Jet-setters aren’t the only ones who flock to airports and airplanes, these spaces are also a hotspot…for germs! Between the crowds, confined aircrafts, and hundreds of high-touch surfaces, there tons of ways to scoop up an unwanted souvenir in the form of coronavirus.

You may get lucky and your flight could be empty, leaving you plenty of room to keep your distance…or you could find yourself shoulder-to-shoulder with several total strangers. The problem is, you may not know how full your plane will be when you book your ticket! So, unless you can pay to have extra space between yourself and your neighbor, prepare to get cozier with your fellow flyers than you may like. 

Every airline, airport, and flight may be a little different. Because there are so many aspects of air travel that are, well, up in the air. I’d recommend driving to your destination if possible and if you don’t have to spend too many days in hotels. Of course, you’ll want to scrub REALLY well after filling up your tank or using public restrooms. But, driving generally poses fewer coronavirus risks as long as you are traveling with your sheltering-in-place posse (traveling in a car with closed windows hugely increases the risk of COVID transmission). Plus, just think about the memories you and your little ones can make on the open road!

However, if you must fly, here are a few ways to keep yourself and your family as safe as possible:

Wear a mask when flying during COVID.

Coronavirus is mostly spread through the droplets we expel while coughing, sneezing, talking—and even breathing. That means you and everyone in your family over the age of 2 should wear a mask to protect yourselves…and the people around you! It’s especially important to wear your mask on the plane where it’s much harder to keep physical distance, but it’s still important to wear it at the airport (especially when you’re near others).  

Eat at home or at your destination if possible.

Not only does eating require you to spend time with your mask off, but you risk spreading germs every time you handle your face mask to take it off or put it on. Consider bringing a few clean ones to avoid this. Pro tip: Don’t touch the front of your mask to take it off! Your mask is filtering out the virus, meaning that those icky droplets you’re trying to keep out are getting caught in the fabric of your mask. 

Scrub your hands…often to prevent COVID. 

And I mean scrub. To give germs the heave-ho, a quick rinse won’t cut it. You need to vigorously rub them off. Make sure you and your children are lathering up  your hands (or using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol) after touching communal objects (door handles, the faucet, the rail on the escalator, etc.) and before and after touching your face…that includes before and after using your mask. 

Keep your distance when you can when at the airport.

When you line up for TSA or even for the bathroom, make sure you’re at least 6 feet from your neighbors. While you’re waiting for your flight, try to stake out a spot in the lounge away from others. If you must dine at the airport, choose the least crowded eatery.

Wipe down your seat and surrounding area on the plane when flying during COVID.

Though germs sailing through the recirculated plane air are cause for concern, viruses can also spread through touch. Once you’re on the plane, wipe down your seat, tray table, seatbelt, armrests, and anything else your kiddos can get their hands (or mouths!) on. (The best wipes to use are a little DIY magic: fold up some paper towels, stuff them in a zip-lock bag, and douse them with some rubbing alcohol).

If you fly, be prepared to self-isolate or get tested for COVID when you arrive.

Certain states are requiring travelers (particularly from other states with big outbreaks) to quarantine for two weeks or take a coronavirus test to avoid spreading the virus. Be sure to read up before you go to find out if this affects your family. But getting tested upon arrival refraining from non-essential activities isn’t a bad practice, no matter where you’re traveling to and from. Remember, any germs you pick up at home— or in the course of your travels— are hitching a ride to your destination as well. Also, a negative test just means that you are negative the day you tested…that means you can still become infected. So, if you develop any symptoms after a negative test, be sure to get tested again!

Let’s work together to keep each other healthy and stop the spread of this terrible virus!

More tips for keeping your family healthy:

About Dr. Harvey Karp

Dr. Harvey Karp, one of America’s most trusted pediatricians, is the founder of Happiest Baby and the inventor of the groundbreaking SNOO Smart Sleeper. After years of treating patients in Los Angeles, Dr. Karp vaulted to global prominence with the release of the bestselling Happiest Baby on the Block and Happiest Toddler on the Block. His celebrated books and videos have since become standard pediatric practice, translated into more than 20 languages and have helped millions of parents. Dr. Karp’s landmark methods, including the 5 S’s for soothing babies, guide parents to understand and nurture their children and relieve stressful issues, like new-parent exhaustion, infant crying, and toddler tantrums.

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.