ANA, a Japanese airline, resumes service to Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport. (Augusto Bernal)
ANA, a Japanese airline, resumes service to Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport.

Augusto Bernal

Flying during COVID-19

How to fly in the midst of a pandemic

December 10, 2020

Travelling has always been a favorite pastime of people around the world throughout history. From the explorers 500 years ago to the common person today, travel has always been popular, especially when flying became popular in the 20th Century. Unfortunately in 2020, travel has come to a halt as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the world. As the world changed, travel, especially flying, did too, as there are now a whole lot of changes and regulations you need to know in order to travel during COVID-19.


First off, there are policies and orders to wear masks at all times except if you are eating/drinking, under two years of age, or have a medical exemption. Pretty much all major airlines such as United, Delta, Southwest, and American enforce some sort of mask policy. In addition, most, if not all airports around the world right now enforce a mask policy, including both Houston airports, so make sure to bring some sort of face covering when travelling. 


Secondly, cleanliness has been a greater priority than ever before. On airplanes, electrostatic sprayers are being used to thoroughly clean them. Some airports, like Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport are giving out free kits with masks and hand sanitizer to travellers in order to promote cleanliness. Even the TSA has caught on, modifying its rules for liquids, allowing one 12oz bottle of hand sanitizer per person, despite its strict liquid requirements when going through airport security.


Thirdly, social distancing. A common term for the past nine or so past months, social distancing is important and effective in stopping the spread of COVID-19. In order to promote social distancing in airports, six feet of space between one another or one family to another is the general rule. On planes however, since most planes are narrow, cramped, and have a three-three seat format, where three seats are on each side of the aisle, the middle seat is blocked off for all passengers with the exception of families sitting together.


Lastly, while applicable for travel in general, many places around the world or even in the United States are requiring a 14-day self-quarantine, or evidence of a negative COVID-19 test. These measures have been implemented for almost all international travelers and certain domestic travelers, like people who plan to travel to Hawaii within the next couple of weeks for example.


All in all, flying has changed rapidly all in a span of nine months. Going from a relaxed environment to a center of rules and regulations, COVID-19 has had a huge impact in terms of what we think of when flying and travelling in general. Masks, hand sanitizer, social distancing, and quarantining are now all necessary in order to fly anywhere. So, this is what you need to know if you ever plan to fly within the next couple of months.


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