holidays, you can’t trust that others will do the same.
Don’t get me wrong. I want to fly so badly right now. And not just so I can personally get back into the air, but so that I can start supporting the airline industry again. I genuinely feel bad for the many hardworking airline employees, who aren’t sure what tomorrow is going to bring.
In the end, each person will need to look at their particular situation and decide if they are willing to fly. I know some might not have much of a choice (due to work or family tragedy, etc). If you do decide to fly, be defensive, have a plan (I know a lot of us just wing it), and respect your fellow passengers. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Some airlines are blocking middle seats, some are reducing capacity, others are doing nothing. Pick one that fits your comfort zone.
- Assume nothing has been sanitized and do it yourself.
- TSA will let you take up to 12oz of hand sanitizer through security right now.
- Bring your own food or drinks.
- Respect that anxieties and tensions will be higher for passengers and try to be more patient.
- Have a back-up mask in case you need it.
- Avoid people as much as possible. Don’t hang around the gate and board last. Don’t use lounges if they are busy. Use self-service options at home to avoid any lines.
I am hoping that we can all come together as AvGeeks and do our part to get things back to something resembling “normal.” I don’t think it will be quick and it will likely take additional sacrifices, but I am optimistic!
I would love to know your thoughts and have a conversation in the comments. Are you okay with flying right now? Are there potential concerns that I missed? Are there more tips for people flying right now? If you are not flying, what concerns you the most? Passionate comments are welcome, I only ask that they be respectful.