Five tips to get you safely through air travel

Contemplating a much-needed break, my family and I weighed the pros and cons of taking an eight-hour road-trip to a beach resort versus a two-hour flight out to our favorite mountain retreat. The logical mind was bent towards a road-trip, as it seemed safer, but being cramped up in a car for eight-hours seemed less appealing, given that we had been cooped up at home for months.

Moreover, Murphy’s Law kept ringing in my ears – whatever has to go wrong, will go wrong. Keeping this in mind, we took the plunge and booked our air tickets. The idea was to be safe rather than sorry, so we followed some self-imposed guidelines, which I’d like to share with you today. I’m hoping they will be helpful.

Go Hands-free

What I mean by this is that the more bags or gadgets you carry with you, the more chances of them getting contaminated. Remember that you will have to empty everything onto trays at the security check. More often than not, the trays are not sanitized and in rotation all the time.

My recommendation is to put your belongings like laptops, tables and chargers into clear bags that you can dispose-off after the security check point and before loading them back into your carry-over luggage.

Eat Only if You Must

Who doesn’t like to grab a cuppa coffee or indulge in a drink before take-off? In fact, I used to look forward to Changi Airport and even the Hong Kong International airport, where the food court served some of the best meals from popular local restaurants.

The flipside of indulging in eating at the airport these days is that you may want to use the washroom after tanking up. Needless to say, its best to avoid public restrooms (and even the one in-flight) and to be honest it can get quite cumbersome to manage your mask, luggage and visor while trying to use the washroom.

My recommendation is to eat well and use the washroom at home. However, do carry some snacks or a sandwich with you so that you can eat something in case you get hungry.

Time to Cash-in Your Lounge Access

This is the best time to cash in your Visa or Master Card for lounge access. We all know that both business and leisure travel have plummeted, and this is the reason why lounges are relatively empty than before. It is easy to find space and park yourself in a niche, without getting into anyone’s way.

Lounge access was very helpful for me, as I managed to follow social distancing, and was pleasantly surprised to see the buffet service functional. It’s no longer self-service though, there is an attendant filling up your plate for you instead.

The Middle

If you are traveling alone, do yourself a favor and invest in an aisle or window seat and avoid the middle seat completely. Most airlines are no longer following the social distancing norm and are instead handing out PPE kits to those in the middle seat. As a family of four, we reserved two aisle, one middle and one window seat, so this was the perfect arrangement.

Wearing a PPE kit in-flight is nasty and uncomfortable. Despite the air-conditioning, you can feel hot and irritable, as wearing the paraphernalia is not the easiest thing. The gown fits flimsy, fastening your seatbelt can be a task, and god forbid in an emergency, I wonder if I will remember what the new protocol is – evacuate with the gown on, or without it!

The New Airport Look

Old clothes is the new Airport Look! Gone are the days when you planned an Airport Look to differentiate yourself from the crowd. Given that you are in an enclosed space for a couple of hours with co-passengers, it is my recommendation to wear old clothes that you don’t mind disposing off or washing immediately as you land and get home.

I typically practice disposing my clothes when I have to go to the hospital for my checkups, and I think it makes complete sense to use this for air travel as well. The least you can do is to pre-soak the clothes in a disinfecting solution and then load them into the washing machine.

After my recent travel, I have come to realize that we need to be practical in our approach and not get stressed about the travel. Simply do your bit and forget about policing others about social distancing and sanitizing at every step of the way. Lastly, keep your hands in your pocket, so that you can avoid touching surfaces unnecessarily. If you have any travel tips, do share with me in the comments below. I hope these tips are helpful.