Are you worried about taking a flight? Wondering if the air you breathe inside an airplane is brimming with viruses? Don’t!
The airline business has been one of the most dynamic industries this past year, even though they have suffered tremendously due to COVID-19. Making instrumental changes to its procedures, they have managed to bring back some normalcy to a pandemic ridden world.
The restarting of flights has not only allowed stranded travelers to return home but have helped push back the economy by letting businesses resume their operations.
After months of uncertainties, airlines are now providing holidaymakers, wishing to escape the mundaneness inflicted upon by lockdowns, a trustworthy transport option.
So, is airplane travel safe for everyone, like really?
Yes! However, while airlines are taking all possible precautions to control the spread of COVID-19, passengers also need to be on guard and follow the rules.
The First Step Towards Renewing Air Travel
The business travel community was the first to start flying once airports opened in the middle of last year. After all, a business traveler understands how essential face-to-face communication is in making deals and strengthening relationships.
Initially, a lot of countries required a 14-day quarantine upon arrival. For a business traveler who needs to cover maximum distance in the shortest of time, this was as good as being stuck at home.
That’s when airlines and airports stepped up the game, working along with governments to develop possible solutions for avoiding quarantine. Among the very first measures was the requirement of a negative PCR-test. In the beginning, travelers needed to take the test within 48 hours before boarding to travel during COVID-19. Nowadays, COVID-guidelines for Dubai and cities worldwide accept a test result up to 96 hours before boarding.
Several airports and airlines now offer on-airport PCR-tests, a fantastic initiative, especially for corporate travel where taking last minute flights is the norm.
Airport Measures to Stop the Spread of COVID-19
Checking to see if a passenger has a negative PCR-test is not enough. As the first line of defense, airports, in collaboration with airlines, are busy creating a safe environment by detecting possible virus carriers early on. Temperature checks are done at various airport entry points. Anyone showing COVID symptoms must re-take a PCR-test and stay in quarantine until their result is negative.
Airports follow strict social distancing rules, encouraging passengers to stand, sit, eat, and walk at least six feet apart from each other.
Contactless check-in procedures have reduced unnecessary contact between the staff and passengers.
Airport authorities have cleaners working round the clock, disinfecting common areas and surfaces that are likely to be touched often by passengers.
Masks are compulsory, and most airport shops remain closed.
In-Flight Safety Measures
Leisure and business travelers are typically comfortable in an airport setting because of its spacious nature. However, several passengers agonize over the state of affairs within the airplane.
Studies done on the possibility of virus spread within an airplane have shown positive results. The following reasons explain why flights are one of the safest ways to travel during a pandemic.
Check-in – From contactless check-in and thermal temperature screening to social distancing and wearing masks, airlines have a set of rules they expect passengers to follow before boarding the plane. These act as multi-level steps to detect and remove any COVID-positive passenger before they come in contact with more people.
Seating – The in-flight seating chart differs based on the route’s popularity and the number of people flying. Space permitting, passengers sit separately, keeping at least one empty seat in-between them.
However, to keep costs low, many airlines are flying full. In such instances, all passengers must keep their masks on during the flight. With some airlines, if assigned the middle seat, the passenger must wear a PPE suit for extra protection.
Cabin Crew – Since the cabin crew comes in contact with various travelers, they are at a greater risk of catching and spreading COVID. Airlines thus require them to wear PPE kits at all times, regularly use hand-sanitizers, and limit contact with passengers as much as possible.
In-flight Air Flow – The last thing a traveler should be worried about is the in-flight airflow. It is reassuring to know that cabin air is kept in circulation regularly, with “complete exchange of air in about three minutes,” also mentioned by Lufthansa.
Only 30-40% of the air goes through the filtration process, and that too through HEPA filters. These hospital-grade filters can stop 99.9% of bacteria and viruses. The remaining 60% is fresh air from the outside.
In addition to new air entering the system, the compartment’s airflow is from top to bottom. The air comes in from the sides and moves in a semi-circular path exiting from the ducts in the floor. As a result, passengers do not breathe each other’s air, limiting any possible virus spread.
Airplane Cleaning – The frequency of thoroughly cleaning the interiors of a plane differs from airline to airline. Nevertheless, it is more consistent now and done using various methods to limit any bacterial residue.
Besides wiping off surfaces with disinfectants, airlines either spray or fog the interiors and use high-temperature thermal disinfectants to kill any lingering viruses. The use of UV wandsis gaining popularity as they allow cleaners to reach hard-to-get spaces that might harbor bacteria.
What’s in Store for the Future
The fact that airlines are functioning again hasn’t stopped them from investing money into research and technology with the hope of further making air travel safe.
Airline manufacturer Boeing is already looking into self-disinfecting lavatories that use UV light to make toilets “99.9% germ-free within three seconds after every use.”
The anti-microbial coating on commonly used surfaces is another step under consideration that will make airplane interiors safer to touch.
What can SoldoutNight do?
While airlines are working tirelessly to make travel safe, companies can utilize services by SoldoutNight to further assist their employees through all-in-one travel management.
SoldoutNight takes on a multifaceted approach towards travel planning wherein it can help make flight and hotel reservations and follow-up on refunds while providing multichannel customer service.
Travel during a pandemic should not be a reason for concern, particularly for business travelers. With proper travel management, it is possible to stay one step ahead and continue to partake in a productive work environment while staying safe.
By taking general COVID-19 precautions and letting SoldoutNight handle your travel planning, you can focus on more pressing aspects of your business, removing travel-related dilemmas from the equation altogether.