The pandemic has changed the way we travel and hygiene is becoming a top priority for future travellers. As more countries are establishing travel bubbles
and encouraging domestic travel again, we might be able to fly to our favourite destination sooner than we think.
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.
1. Check if you're fit to fly
Safety and hygiene are more important now than ever. Before boarding a flight, passengers need to provide a health declaration stating that they're tested negative for COVID-19.
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. Check the new check-in baggage rule
To minimise surface contact during your flight, most airlines are introducing a new baggage rule, which requires passengers to bring smaller and lesser luggage on board.
- Scootallows a passenger to bring one small piece of carry-on baggage with a maximum weight of3KG. It should also be placed under the seat in front of the passenger.
- AirAsia allows a passenger to bring one piece of carry-on baggage (one laptop bag, one handbag or one small bag) weighing not more than 7KG
3. Use the travel hygiene kit
Credit: Emirates on Facebook
Some airlines such as Emirates and Singapore Airlines are providing passengers with travel kits comprising basic essentials to maintain good hygiene on board.
- Emirates is giving a Travel Hygiene Kit that includes a face mask, hand sanitiser, wipes and a pair of gloves
- Singapore Airlines provides a complimentary SIA Care Kit that has a face mask, hand sanitiser, and anti-bacterial wipes
- Scoot is providing a care kit with items such as antibacterial wipes, hand sanitizer, and a face mask, which will be pre-placed on the passenger's seat
4. Wear a face mask It is now compulsory for all passengers to wear a face mask before, during and after a flight except mealtimes on board.
Most airlines such as Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia, Singapore Airlines, and Scoot do not allow passengers to board the plane if they don't 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.
5. Stick to your assigned seat
Note: This photo was taken before the pandemic and we recommend wearing a face mask during your flight
While some airlines are implementing a no-middle seat policy to maintain safe distance between passengers, other airlines are introducing segregated seating or pre-assigned seats for passengers.
- Scoot is suspending seat selections and inflight seat upgrades. All seats will only be assigned upon check-in
- Singapore Airlines has a dedicated seating zone to separate transit and non-transit passengers. All passengers are also required to stay at the same seat for the rest of the flight.
- Malaysia Airlines will be alternating seats to maintain a safe distance between passengers
It may be tempting to sit closer to your family member and friends during your flight, but we recommend sticking to your assigned seat and avoid seat-hopping to adhere to the airline regulation.
6. 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 trapping 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.
7. Practice safe distancing with other passengers
When you're on board, it's important to maintain a one-meter distance with other passengers, whether you're queuing for the lavatory, getting your luggage at 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 with others.
8. 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, bedsheets, and blankets after every flight. Linens will also be washed at high temperature 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 own neck pillow and blanket, you're allowed to do so. To work around the new check-in baggage limit, bring an inflatable neck pillow, a microfleece travel blanket or a warm shawl.
9. Disinfect your plane seat
Note: This photo was taken before the pandemic and we recommend wearing a face mask during your flightAll airlines will be implementing deep and thorough cleaning before and after the flight, reassuring that hygieneand 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
10. 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 the 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
11. 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.
12. Limit your trips to the toilet
Airlines are also taking the extra step to ensure that the lavatories are clean for public use.
If possible, limit your trips to the lavatory during your flight
- Singapore Airlines ensures that the lavatories are cleaned more often throughout the flight using a high-strength disinfectant
- Scoot states that the lavatories will be regularly cleaned and disinfected, at least three times in an hour
- AirAsia shares that the lavatories will be disinfected with approved chemical
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.
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 countries are establishing travel bubbles and encouraging domestic travel again. If you're planning to fly to a new destination in the coming months, we hope you'll find these other articles helpful too!