How safe is it to fly?
How safe is it to fly?
If you checked out any airline’s publicity right now, you’d feel as though they wrapped you in a magic Covid-19-free bubble from the minute you board your flight to the moment you leave. But is this true?
Burt Rodrigues, CEO of Biodx – a supplier of eco-friendly disinfectants – says that it is true, to a certain degree. He notes that, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most viruses and other germs don’t spread easily on flights because of the way air circulates and is filtered on aeroplanes.
“And while you may have an image of empty seats allowing for the correct social distancing, you would be wrong. Virtually every flight in South Africa right now is flying at full seating capacity, given that they’re trying to catch up on lost revenue and there are far fewer airlines operating.”
So, what does this mean for you and the risk of contracting the coronavirus? Rodrigues explains: “The CDC is correct in their comments on air circulation and filtering. The filters used by airlines are medical grade with vertical extraction, which means the air circulates up and out. But that’s not the danger. You are sitting like sardines in a can, touching shoulder to shoulder, leg to leg and your fingers will touch surfaces.
“The secret is to carry your own sanitiser, spray the surfaces you touch and remember not to touch your face until you’re off the plane and can safely either sanitise or, even better, wash your hands with soap and water.”
It is also very important to keep your mask on at all times. Rodrigues tells of a man, at the end of October, who refused to keep his mask on after boarding a FlySafair flight. “The plane simply turned back to the terminal and he was taken off. Hopefully, this now sets a precedent for such behaviour.
“Keeping your mask on throughout the entire flight is essential, at least until we’re at level 0. And eat before you fly, as snacking and drinking onboard is now taboo.” He adds that from the minute you arrive at the airport you have to be super-vigilant.
“There are so many dangerous touch points. The queue to check in, going through the X-ray machines, maybe grabbing a coffee and then boarding the plane – these are all danger points. Keep those social distances. In the end the responsibility lies on you – the passenger.”