Is it safe to fly during the coronavirus pandemic?

is it safe to fly
Photo via Official U.S. Navy Page/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
  • The CDC recommends that people avoid nonessential travel 
  • The U.S. appears to have more lax health procedures than others
  • Passengers reported no health procedures in place in some U.S. airports 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that airplanes themselves are relatively safe because of how air circulates and how it’s filtered in an aircraft. But still, is it safe to fly during the coronavirus pandemic?

The CDC recommends that people avoid traveling by plane because of the coronavirus risks that go along with it. For one thing, it’s still possible that passengers could “get stuck” temporarily in another country if the U.S. sees an exaggerated rise in that nation’s coronavirus cases. Then there’s the risk of increasing the spread of the disease in regions that have fewer cases. Plus, news organizations are also pointing out that plane travel, especially in the U.S., might not be as safe as it could be. 

The U.S. is reportedly more lax in its international flight procedures than countries like Taiwan, which said it was shutting its borders to foreigners until a vaccine is found and now requires people with visas or citizenship to fill out a “health declaration” and to self-quarantine upon arrival. 

Meanwhile in the U.S., passengers are supposed to submit a self-report of their medical history, current health condition, and contact information. However, passengers are reporting that, in some airports, not even that lenient procedure is being followed. It seems that in some cases, the U.S. airports are relying on other countries’ outbound health screenings. 

For example, a passenger entering the U.S. from Mexico said her temperature was taken in the Mexico City airport before taking off but that no one asked for her self-reported medical history once she arrived in the U.S. 

But whether it’s safe to fly during the pandemic, the CDC answers the question this way: “Travel increases your chances of getting and spreading COVID-19. We don’t know if one type of travel is safer than others; however, airports, bus stations, train stations, and rest stops are all places travelers can be exposed to the virus in the air and on surfaces. These are also places where it can be hard to social distance.”

Is it safe:

Sources: CDC, The Points Guy, Taiwan Bureau of Consular Affairs, Financial Times, Yahoo, Newsweek

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