Is it safe to fly during the pandemic?

As an avid traveler, this is a question I find myself pondering frequently. I have not flown since last March. My last flight was at the onset of the pandemic in the United States. I remember the feeling I had in the pit of my stomach as I was seated next to an obviously sick man. I remember the feeling of landing and answering Covid 19 symptom questions for the very first time. I remember feeling so grateful to be home safe and healthy.

I was happy to be home and knew it would be a long time before I would fly again. As each month passes I realize how much I miss traveling. I find myself wondering – is it better now? I keep hearing about new enhanced protocols implemented by airlines that include disinfecting air crafts, blocking middle seats, mask requirements, etc. I keep hearing about people flying and not getting sick. I see amazing deals on airfare. But is it worth risking your health? Is it worth getting stuck at my destination because I become ill while traveling?

These are all tough questions worthy of deep consideration. I find myself wondering what risks do I take everyday? Trips to the grocery store, dinning out, visiting with family and friends, going to work, getting my hair done, and more. Is flying really any different than those activities? There are certainly risks to all that we do. Perhaps situational awareness is the answer? In other words, if we can be hyper aware of our behaviors no matter where we are or what we are doing the risk of contracting the virus should be minimized.

Considerations to circumstances of the travel also make a difference when weighing in the risk factor. For example, what is the destination you are traveling too? Is it it a red state? Is the airport small or large? What ground transportation will you use when you get there? Will you need to take a taxi or Uber? Perhaps a rental car would be better. You could disinfect it yourself before use, but will you need to take a crowed shuttle bus to pick up your car rental? Where will you stay and what activities do you plan on doing at your destination. If you can examine closely on a step by step (realistic) level the arrangements that you make for your travel can greatly reduce the risk of getting sick.

I don’t have any trips planned. The numbers in the United States are trending upwards. The airlines are doing more now than they have ever done to keep people healthy. Prior to the pandemic of 2020 airports and aircraft were breeding grounds for germs. These improvements are good news for all of us that love to fly. Still, despite taking aggressive precautions the risk of getting sick still exists. It likely will remain this way until there is a vaccine. This is all of our truths every time we leave our homes. For some, even staying home is a risk. It is nearly impossible to eliminate the risk entirely. All any of us can do is be mindful of our daily habits and live the lives we have been blessed with.

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