In response to the spread of coronavirus, most airlines have significantly reduced their flight schedule or suspended flights completely. As some countries begin to lift official advisories not to travel, airlines have started to adopt measures to minimise the potential spread of the virus.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have published guidelines to help protect passengers and crew. These guidelines are not mandatory but airlines recognise that the travelling public will be seeking assurances that air travel is as low risk as possible before demand begins to increase again.
Here is an overview of the precautionary measures some airlines are taking to limit the spread of Covid-19 and steps you can take when travelling to make the journey smoother and safer for everyone.
Before You Go
Check your paperwork
Ensure you have any necessary VISA and the required validity on your passport. Find out if your destination may require you to complete a health declaration or locator form as you could be required to present it during boarding or on arrival.
If you are, or have recently, experienced any potential symptoms of Covid-19 don’t travel. Avoid travelling if you have a temperature or feel unwell.
Make sure the airline has your up to date contact details in case of any notifiable changes.
Check in online
Check in using the airline’s app or online via the airline’s website. If you are unable to check in online you should be able to do so at a self-service kiosk in the airport.
Pack as light as possible and, if you can, check bags in to the hold to limit hand luggage. Some airlines have formal restrictions on cabin bags so check with yours before packing.
Prepare some in flight snacks at home to take on board, especially if travelling with children as you may find food choices on board to be limited.
Pack at least one face mask for each person travelling. Remember you should change your mask at least every four hours so if your time at the airport and travelling will exceed this you may need several masks per person.
You should find hand sanitiser stations throughout the airport. Packing a hand sanitiser of your own (less than 100ml) is also a good idea. Using sanitiser along with regular hand washing is said to be more effective than wearing gloves at preventing the spread of Covid-19.
At the Airport
Minimise your time at the airport
Try not to arrive too early. As a guide, arriving around three hours in advance of a long-haul flight and two hours for short haul is sufficient.
Wear your mask
Face masks should be worn within your departure and destination airport and at departure gates. If you turn up for your flight without a mask you could be denied boarding.
Keep your distance
Watch out for spacing stickers or markers to help everyone keep a safe distance apart while queuing.
Expect to be checked for any sign of fever or raised temperature. This could be done with a body scanner or hand-held thermometer. Remember, if you feel unwell don’t travel. You could be denied boarding or refused onward travel at your destination.
Facilities at the airport for food and drink could be limited however bathrooms with handwashing facilities will be available.
Bag drop and collection
Most departure airports will have an area to drop any checked baggage off. Use self-service wherever possible.
Not much is changing when collecting your baggage on arrival so it is important everyone maintains a safe distance apart.
For more details on individual airports visit our UK Airports Information page or select a specific one below:
On Board Your Flight
Many airlines have amended the way you board your flight to make things more orderly and to prevent crowding. Listen out for any instructions as the process may be unfamiliar.
Wear your mask
Masks should be worn while boarding and throughout your flight. Refusal to wear one could result in a travel ban.
Expect cabin crew to be wearing masks and other protective equipment.
Food and drink options on board could be limited so it would be best to pack and bring what you need. If you do need to make a purchase avoid cash, as it may not be accepted. Use a contactless payment method instead.
Stay in your seat as much as possible. Do remember to stretch or exercise your legs and feet regularly to avoid stiffness and to prevent any issues with circulation.