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How to Practice Social Distancing When You’re Flying

Written by Dave Odegard

This blog post was updated on November 22, 2021.

As convenient as air travel is, there is always an inherent risk of getting sick when you take to the friendly skies. While times have changed and air travel may seem a little more dangerous now because of the increased risk of infection and disease, there are still ways that you can protect yourself when traveling by air. Practicing good social distancing protocols, like keeping at least six feet between you and others, which can drastically decrease your odds of getting ill, may seem impossible when you’re using air travel — but it’s not.

Here’s what you need to do to practice social distancing when flying.

Book to Fly When It’s Least Busy and Not Crowded

One of the easiest ways to reduce your risk of exposure is to fly when there are fewer people around. It is clear that you will limit your exposure to potential infections if you also limit your interactions with other people. When you explore flight deals, keep in mind that Tuesdays and Wednesdays are generally the least crowded days. The worst time to fly would be a Friday afternoon or a Sunday evening when travelers return from weekend trips.

You can reduce your risk even further by picking a time when you are likely to see fewer passengers. Traveling between the hours of 7 am – 8 am or after the evening rush will provide a less stressful travel experience.

Use Contactless Check-in

You don’t need a science degree to understand that you lower your risk of infection if you’re able to complete your travel without touching as many public surfaces. If at all possible, utilize any contactless check-in process that’s available. Through this type of check-in process, you minimize contact with humans and other surfaces that may carry germs.

Many airlines and hotels have put this feature in place to give their customers more peace of mind. Many airlines, for example, will let you check-in online up to 24 hours in advance, allowing you to avoid the cattle call at the airport. If you do your homework ahead of time, it’s easy to work out your options and set something up.

RELATED: Answers to All Your Questions About Contactless Check-in

Stick to the Right Areas at the Airport

Once you have taken steps to utilize the contactless check-in process, you will need to take steps to reduce your interaction with others when you arrive at the airport. Most airports have floor signage to help direct travelers where to stand to encourage the appropriate social distancing. Be sure to do your part by following these directions. You should also avoid congregating as you board the aircraft. If you have no reason to board the plane early, it’s a better idea to wait until the end of the process to step onto the plane. This will not only reduce your time on the crowded airplane, but it will also help you to avoid overcrowding in the boarding area.

Sit in a Window Seat and Try to Stay There

Once you’re on the plane, you can take further steps to reduce your risk of getting sick. You can get ahead of the curve by booking a window seat. If you are sitting on the aisle, you will come into contact with more passengers, increasing the chances that you pick up germs simply by sitting in your seat.

You can also lean on the airplane’s advanced air filtration system to move germs away from your seating area. Simply turn on the overhead vent to the low setting for the duration of the flight. This will create sufficient airflow to move any harmful germs and irritants away from you.

Be Sure to Follow Proper Hand Washing and Face Mask Protocols

In addition to social distancing, it is imperative that you follow the proper hygiene protocols while on the road. Solid personal hygiene starts with hand washing. While warm water and soap are ideal, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer in a pinch. You should also wear a face mask as much as possible, particularly when it is difficult to social distance. Be sure to bring along sanitizing wipes to use on your armrests and tray table. And even with all these precautions, you have to be conscious about not touching your face. All of these steps will work together to help protect you and lower your risk of infection, along with social distancing.

About the author

Dave Odegard

Dave Odegard is an ex-army brat turned internet word person, whose work has been published on Maxim Online, USAToday, Buzzfeed, and more. He is currently the Senior Content Writer at Fareportal (CheapOair's parent company) and spends his free time exploring the wilds of Brooklyn, New Jersey, and Sweden.

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