In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the “new normal” means a world filled with social distancing and enhanced hygiene. Travel, in particular, is one in which new rules are still catching some holidaymakers out.
However, while at the airport and onboard flights staff are on hand to reitterate guidance, there is one time during the travel experience that an expert suggests is crucial passengers remember that safety may be in their own hands.
Seamus McCauley, editor in chief of Holiday Extras, shared his insight with Express.co.uk.
“Staying safe when flying isn’t just about the flight – you need to consider the journey to the airport and back and the time you’ll spend at the airport as well,” he pointed out.
“Where you can really take steps to protect yourself is getting to and from the airport, and moving around once you’re there.”
The ways in which passengers protect themselves vary depending on the method of transport they are using to get to the airport.
If you’re heading to the airport by public transport consider travelling outside the morning and evening rush hour – you can easily do so by booking an airport hotel the night before your flight and travelling up on an empty train the previous afternoon,” advised the travel expert.
Most public transport is also enforcing its own social distancing rules such as the mandatory use of face masks and leaving some seats empty.
Enhanced cleaning and overnight disinfecting is also taking place on most transit links.
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Once at the airport, most flight hubs are asking passengers to wear face masks from the moment they enter.
Those who are not flying are also often asked to remain outside, such as at Stansted airport.
Meanwhile, most airlines are similarly enforcing the use of face coverings and guarantee enhanced cleaning measures.
“Most airlines have HEPA filters which remove microscopic bacteria and virus clusters with over 99.9 percent efficiency, equivalent to hospital operating theatre standards, use social distancing and PPE for their teams and ask passengers to stow cabin baggage themselves – so the plane is likely to be relatively safe,” said Mr McCauley.
However, many airlines are unable to leave seats empty for the purpose of social distancing.
This is why some experts say that flying and social distancing simply do not mix.
Following a flight from the UK to France, travel journalist Simon Calder said: “I completely sympathise with people if you think social distancing and passenger aviation are compatible.
“I’m afraid that’s wrong.
“But ultimately, are you going to have a certain amount of risk for a view like this? I am.
“I completely sympathise with people who aren’t but I also accept that some people are going to say this is very, very irresponsible but I think we have got to get travel up and working.
“There are so many hundreds of thousands of people who work in the industry in the UK sending us abroad.
“I think its time we started to unlock and live a little.”
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