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Is it safe to fly this holiday season? Expert says yes, with the right precautions

Travelers can change flight without fee before Hurricane Laura approaches Gulf Coast, airlines say
Posted at 5:04 PM, Oct 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-22 17:30:49-04

CINCINNATI — October is almost over, which means holiday plans are probably on your mind. Is it safe to get on a plane and fly home this Thanksgiving or Christmas?

A Cincinnati-area infectious disease expert says the answer is yes, assuming passengers practice mask-wearing and social distancing during their journeys.

“As long as everybody’s wearing a mask and at least in the airport area staying socially distant, it’s relatively safe,” said Tri-Health infectious disease doctor Steven Blatt. “They’ve done some studies looking at flights to the Middle East from China where they tested everybody who got on the plane and they knew who had COVID, and there’s hardly been any transmission to other people as long as everybody wears their mask on the plane.”

So what about that “recycled air” that everyone is breathing on a plane? Blatt says it’s all about circulation.

“It circulates the virus out of the airplane through filters so that it can’t come back in,” he said “If there’s no air circulation, the virus would build up in the air around you.”

Air travel isn’t all about sitting on the plane, though. Much of the journey involves navigation through airports. Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport spokesperson Mindy Kershner said CVG is doing all it can to make people feel safe.

“We’ve increased cleaning protocols,” she said. “They’re wiping down surfaces throughout the day.”

The TSA is also allowing passengers to take 12 ounces of hand sanitizer with them through security checkpoints.

In addition to these safety measures, Kirchner said there will probably be less people at the airport in general.

“As people see a surge go up, they might be less likely to travel or to travel by air, and that may affect the numbers that we see coming through our facilities,” she said.

CVG has “Fly Healthy” information listed on its website that states anyone visiting the airport is required to wear a mask.

As for individual airlines, each has different COVID-19 guidelines, so it’s best to check company’s policies before booking a flight.