COVID-19: Tips for Airplane Travel


Before we get into the tips for flying during COVID I want to emphasize how important it is that you carefully examine all aspects before making a decision about whether or not to travel.

After evaluating your risk tolerance and health, you should not leave your home. It is important to think differently now.

I’ve previously written about traveling with COVID-19 testing requirements. It’s important to understand what you’re getting yourself into before you travel.

These tips are solely based on my personal experiences during COVID. These days, things can change rapidly and it is important to recognize that the sky doesn’t always look like it used to.

Find out more about the airline

Delta is currently the only US airline that limits capacity and keeps the middle seat open. There are other options. I have flown with United and American during COVID, and was more impressed by United’s cleanliness.

These policies, along with local regulations, change frequently so I recommend that you thoroughly research the policies and procedures of different airlines before you travel. Planes will fly at maximum capacity, so make sure you are aware of this before you go.

However, I noticed that Southwest, JetBlue and Hawaiian airlines use electrostatic antimicrobial sprays to disinfect their planes.

Asking questions is another good idea. These are some smart questions you can ask your airline before booking:

My Flight Experience During Covid

To travel to Mo’orea I had to prove that I had passed a negative COVID test. Although it was a tedious process, I felt confident that all the passengers on board were COVID-free. Air Tahiti Nui measured my temperature before I boarded the plane. All passengers had passed a PCR test.

Domestic flights are different. They provided sanitizing wipes and made sure that everything was spotless on my United flight. Lucky enough to have single-serving friends who were also my travel companions has been another blessing.

I felt very comfortable on the plane, with no one in my space and a clean toilet.

The airport was a different story. I felt comfortable on each flight, but not so much on the plane.

Keep in mind that not all airline employees have been tested. It was also difficult to socially distance myself from LAX and Phoenix airports. However, San Diego’s main airport is smaller and more crowded than Phoenix so I felt happier there.

The size and experience of your airport will determine how different it is,

Airports don’t have much open space and cleanliness. Social distancing can be a personal decision. While you are required to wear a mask you will never be far from someone who is eating or drinking with their mask on.

How to prepare for your flight

I have spoken before about the importance of carrying carry-on essentials for flying.

Many restaurants and shops at airports around world are closed. It is a good idea to bring your own food to the airport, as there are limited space. You can pack a few quick grab-and-go meals in plastic bags. This will help you save money, reduce your interactions, and give you healthier options. It’s a win/win situation.

Be sure to adhere to the TSA rules when packing. To learn more, visit the COVID travel page of the government and download the My TSA app.

This is a simple way to make sure your bag and you are able to pass security without being stopped. It is not something you want to do – have your bag opened and someone touch it.

What to Pack

Some airlines will provide a mask and hand sanitizer, but I recommend that you bring your own. Air Tahiti Nui provided me with a nice kit, which I was able add to my PPE.

Trust me, you cannot have enough hand sanitizer or masks when traveling.

You will need clothes to last you two weeks. Also, make sure you have any medications or other essentials you might need to survive 14 days locked down somewhere.

Remember to bring your test results. Before you arrive in the USA, you must pass a COVID test. There are many important aspects you need to know before you take a test.

For a detailed look at the process, make sure you read my Traveling with COVID-19 Test Requirements.

Be aware

Things change all the time so make sure you are aware of any changes in your destination, arrival and any stops along the route. You can expect things to change in a flash.

Be extra careful when you travel. Always wear your mask. Experts recommend double-up on masks or using a combination mask and a face shield. Do not be afraid to go overboard.

Never before has the saying “better safe then sorry” been more true than it is today.

You can touch any object with your elbow or sleeves. After each touch, sanitize the area. You can also avoid touching anything if possible.We had to retest ourselves after our Mo’orea trip. Although I was aware of it, I believe that things change constantly and you should keep up to date if you choose to travel.