Traveling now is difficult, and even impossible in many places. But the borders have slowly begun to open - and vacation abroad this year already sounds like a plan, not just a dream. But how risky is it, and is it even possible to protect yourself from coronavirus on vacation?
Some countries are opening their borders and relaxing quarantine measures, but the question of whether it is safe to travel now remains. The answer depends on many factors: destination, recent statistics on coronavirus cases in a particular place, quarantine measures, and current prevention methods. And while local infection rates will vary from country to country and even within the same country, safety during a flight will apply to all travelers.
Is it safe to fly and book flights this year?
Long queues at check-in desks, airport security checks, waiting for a flight side by side with a crowd of strangers, a few hours in an airplane seat in the same cabin with other passengers - all of this makes you question the safety of flying during a pandemic.
But the good news is that airports and airlines have already adjusted to the new reality. For example, carriers have introduced flexible cancellation and rescheduling rules, and major air hubs are closing some terminals to provide better security measures during the pandemic. There are also far fewer cafes and stores at airports. Some only sell take-away items.
What prevention measures are used at airports?
Anyone who enters an airport building has their temperature checked: passengers, greeters, crew members, terminal staff, and everyone else. In some cases, non-contact thermometers and thermal imaging cameras are used again - just before boarding the flight.
Masking is mandatory in public transport, cabs, airport terminals, and during the entire flight, and sometimes other personal protective equipment (face shields, for example) is also required.
Social distancing rules are followed everywhere. To the extent possible, airlines change the seating arrangement in the aircraft cabins, offer self-check-in instead of check-in at the counters, and rearrange the queue system to keep passengers at a safe distance from each other.
And what about safety during a flight?
The cabins of the major carriers are equipped with HEPA air filters. Some air terminals have introduced one-way traffic through the terminals to reduce the frequency of personal contact between people.
Airlines have also changed their approach to in-flight meals: some carriers no longer serve food on their flights, while others have drastically reduced menus and offer only individually wrapped snacks and canned drinks. It's safer to bring snacks with you from home - just check the airlines' requirements for carry-on luggage.
In case that's not enough for you
Thanks to all of these precautions, there is very little chance of becoming infected during a flight. We can only mention the fact that the above-mentioned HEPA filters capture more than 99% of the particles that enter them (including coronavirus particles). Similarly, the information shows that often the infection onboard is due to the carelessness of the passengers themselves.
But if that's not enough for you, you should consider traveling by car. The car rental industry is also not standing still and is gradually implementing anti-pandemic innovations. For example, at Sixt, a car can be ordered, picked up, and returned without personal contact with managers and agents. The keys are left in the locker, which you access through a mobile app. Of course, you won't get to the other side of the continent in a few hours by car, but you can also discover new or well-forgotten beautiful places in your own and neighboring countries.