The pandemic has changed the way we travel and hygiene is becoming a top priority for travellers. While many of us can travel again with fewer restrictions, the COVID cases are on the rise again, with Malaysia reporting a 57.3% increase in Covid cases from Nov 19 to 25 and Singapore's number of estimated COVID-19 infections doubled to 22,094 in the week of Nov 19 to 25, compared with 10,726 in the previous week. If you're travelling during this festive season, you might be wondering, "How do I fly safely during COVID-19?". From wearing a face mask to sticking to your assigned seat, here are some hygiene tips to stay safe during your flight.
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1. Check if you're fit to fly
Safety and hygiene are more important now than ever. More airports around the world are also increasing temperature screenings at various checkpoints and advising all passengers to wear a face mask before, during and after their flight. If you're showing minor symptoms such as cough, flu fever, sore throat and breathing difficulty, it's best to stay home and self-isolate until you're fit to fly again.
2. Wear a face mask
Besides doing our part in keeping other passengers safe, it's also important to wear a face mask to protect yourself from being infected by germs and viruses.
3. Have a medical travel kit with you
If there's one thing the pandemic has taught us, it is to always stay prepared for any unforeseen circumstances, so come prepared with a handy medical travel kit! Some essentials include ART kits, masks, hand sanitisers, tissues, and medications for cough and flu!
4. Stick to your assigned seat
Always keep to your assigned seat, except when going to the bathroom. It may be tempting to sit closer to your family members and friends during your flight, but we recommend sticking to your assigned seat and avoiding seat-hopping to adhere to the airline regulations. You'll also be doing your loved ones a favour when you minimise contact during your flight!
5. Don't worry about the air quality
You can relax and breathe easy as all modern airlines including Singapore Airlines, Scoot, Malaysia Airlines, and AirAsia have a cable filtration system equipped with High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters. What the filter does is trap 99.97% of dust particles and microscopic particles such as bacteria and viruses in the air, so it keeps the cabin air clean during your flight.
6. Practice safe distancing with other passengers
When you're on board, it's important to maintain a one-meter distance from other passengers, whether you're queuing for the lavatory, getting your luggage in the overhead compartment, or sitting next to a passenger. Since COVID-19 can be transmitted through close contact and respiratory droplets, it's best to be mindful of your distance from others.
7. Bring your own pillow and blanket
Some airlines are increasing the wash cycles of inflight pillows and blankets while others are temporarily suspending this service to maintain good hygiene on board.
- Singapore Airlines is replacing all headsets, headrest covers, pillow covers, bed sheets, and blankets after every flight. Linens will also be washed at high temperatures as part of the disinfection process.
- Emirates is providing amenity kits on selected flights only. All mattresses, blankets, pillows, headphones and toys will be hygienically wrapped.
If you're more comfortable bringing your neck pillow and blanket, you can do so. Bring an inflatable neck pillow, a microfleece travel blanket or a warm shawl to work around the new check-in baggage limit.
8. Disinfect your plane seat
All airlines will be implementing deep and thorough cleaning before and after the flight, reassuring that hygiene and passenger's safety are paramount when travelling during the pandemic.
- Scoot ensures that their aircraft undergo a thorough cleaning process before each flight using appropriate disinfectants
- Malaysia Airlines guarantees that the cabins are cleaned and disinfected using aircraft-manufacturer approved disinfectants
- AirAsia ensures that their aircraft undergo a 2-hour disinfection process using cleaning agents approved by the Public Health Authority and the aircraft manufacturer. Before each flight, the aircraft is also sprayed with an aerosol disinfectant.
If you're planning to take the extra step in your hygiene efforts, use disinfecting wipes to wipe down the main touchpoints in your seat. Here are some places you can start with:
- Tray table
- Inflight entertainment screen
- Seat belt
- Window wall
- Seat back pocket
9. Download the inflight entertainment app
For long-haul flights, inflight entertainment is your best friend. Besides wiping down the screen and remote control with disinfecting wipes, you can minimise contact on your touch screen by downloading the airline's app in advance.
- Singapore Airlines encourages passengers to remotely control the inflight entertainment using the KrisWorld feature on the SingaporeAir mobile app
10. Book your inflight meals in advance
To limit contact between passengers and flight crew, most airlines have suspended their in-flight meal service and encouraged passengers to book their meals in advance.
- Scoot has suspended the sale of food and beverages. Pre-packed meals will be placed on the passenger's seat before the flight
- Singapore Airlines has suspended all meal services for flights within Southeast Asia and to China. It'll be replaced with snack bags or a simplified meal service
- Malaysia Airlines will serve personal meal boxes and packaged drinks. Single-use cutleries and towels will still be provided
- AirAsia advised their passengers to book their meals at least 24 hours before departure and all meals will be packed based on strict hygiene standards. The sale of packaged snacks (chips, nuts and chocolates) and bottled drinks will still be available.
If you're more comfortable bringing your own snacks, pack some fruits, biscuits, nuts and other light snacks to munch on.
11. Limit your trips to the toilet
If possible, limit your trips to the lavatory during your flight to reduce contact with high touch surfaces in the plane. If you need to use the toilet, remember to maintain a one-meter distance when queuing and wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before you return to your seat.
12. Bring your pen
If you need to sign travel declaration forms in your destination country, avoid using the stationery at hotel receptions, and airport counters that have passed through thousands of hands. Bring a bunch of pens in your carry-on bag!
13. Wash your hands once you arrived at the airport
No matter how many times you sanitise your hands during your flight, it's best to wash your hands with soap and water. As soon as you disembark from the plane, make your way to the nearest washroom and follow this guide for proper handwashing. Make sure that your palm, fingers, and nails are thoroughly clean to reduce the risk of being infected. Hygiene has become a top priority among travellers as more of us are travelling out. If you're planning to fly to a new destination in the coming months, we hope you'll find these other articles helpful too!