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Top 10 Tips For Flying During The Pandemic Travelers Need To Know

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We recently flew four different flights after multiple cancellations forced us to change our itinerary. It wasn't the direct flight we had hoped for but we sure did learn some valuable insight to flying during these crazy times. 

Here are the top 10 things we learned from flying during the pandemic and tips you can use for your upcoming flight. 

Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against CDC and government advisories. These are general tips based on our own personal experience of flying during the pandemic. Traveling can increase your risk of COVID-19.

Mask airplane woman

10. Loosen Your Wallet

If there was ever a time to spring for premium economy or business class, now is the time. When it comes to safety, there couldn't be a better investment right now. 

Here are the reasons why an upgraded seat is worth it right now if you can afford the extra money. 

  • Remember the days when business boarded the plane first? That is not a perk during COVID-19. Business now boarded LAST which is what you want. The reason that it's perfect is your at the very front of the plane and nobody will walk by you during boarding. 
  • Business class allows for better distancing and usually a curtain the separates economy and at least 90% of the people on your flight. Even better is lie-flat seats in your own pod which gives you somewhat of a barrier.
  • Bathrooms with less people using them
  • Business class lounge with more space, less people, better social distancing.

9. Boarding Last

Human nature has taught us to rush to the gate and get in line to be one of the first people to board the plane. 

If the upgraded seat was out of your budget, you can still wait to board the plane! Do not board immediately when you are called. This will avoid you getting in line with upwards of a hundred people cramped together with a lack of social distancing. Wait till there are just a few people left to board the plane and then get in line at the end. 

8. Go To The Washroom

Seems simple right? Go to the washroom right before you board your flight in hopes that you can avoid using the bathroom on the plane. 

Do not dehydrate yourself on purpose. Don't skip out on the water just to avoid the toilet.

If you have to use the washroom on the plane, be smart. Bring a tissue to open the bathroom door. Use paper towel for all touch surfaces. including sink handles, flusher, and exit handle. Wash your hands using CDC recommended handwashing guidelines

This is not the time to be removing your mask, applying make up or touching your face. 

7. Plastic Bag Your Carry On At Security

Bring a couple clear plastic garbage bags for security screening. Before you start throwing your bags, purses, belts and cell phones into the filthy bins, put them in a plastic bag first. Then place them in the bins. It's really easy to forget once you get on the flight that you just touched your bag zipper that came in contact with one of the most virus prone areas in the airport

Airplane security bins

6. Be A Clean Freak With Wipes

Before you settle into your seat you have some housekeeping to do. We wipe down all services with disinfecting wipes. You are going to need to bring a couple packages as one little wipe won't do it. Grab two to three wipes and clean every surface around you. Tray tables, arm rests, seat backs, seats, storage areas, seat buttons, TV and even the seatbelt. Make sure you can see the wetness on the surface as you clean. If the wipes dry out, grab new ones.

Wipes on airplane

5. Limit Your Carry on and Belongings

The less things you have to touch and sanitize the better. Most small carry on bags will fit under the seat in front of you. This way you don't have to touch the overhead bins and reduces the number of times you will have to get up during your flight. Bring less personal belongings. The more gadgets, laptops, games, books, bags, purses, etc. you carry on, the more you will have to keep track of sanitizing

overhead bins airplane

4. Eating and Drinking

If you can, do not eat or drink on the plane. Obviously for longer flights, this may not be realistic. If you must eat, ensure you have properly sanitized your hands first. Only remove your mask so that you can put food or drink into your mouth and immediately put it back on. Do not touch the mask itself. There are great lanyards that attach to your mask so you can avoid having to touch your mask directly or put it down on a surface. 

Limit the amount of time you have your mask off to a little as possible. 

3. Leave those vents open

Airplanes have installed advanced air filtration systems that constantly are filtering the air on board the plane. According to the CDC, “Most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes.”

Those small circular air vents above you are bringing fresh clean filtered air.

However the CDC also states that “social distancing is difficult on crowded flights, and you may have to sit near others (within 6 feet), sometimes for hours. This may increase your risk for exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19.”

Tip: Don't forget to wipe down the air vent before touching it. 

2. Sanitizer, Sanitizer, Sanitizer

Bring your own bottle of alcohol based sanitizer.  Once you are on board the plane, regularly sanitize your hands, especially if you are going to adjust your mask, eat or drink. Avoid touching your face at all times

hand sanitizer on plane

1. Masks And More Masks

According to the CDC, masks are now the most important defense in the fight against COVID-19. Masks should be worn in all airports and on the plane at all times. 

All major airlines now require the use of face masks including American, Delta, United and Southwest.

For our own journey, we brought multiple masks with us. We had N95 masks, medical masks and cloth masks. Whenever we felt we were at highest risk, we wore our N95. The rest of the time we wore 3 layers cloth masks with filters or medical masks. That is up to you to decide which type of mask you feel most comfortable with. Airlines will accept any face covering as long as it does not have valves or vents.

my mask on plane
I traveled with multiple masks

As were were traveling for almost 24 hours, we found the mask strings really started to hurt our ears after awhile so it was great to be able to switch masks to something more comfortable. As well if one was dirty or got contaminated we could easily replace it. Don't depend on just one mask and ensure the masks don't have gaps along your face line.

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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling.  Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories


Monday 7th of December 2020

Agree with the first comment of Leon: KN95 (that you need to test first to avoid being fake, quite easy with the water drop test, lighter test) + face shield. And stay 2m far from anyone. And don't be afraid to look paranoid (social pressure forces some people not to protect themselves. Just dont care about that!). As far as Europe is concerned (for inter-Europe flights), business class usually does not offer you much seperation from economy class, and toilets are usually at the front of the plane, shared with economy, which means in most cases Biz class is even worst than economy (as everyone gathers to the front to go to the bathroom, which means standing near biz class seats)... Having said that, I'm still choosing biz class but it offers very little more protection in Europe at least. I would add to simply not touch anything during the entire flight, so for me gels are not that important, as long as you never touch your face (and it's possible if you're concerned. I had a 12 hours flight and never touched my face even once).


Saturday 5th of December 2020

But what everyone wants to know is: where did you fly to?

Trevor Kucheran

Sunday 6th of December 2020

Vancouver, Toronto, Mexico City to Mazatlan


Saturday 5th of December 2020

Great article. Now I know why I should pay less and take second class.

Ernesto de Jong

Saturday 5th of December 2020

Silly. Just plain silly. One should always practice basic hygiene but the suggestions here are more from left leaning politically motivated than any sensible health advice.


Tuesday 8th of December 2020

Hygiene measures during a pandemic are political??


Saturday 5th of December 2020

Great article!