If you’re aching to dig your toes into Caribbean sand or feel the caress of a Mediterranean breeze, you probably can’t wait to set sail again. With businesses slowly reopening and countries beginning to welcome foreign travelers, you’ll soon be able to cross more destinations off your bucket list and satiate your cravings to cruise. Traveling safely during the COVID-19 pandemic is possible, but it requires some extra steps to help you enjoy a healthy journey.
If you cruise with Windstar, you can be confident we are prioritizing the health and safety of our crew and guests, and we are implementing a multilayered strategy to create a safer environment for everyone onboard. However, you might need to fly to your departure port and spend some time at an airport. So, how can you protect your health in the airport and on the plane?
Fortunately, there are many ways to protect yourself and reduce your risk of exposure to viruses and bacteria as you fly. In this guide, we’ll show you how to sanitize your airplane seat and the surrounding space to help you create a safer flight. We’ll also provide tips to avoid germs in the airport and enjoy a cleaner journey overall.
Airport Sanitation Tips: Before You Board
Air travel during the pandemic is going to feel a little different than before. Many airports are following the guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and are doing their part to help keep passengers safe. This means you now may find hand sanitizer stations placed throughout the airport or staff members cleaning high-touch surfaces more frequently.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), specifically, has placed visual reminders on checkpoint floors to help passengers stay 6 feet apart. Also, TSA officers must wear face masks and gloves and frequently clean security screening equipment.
You’ll also want to take steps to protect yourself from germs as you move through the airport. Mainly, you’ll want to limit your exposure to other travelers as much as you can and avoid touching any surfaces you don’t need to touch. If you need to touch something, like a handrail or kiosk, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds afterward or apply a generous amount of hand sanitizer. The CDC recommends hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Here are essential airport travel tips during COVID-19:
- Keep your distance: According to the CDC, the virus that causes COVID-19, called SARS-CoV-2, is mostly transmitted via respiratory droplets that an infected person creates when they sneeze, cough or talk. To keep yourself at a safe distance from others, try to stay about 6 feet apart and wear a face mask. Look for uncrowded waiting areas to help you maintain social distancing.
- Bring hand sanitizer: You might not always have easy access to soap or water in the airport and as you travel, so make sure to bring hand sanitizer with you.Use hand sanitizer whenever you touch a public surface and can’t wash your hands. This includes after you grab your bag from the security checkpoint and before you board the plane. Currently, the TSA allows passengers to bring one bottle of liquid hand sanitizer of up to 12 ounces in their carry-on bag.
- Put pocket items in your carry-on: Before you go through security, clean out your pockets and place items like your keys, wallet and phone in your carry-on bag. This will keep you from needing to place certain belongings in a bin and will minimize handling them.
- Board the plane last: Consider staying near the end of the line when it’s time to board the flight. This will give you greater control over social distancing and help you avoid congested spots as you get on the plane.
If you want to avoid baggage claim areas after you land, you might consider using a luggage shipping service. When you use a luggage shipping service, your bags will be picked up at your home and delivered directly to your ship.
Can I Take Disinfectant Wipes on an Airplane?
You can bring disinfecting wipes in your carry-on bag and your checked luggage, according to the TSA.
What Are the Best Disinfectant Wipes for an Airplane?
The best disinfectant wipes for surfaces on an airplane or any setting are the ones that kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria. You can visit the manufacturer’s website to check if the wipes kill germs, or look at the label.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), coronaviruses are enveloped, which means they are wrapped by a weak outer coating and are easier to kill than other viruses — as long as you use the right disinfectant and follow the instructions properly. The EPA lists disinfectants that work effectively against SARS-CoV-2. Examples include Lysol disinfecting wipes and Clorox disinfecting wipes.
If you can’t get a hold of disinfectant wipes before your flight, you have other options. For example, rubbing alcohol with 70% alcohol kills coronaviruses on hard surfaces in 30 seconds. Just be sure to follow the TSA’s liquids rule if you plan to bring rubbing alcohol on the plane.
Airplane Sanitation Tips: After You Board
You might take comfort in knowing that airlines are also working hard to protect staff and passengers from exposure to germs. Now, most major airlines require passengers to wear masks during the flight except when eating or drinking, and some will not allow passengers to board if they refuse to wear a mask. Airlines are also following enhanced cleaning and disinfecting procedures to reduce the number of germs on the plane. Some airlines provide disinfecting wipes or hand sanitizer to passengers if needed, but you’ll still want to bring your own. To find out what you can expect, visit your airline’s website in advance and see what they’re doing to protect passengers from the coronavirus.
If you’re worried about the air on a plane, know that most U.S. airlines use high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, which remove at least 99.97% of airborne particles. This helps reduce the spread of viruses and bacteria on a plane, but you’ll still want to create as much space as possible between you and other passengers. This will keep you out of the path of a nearby sneeze or cough.
How to Disinfect Your Space on an Airplane
When you reach your seat on the plane, follow these do’s to sanitize your space:
- Sanitize your hands: Use hand sanitizer before you disinfect the spaces around your seat, and be sure to sanitize or wash your hands again after you clean. You might wear disposable gloves as you sanitize the area, but don’t forget to immediately take them off when you’re done, throw them away and wash your hands.
- Wipe down hard surfaces: Wipe down all the hard surfaces you’ll touch, such as the seat tray table, TV screen, overhead bins, remote, latches, air vent knobs and the shade if you have a window seat.
- Follow the instructions: Disinfectants do not kill germs instantly. You’ll need to ensure surfaces stay wet for a certain amount of time for the disinfectants to work. Read the package instructions carefully or visit the manufacturer’s website to find out how long you need to wait. For example, Lysol disinfecting wipes take 10 minutes to kill rotavirus, which is what you’ll want to go by to destroy SARS-CoV-2.
- Bring small plastic bags: Be sure you have a small bag to throw your wipes away after disinfecting the area to keep them from contaminating other surfaces. You might also bring extra plastic bags to keep sanitized and dirty items separate and prevent them from touching other surfaces.
- Open the air vents: After you disinfect the air vent knobs, make sure you keep the vents open above your seat. This will improve ventilation in your space and keep virus particles from floating in the air around you.
- Remember how the coronavirus spreads: At this point, scientists have a better idea of how the coronavirus spreads, and it’s not something that will leap off a nearby surface and land on you. To catch a virus from a surface, you need to get it on your hands first and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Keep this in mind when you clean your space, and avoid touching your face at all times.
Here are a few don’ts to remember:
- Don’t forget to wipe down bathroom handles: Since you’ll have to share a bathroom with others on the plane, you’ll want to bring your disinfecting wipes with you. Wipe down the door handles, latch, flush handle, faucets and any other high-touch surfaces, and use paper towels to touch these areas when you’re done. Make sure to throw out the wipes and paper towels before you go back to your seat, and sanitize your hands again after you leave the bathroom. Keep your mask on in the bathroom too, and turn away from the toilet as you flush, as flushing could send infectious droplets into the air.
- Don’t touch things you don’t need to touch: One easy way to avoid getting germs on your hands is to try not to touch things on the plane. For example, you might avoid flipping through the magazines or reading material found in the seat-back pocket, and bring your own form of entertainment instead.
- Don’t use the seat-back pocket at all: It might be tempting to set your water bottle or book in the seat-back pocket, but you’ll want to avoid using this part of your space. If you want to have easy-to-reach storage in front of you during the flight, consider bringing an Airplane Pocket, which slips over the tray and provides a clean surface and place to store your belongings.
How to Properly Disinfect Your Airplane Seat
There are a few steps you can take to sanitize the seat itself. Follow these tips for sanitizing your airplane seat:
- Wipe down all the hard parts of the seat: Disinfect any hard surface you find on your seat that you might touch.This includes the armrest, armrest controls and seat belt buckle.
- Wipe down the seat itself if it’s nonporous: If your seat is covered with a nonporous material, such as vinyl or synthetic leather, you may choose to wipe it down with a disinfecting wipe. Remember to wipe down the headrest as well.
- Consider using a seat cover: If you’re not able to use disinfecting wipes on your seat, consider bringing your own washable seat cover. If you wish, you might also bring a tray and headrest cover for an added layer of protection. You’ll find plenty of reusable and disposable seat cover options online.
Keep these don’ts in mind:
- Don’t use wet wipes on upholstered seats: You can’t use disinfectant sprays or wipes to clean upholstered furniture as that’ll just make the seat wet and won’t be effective. However, you can bring your own washable seat cover, as mentioned above. Remember, it’s most important to keep your hands clean and avoid touching your nose, eyes and mouth because sitting on germs won’t get you sick.
- Don’t assume you’ll be able to use wipes: Some airlines may request you don’t use disinfectant wipes on their seats because they might cause the material to deteriorate. However, you should still be able to sanitize the hard surfaces around your seat. Check with your airline first for sanitization tips and find out what you can and cannot do.
How to Stay Clean on an Airplane
After you sanitize your seat and surrounding space, and of course — wash or sanitize your hands — you might want to feel refreshed yourself. Here are some inflight hygiene tips to help you feel clean as you glide through the sky:
- Bring your own blanket and pillow: If you tend to get chilly when you fly or plan to nap, be sure to bring your own pillow and blanket and refuse to use anything they might have on the plane. Even though airlines are taking extra precautions to keep passengers safe, you can’t be sure if their blankets or pillows were cleaned properly, but you can feel safe using your own items.
- Remember your deodorant: Put deodorant in your carry-on bag in case you need to freshen up quickly. This will keep you smelling good and feeling clean on a long flight.
- Stay hydrated: Even though you want to limit the number of times you remove your mask, still be sure to drink enough water. See if your airline provides bottled water because you’ll want to avoid drinking tap water on the plane.
- Keep your skin moisturized: Although you’ll want to avoid touching your face on the flight, applying a moisturizing cream to your hands and arms can improve your comfort level. This will help counter the drying effects of the low humidity on the plane and hand washing. Just be sure to choose travel-sized cream, so it passes through security.
- Avoid eating if possible: If you aren’t flying for too long, you might opt to skip snacking. That way, you’ll reduce your risk of touching contaminated surfaces and then touching your mouth. You also won’t have to remove your mask as much or worry about messy fingers or food stains.
Contact Windstar Cruises to Learn More
Sanitizing your airplane seat and the space around you is one way to enhance your comfort on board and reduce your risk of exposure to the coronavirus and other germs. Before you leave for your voyage, think through each step you’ll need to take to get from the airport to your cruise ship, and plan to protect yourself accordingly. This includes bringing clean face masks, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes and planning to stay 6 feet apart from other travelers whenever you can.
At Windstar Cruises, we are committed to the safety and health of our guests and crew members. With the assistance of industry experts, we’ve taken steps to meet and exceed the CDC’s guidelines to create a healthier environment. This includes installing HEPA filters and ultraviolet C lights to clean the air, sanitizing spaces with hospital-grade solutions, offering flexible, outdoor dining options, and expanding our onboard medical staff. You can also expect crew members to wear masks as they deliver attentive, personalized service.
If you have questions about Windstar’s response to COVID-19, please reach out to us — we’ll be glad to update you on everything we’re doing to keep our guests and crew members as safe as possible. If you’re eager to book your next cruise to an awe-inspiring destination, contact a vacation planner today.