With the ongoing pandemic, the majority of the world has stopped traveling. Never in the past century have people avoided airports and airplanes as they do nowadays.
Many experts have deemed airline travel one of the highest risks of infection transmission and virus transportation into other countries and continents. But, what happens when you do need to travel using one of the still working airlines? What is the present situation of air travel, and how can we stay safe on flights?
In the following paragraphs we’ll take a look at what the required personal protective equipment is for air travel, and how should we behave for the protection of others and ourselves. So, if you have a flight coming up, then make sure to continue reading!
Face Coverings Are The Most Important Part Of Flight PPE
For people who are still air traveling, face-covering is the most essential part of personal protective equipment. No airport will allow you to enter the airport premises, not to mention the place without a proper face covering.
Now, when we say face-covering we have to point out that those comprise proper face masks and face shields. Airlines do not allow passengers or people around the airport to wear articles of clothing as a face cover, or masks with an exhaust valve. Some don’t even allow face shields, especially if people wear them alone, without masks.
But, what kind of masks do airlines allow and require passengers to wear? Here are the latest guidelines and requirements regarding face masks and face shields on airports and flights;
Types Of Masks To Wear On Flight
Currently, the only allowed face masks passengers can wear around the airport and on the flight are respirator masks like N95 or KN95, as well as surgical or tightly-woven cotton masks (some airlines and airports do NOT allow cotton masks, so make sure to check this info with your designated airport or airline).
The reason why these masks are required lies in the fact that they are recommended by the CDC and the WHO, regulated and approved by the government health agencies, and of course, because they have a super filtering efficiency.
Respirator and surgical masks have a filtering efficiency of 95% (more or less). They also feature multiple layers, one of which is the hydrophobic layer. This layer provides additional protection against coughs and sneezes, which are the most often carriers of the coronavirus, and other harmful bacterial or viral particles.
Tip: If you’re looking to buy American-made and regulated N95 or KN95 masks for your flight, make sure to check the Protectly collection of respirator masks.
These masks are made in the USA, and the company itself has started in Portland. Nowadays, the company also sells American-made surgical masks, protective goggles, anti-bacterial wipes, face shields, and other PPE.
More to know: 8 Masks (And Other PPE) Made In The USA
Face Shields – Yay Or Nay?
Some airlines and airports recommend their guests and passengers to also wear a face shield over their respirator or surgical masks. However, not every airline company agrees with this practice, stating that face shields are not as efficient as we thought at the beginning of the pandemic. So, face shiels as protective equipment might not work on some flights, so you have to check that info prior to the flight, with the respective airline.More to know: Face Masks Vs. Face Shields: Which is Better? Can I Wear Them Alone?
What About Other Types Of PPE?
Experts do not recommend people wear medical or latex gloves during their daily activities. The reason for this lies in the fact that gloves are not disposed of properly in the majority of cases, nor are they removed or store properly between uses. However, some airline companies do recommend passengers wear gloves (or at least have the option to wear them).
Nevertheless, passengers can wear gloves under the condition that they remove and dispose of them properly (in a plastic bag, or any kind of container that won’t leave the gloves at risk for other people to touch them or mistakenly wear them). Moreover, even if passengers decide to wear gloves, they still need to sanitize and wash them, just as they would do to their bare hands.
Even though goggles are used by health care providers and medical professionals, some recommend passengers on flights also wear them. This especially applies to people who tend to touch their eyes. Goggles, however, are not an essential part of the protective equipment. So far, they’ve been a completely optional choice of protection.
But, if you’re someone who is looking for additional protection, or you tend to touch your face and eyes, then goggles might be a helpful addition to your protective kit.
PPE Travel Kits
It seems that all travelers and passengers are required to carry or receive PPE travel kits. These kits often contain a sanitary seat cover, face masks, pair of sanitary nitrile gloves, sanitary botties, and seat wipes.
In some cases, one can receive a PPE gown included in the kit, but nowhere is it stated that PPE gowns are required for wearing during flight. Gowns may be particularly uncomfortable to wear during flights (especially the long haul ones) since they can cause excessive sweating, discomfort, health issues, etc. Nevertheless, the other items in the travel kit are pretty useful and are recommended (in some cases required) to be used during the flight.
Tip: If you’re looking to buy a PPE travel kit, we recommend you check out Airport-Suppliers PPE Kit for Travelers. This kit contains all of the necessary items, from a seat cover, face mask, to gloves and sanitizing wipes.
What Should Kids Wear During Flight?
Just like everybody else, children older than the age of 2 need to wear face masks while at the airport, and during the flight. The masks should not have any openings in them, exhalation valves, and should not be made of materials like lace, mesh, etc. The mask needs to fit properly on a child’s face, secured under the chin and behind the ears.
Face shields are not permitted for children in place of a face mask. Some airlines don’t allow face shields even with masks, for both adults and children. So, before booking a flight, make sure to check the always-evolving mask and face shield rules for air travel.
When it comes to the flight itself, children are allowed to take their masks off to eat or drink. However, the mealtime should be very brief, and as soon the kid is done, they need to put their masks back on.
As a parent, you need to regularly clean and sanitize your child’s hands, if they’re too young to do that themselves. For older children, try reminding them to clean and sanitize their hands properly and regularly.
Tip: If you’re looking to buy a proper face mask for your child, we recommend you check out the American Mask Project. Here you can choose from an array of great masks, and find the one that will suit your kid the best.
The masks are made in the USA, according to the guidelines presented by the CDC, so you can be sure your kid will be completely safe during the flight.
How To Behave At The Airport And During The Flight?
- If able, try to choose a window seat. Experts believe that reserving a window seat can help you avoid catching viruses and bacteria. On the other hand, aisle seats are more exposed to potentially sick passengers.
- If the trip isn’t of high importance, try to postpone it, or check if you can travel via car, for example.
- If you have preexisting conditions or you belong to a high-risk group of people, try to eliminate the flight until the situation with the coronavirus stabilizes.
- If you decide to travel, make sure to check with the airline whether they have a proper ventilation system, on-board plastic barriers, and disinfecting sprays on the flight. The majority of planes have HEPA filters, which are highly effective in removing both small and large particles.
- Make sure to keep a social and physical distance.
- Wear a respirator or surgical face mask, and other PPE according to the airport requirements or your personal needs.
- Try not to touch any surfaces, and if you do, make sure to clean and sanitize your hands.
- If you do want to take a seat at the airport, make sure to sanitize the seating surface using disinfecting wipes, for example.
- Make sure to bring plastic zip bags where you can keep your passport, ID, and personal items that you don’t want to expose.
- Make sure to wear a clean set of clothes; this means you don’t require a hazmat suit or PPE gown.
- Make sure to wear a clean pair of socks, so that your feet don’t touch the airport flow at security.
- After security, make sure to thoroughly sanitize your hands, as well as prior to boarding.
- Make sure to sanitize your seat on the plane using a sanitizing spray and sanitizing wipes. Your sanitizing gear should contain alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or sodium hypochlorite. Focus on sanitizing the armrests, tray tables, the seat, seat belts, and even the window. Basically, try to sanitize everything that you might touch with your hands.
- Do not take off your mask during the flight; when you want to change your mask (which you should do at least every 4 hours), try to go to the bathroom and safely change the mask there.
- If you’re changing your mask or gloves during the flight, make sure to dispose of them using a sealed plastic bag. Put the mask and gloves inside the bag and consult with the flight attendant about the further procedure.
- After landing, make sure to maintain social distance as you move through the airport. We recommend you go directly to collect your bag and leave the airport, so try not to move around the airport unnecessarily.
The way we travel has drastically changed in the past year. Luckily, there is an array of PPE that we can use to achieve the highest levels of protection at the airport and during a flight.
As long as you follow the requirements and recommendations, you should stay safe. Planes are always thoroughly sanitized and everything is cleaned before and after the flight. So, even though traveling with all the PPE seems terrifying, you can still be sure that your equipment and the airlines will do everything in their power to keep you safe and protected during (and after) the pandemic.