How risky is flying during the coronavirus pandemic?
Flying can increase your risk of exposure to the infection, but airlines are taking some precautions and you can too.
Air travel means spending time in security lines and airport terminals, which puts you into close contact with other people. As travel slowly recovers, planes are becoming more crowded, which means you will likely sit close to other people, often for hours, which raises your risk.
Once on a plane, most viruses and other germs don’t spread easily because of the way air circulates, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Airlines also say they are focusing on sanitizing the hard surfaces that passengers commonly touch.
Some airlines like Alaska, Delta, JetBlue and Southwest are blocking middle seats or limiting capacity. But even if every middle seat is empty you will likely be closer than the recommended distance of 6 feet (or 2 meters) to another passenger now that planes are becoming fuller.
American, United and Spirit are now booking flights to full capacity when they can. All leading U.S. airlines require passengers to wear masks. Lauren Ancel Meyers, an expert in disease outbreaks at the University of Texas, says that can help limit risk.
For air travel, and all other types of transportation, the CDC recommends washing your hands, maintaining social distancing and wearing face coverings.
Several airlines announced Monday that they will ask passengers about possible COVID-19 symptoms and whether they have been in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus in the previous two weeks.
Still, Meyers said you still might consider whether you need to be on that plane. "We should all be in the mindset of 'only if necessary' and always taking the most precautions we can to protect ourselves and others," she said.
Turkey also started to ease restrictions on aviation as a part of the normalization process amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Turkish airports started to operate domestic flights at the beginning of June and some international flights at the end of the same month.
According to the three-month flight plan, starting in June, Turkish Airlines will fly to 22 destinations in 19 countries, including Canada, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Japan, China, South Korea, Singapore, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Norway, Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, Belarus, Israel, Kuwait, Georgia and Lebanon, with 75 flights a week.
The airline is projected to operate 60% of domestic flights to all destinations, then add more destinations in July and August.
The first flights took off from Istanbul for London and Dusseldorf, followed by flights to Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Berlin and Munich.
Passenger entry into the terminals of Istanbul's airports is now being strictly regulated, with officials checking temperatures at entrances and only allowing those with valid tickets to step inside. As part of the new rules, anyone entering the terminal at the airport will be obligated to wear gloves and face masks. Facility ventilation, cleaning controls and disinfection will also be done at the airport, while hand sanitizers will be positioned at all points of contact for passengers and personnel and thermal cameras will measure fevers of the passengers arriving at the terminal.
Social distancing rules are also being enforced for both passengers and airport personnel as part of the government's "new normal" regulations.
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