Safety First on Planes — the Era of COVID

How to stay safe–or at least to not tempt fate–when traveling in the era of COVID? That, definitely, is a worthy writing topic. I have a little experience to share about this. A few weeks ago I flew roundtrip from LA from Baltimore. I returned home one week ago and am feeling fine, so far, due to planning and good luck. Here are the actions I took to increase my chances of surviving COVID, or Coronavirus, on a plane flight.

* Booked non-stop flights with an airline that blocked middle seats. Southwest is doing so through Sept 30–BUT beware that groups that want to sit together may elect to occupy middle seats.

* Paid “early bird” fee to increase chance that I could get a window seat. Experts say that by sitting in a window seat rather than an aisle seat cuts your potential exposure by 50%.

* My hubby drove me to the airport, which (in addition to saving parking fees) kept me from the riding parking shuttles.

* Wore a thick face mask that I sealed to my face by using medical tape. I did not remove it until I was in my rental car.

* Did not check bags. Placed my small suitcase and backpack each in its own large plastic trash bag. (Brought five bags; used four for the two flights.)

* To resist the need to use the lavatory during the flight, I limited caffeine intake before the flight, and I brought with me a small bottle of water. Drank from it once, midway in-flight. Didn’t accept the open cups of water offered by the flight attendants. Remained in my seat during the entire flight, with the air vent fully open.

* Brought snacks that I could quickly eat out of the package without touching the food with my fingers.

* Once in window seat I wiped down everything that I might touch.

* Never touched my eyes or my ears; washed hands several times in the terminals and used hand sanitizer several times during flights.

* After each flight and while in the terminal, immediately discarded the used trash bags.

* Quickly exited terminal 1 (LAX). Walked past the parking garage to terminal 7 where, at the last car rental bus pick-up in the airport, I boarded the Enterprise shuttle (which allows no more than 12 people on board).

* Reserved in advance a rental car with Enterprise, which has a 20-point disinfectant protocol. (The fumes in the car convinced me that they follow it.) Even so, upon receiving the car I wiped down everything I might touch except the digital screen (which I didn’t touch; some disinfectants ruin smartphone and other digital screens).

* To decontaminate as soon as possible to lessen the chances of sharing germs from the plane with friends and family, I spent my first night in a hotel. From the airport, I went directly to a hotel with strong cleaning and safety protocols and that usually serves more single business travelers than families. (I chose Courtyard Marriott.) First thing in the room: bagged all clothes in the 5th trash bag I brought (and did not open it until laundering at home), immediately showered, and kept shoes by the door (did not track into the room). I wiped down the television remote and all table and counter tops, and handles.

* Took vitamins C and D (as usual) daily.

* Was grateful for good luck, thoughtful and masked travelers, and brave, professional attendants and hotel staff!

Wishing all careful and safe flying–if you must travel!

–Jen Nelson

P.S. I was neither offered nor given anything in exchange for linking to the businesses noted in this post. I am providing these links only as a convenience to readers.

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