As the holidays unfold, many people are preparing to travel across the country to visit family. For most of us, that means hopping aboard a plane for a quick flight. But, air-travel has been heavily scrutinized for safety while the pandemic is still active. If you must fly this holiday season, there are some steps that you can take to make your journey safer.

Is Air Travel Safe?

At first glance, the thought of flying during the covid-19 pandemic seems scary: packing a lot of people into a small space for extended periods of time is a sure way to catch the virus if anyone on board is positive. But, researchers at Harvard say that’s not necessarily the case, and compared the risk of contracting covid-19 on a commercial flight to going to the grocery store or eating at a restaurant during the pandemic.

Generally speaking, air travel is safe as long as mask-wearing is enforced for everyone on the plane and rigorous sanitizing protocols are put into place. To make matters safer, commercial planes have advanced ventilation and filtration systems to circulate air much faster and more effectively than places like grocery stores and restaurants.

Pack Your Covid-19 Necessities

Before going to the airport, be sure that you’ve packed your covid-19 necessities, which include your mask, a travel-sized bottle of hand sanitizer, and a pack of alcohol-based sanitary wipes. When buying hand sanitizer and alcohol-based sanitary, look for products that contain at least 60% alcohol, which is the most effective solution for killing germs and harmful bacteria. Be sure to travel with these items on you at all times while you’re in public.

Wipe Down Your Seat

After boarding the plane, find your seat and wipe it thoroughly with sanitary wipes and give it a second to air dry before sitting down. Try to wipe down areas you may come into contact with during the flight, including your armrest, food tray, headrest, and the backside of the seat in front of you. While most airlines have instituted some sort of sanitary protocols, you can ensure that your space is clean by taking a quick minute to wipe everything down.

Wear Your Mask for the Entire Flight

When you’re on the plane, it’s important that you keep your mask over your mouth and nose for the duration of the flight. It’s okay to quickly lower your mask to take a sip of water, but it’s safest for everyone on the plane (including yourself) if you keep your mask on for the entire flight.

Limit Snacks and Drinks

Depending upon the length of your flight, it can be difficult to sit for more than a few hours without a light snack and some water. However, any time spent snacking is time spent with your mask off, and that greatly increases your risk of contracting and spreading covid-19. Instead of snacking on your flight, try to eat something that will hold you over before you board, so that you won’t be tempted to snack in-flight. It’s perfectly fine to have quick sips of a beverage, just put your mask on immediately after you’ve had a drink.

Remain Seated as Much Possible

Getting up and walking around the plane and talking to other groups of people increases your exposure to others and your risk of contracting covid-19. Instead of mingling about your flight, remain in your seat as much as possible and limit your interactions with other people. If you must stretch your legs, do so in the restroom where you’re alone.

Practice Safer Restroom Hygiene

When using the restroom, consider taking some extra sanitary steps to improve its cleanliness before and after use. Wipe down the toilet seat with alcohol-based sanitary wipes before and after you use it. Be sure to thoroughly wash your hands for at least 20 seconds after you’re finished. Before leaving, wipe down the door handles and the faucet and sink area with your sanitary wipes.

Don’t Travel if You’re Sick

If you’ve recently felt sick, or have tested positive for covid-19 in the past 7-10 days without testing negative, then it’s important to stay home and avoid traveling and mixing with crowds of people. By staying home, you can help protect your community – and the communities that you visit – from covid-19 and flatten the curve in Texas.