The lockdown was bad enough in terms of social isolation and the inability to see friends. But even after these restrictions have been partially lifted, feelings of constraint persist. One of the most notable ones involves the flying during COVID. We all want to safely enjoy travel destinations and explore new places, but is it safe to fly? Some airlines restrict seating while others don’t. And while all have face mask policies, questions about how readily COVID spreads continues to raise concerns about flying. While personal preferences play a significant role in this decision, there are some facts that are worth considering.
There’s no doubt that the number of people flying during COVID have decreased substantially. On a typical day, TSA saw about 2.5 million flight passengers come through their gates. At the peak of the coronavirus crisis, this figure fell to a meager 87,000. But in recent weeks, a ten-fold increase in airline passengers wanting travel experiences has occurred. Flights, which had previously dropped 77 percent in number, are now only 43 percent below their norm. Whether people believe it’s now safer to fly or simply need a get-away, airline travel is definitely on the rise.
Socially Distancing and Airline Travel
As noted, all airlines now require their passengers to wear protective face masks throughout the flight. Only when passengers are eating and drinking may their masks be taken off temporarily. In fact, all airports now require face masks to be worn at all times as well. While this appears to be a consistent policy, however, various airlines have adopted different policies regarding their middle row seats. Initially, United Airlines was the only carrier that chose not to block out middle seat booking during its travel experiences. But gradually, more airlines are following suit in an effort to remain financially viable.
Based on the latest information, four major airlines are currently keeping middle seats open for its passengers. Southwest, Delta, JetBlue and Alaska Airlines plan to keep these policies in place. Presumably, this makes flying during COVID safer with estimates suggesting this could reduce the risks by 45 percent. But this won’t last. Southwest and JetBlue plan to reopen middle seat booking for travel experiences sometime in October. Delta plans to continue this policy until early January. Therefore, if social distancing is important to you, this information might be helpful.
Some Things Different, Some Things the Same
Certainly, mask and distancing policies will be new travel experiences for those who thinking about flying during COVID. But these won’t be the only changes. For one, some airlines no longer permit carry-on bags for above compartment storage except for premier flyers. That means you’ll be more likely to check a bag when traveling. Also, while places like Vegas and Orlando are still popular locations, wilderness destinations are booming. People feel safe outdoors, and as a result, trips to Colorado, Alaska and other outdoor escapes have become attractive. Notably, fees for these travel experiences have increased as well.
There is some comforting news about fees, however. For one, airfare prices for flying during COVID continue to show the same seasonal drops. From the beginning of fall through Thanksgiving, notable bargains in airline ticket prices will exist as usual. And currently, peak season rates look to be about 30 percent less in price than usual. Travel experts are suggesting booking holiday travel experiences now if you already know your plans as a result. This is particularly important since the variety of scheduling options have clearly diminished. With fewer travelers overall, airlines have been forced to reduce the number of flights they offer.
Some Flying Tips to Consider
If you’re thinking about flying during COVID, there are a few things you might want to consider. If social distancing is important, then you will likely choose an airline that continues to block out middle seat bookings. But other tricks can also be used to help in this regard. For one, if you can fly during off-peak times, it’s likely the flight will be less crowded. Also, online flight seating charts can be a great tool to predict just how busy a flight might be. A little bit of homework before you book your flight can make your travel experiences more enjoyable.
Another important thing to consider is airline flexibility. At the current time, and for the foreseeable future, airlines are being highly flexible in their bookings. Given the changes in the U.S. and across the globe in travel restrictions with COVID, this is understandable. But airlines are also trying to attract customers without giving away too much. Being flexible in terms of rebookings and cancellations is much easier than deep discounts on fares. Even if your ambivalent about flying during COVID now, booking for future travel now might not be a bad idea.
To Fly to Not to Fly During COVID?
Naturally, different people will have different opinions about whether flying during COVID is safe or not. Some people must travel for work or to attend to family emergencies. But in terms of travel experiences unrelated to these demands, the jury is out. Avoiding flying during COVID would undoubtedly be the safest. But many who have been in lockdown are anxious to spread their wings and experience new destinations. This too has important mental health benefits. This is why deciding whether flying during COVID is right for you can be difficult.
From an expert perspective, forty-four percent of epidemiologists surveyed said they would travel by plane within 3 to 12 months. The survey was conducted in early June. Likewise, statisticians suggest flying during COVID carries the same risk as performing regular daily activities for equal amounts of time. If you do choose to fly, the key is taking the right precautions and planning in advance. With the right preparation, you can embark on your travel experiences with the lowest degree of risk possible.
Experiences are one of the Seven Pillars of a Bold Life. For more on them, check out Ed Kopko’s PROJECT BOLD LIFE: The Proven Formula to Take on Challenges and Achieve Happiness and Success.