COVID and air travel: what you need to know

Since late 2019, the aviation industry has been coping with unprecedented demands imposed by the covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.
As the Delta variant continues to spread, airlines have revised and reinforced their safety measures.
It’s no longer just about packing your shampoo in little bottles or making sure there are no power banks in the carry-on bags. To fly in 2021 (and 2022), you need to be aware of various other safety measures. Those suffering from aviophobia may find the idea of flying during a pandemic overwhelming.
However, flying may sometimes be a necessity for professional or personal reasons.
Looking for COVID-19 related information before your next flight? Check out the SimpliFly app for Apple and Android devices and get every question answered!
Below is key information related to COVID-19 and air travel. For a more technical explanation you can look at this article.

What to expect at the airport

Airports have undergone significant changes since the onset of the pandemic. Ken Pearson, an airline captain, listed just a few of the major efforts to minimize spreading the virus: “Mask enforcement, reduction in the density of people at the airport, and disinfection measures have greatly contributed to safer air travel in the pandemic.”
Avoid touching surfaces and wear a mask all the time. When you do inevitably touch a surface, use a hand sanitizer that has more than 70% isopropyl alcohol.
If you are immunocompromised, consider wearing surgical gloves during your journey and keep a safe distance from other people—at the airport, inside the bus, at the gate, and after you’ve boarded the plane.
What is the probability of contracting COVID-19 on an aircraft
Air travel in the new normal Image by rawpixel.com
Is it safe to be in a plane?
A common misconception held by frequent flyers is that since an airplane is a closed space with hundreds of passengers on board, it’s highly likely that it’s a hotspot for contracting the coronavirus.
On the contrary, a 2020 study by the U.S. Department of Defense found that approximately 99.99% of airborne particles inside the aircraft are filtered out within six minutes thanks to an aircraft’s robust air filtration and ventilation system.
“With such comprehensive safety measures, your stay at the airport and inside the aircraft would be much safer than any other public place,” Pearson said.
However, despite all safety measures, there is a slight chance that someone on board may be infected.
In the same study, DARPA (the U.S.’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) ran 300 tests with over 45 hours on the ground and 38 flight hours.
During each test, 180 million particles were released—equivalent to the number of particles released by thousands of coughs.

Is it safe to be in a plane?

A common misconception held by frequent flyers is that since an airplane is a closed space with hundreds of passengers on board, it’s highly likely that it’s a hotspot for contracting the coronavirus.
On the contrary, a 2020 study by the U.S. Department of Defense found that approximately 99.99% of airborne particles inside the aircraft are filtered out within six minutes thanks to an aircraft’s robust air filtration and ventilation system.
“With such comprehensive safety measures, your stay at the airport and inside the aircraft would be much safer than any other public place,” Pearson said.
However, despite all safety measures, there is a slight chance that someone on board may be infected.
In the same study, DARPA (the U.S.’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) ran 300 tests with over 45 hours on the ground and 38 flight hours.
During each test, 180 million particles were released—equivalent to the number of particles released by thousands of coughs.

Is it safe to be in a plane?

A common misconception held by frequent flyers is that since an airplane is a closed space with hundreds of passengers on board, it’s highly likely that it’s a hotspot for contracting the coronavirus.
On the contrary, a 2020 study by the U.S. Department of Defense found that approximately 99.99% of airborne particles inside the aircraft are filtered out within six minutes thanks to an aircraft’s robust air filtration and ventilation system.
“With such comprehensive safety measures, your stay at the airport and inside the aircraft would be much safer than any other public place,” Pearson said.
However, despite all safety measures, there is a slight chance that someone on board may be infected.
In the same study, DARPA (the U.S.’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) ran 300 tests with over 45 hours on the ground and 38 flight hours.
During each test, 180 million particles were released—equivalent to the number of particles released by thousands of coughs.

What to expect at the airport

Airports have undergone significant changes since the onset of the pandemic. Ken Pearson, an airline captain, listed just a few of the major efforts to minimize spreading the virus: “Mask enforcement, reduction in the density of people at the airport, and disinfection measures have greatly contributed to safer air travel in the pandemic.”
Avoid touching surfaces and wear a mask all the time. When you do inevitably touch a surface, use a hand sanitizer that has more than 70% isopropyl alcohol.
If you are immunocompromised, consider wearing surgical gloves during your journey and keep a safe distance from other people—at the airport, inside the bus, at the gate, and after you’ve boarded the plane.
What is the probability of contracting COVID-19 on an aircraft
Air travel in the new normal Image by rawpixel.com

Dana Grinberg – screen shot from the SimpliFly clips

Dana Grinberg, first officer, summarized the findings. “Even when sitting with a mask, only 0.003% of particles make their way from one passenger to another in the neighboring seat. However, nearly 99.997% of those particles were filtered by the fast airflow and efficient ventilation system of the aircraft.”

It’s safe to say

That the risk of contracting COVID-19 from a sick passenger seated right next to you is low. Masks and shields do play an important role in minimizing exposure.
And if you’re not seated near a sick person, your chance of getting infected is extremely low.

Remember these three golden rules of air travel in COVID-19:

  • Maintain hygiene by using hand sanitizers whenever necessary.
  • Use masks, gloves, and face shields to limit exposure.
  • Keep a safe distance from fellow passengers on board wherever possible.

It’s safe to say

That the risk of contracting COVID-19 from a sick passenger seated right next to you is low. Masks and shields do play an important role in minimizing exposure.
And if you’re not seated near a sick person, your chance of getting infected is extremely low.

Remember these three golden rules of air travel in COVID-19:

  • Maintain hygiene by using hand sanitizers whenever necessary.
  • Use masks, gloves, and face shields to limit exposure.
  • Keep a safe distance from fellow passengers on board wherever possible.