What's it like to fly during the Covid-19 Pandemic?


Guatemala plane
Small plane from Guatemala city to Flores, Guatemala.

Some key airports have remained open during the Covid-19 pandemic and now more and more destinations are beginning to open up to tourism. But, what's the airport and boarding experience like during a pandemic?


Is social distancing possible at the airport?

Airport structures and boarding processes have not changed and that makes it very difficult to practice social distancing. With the current pandemic, there are less flights operating at airports, and you'd think that would mean less chances of exposure, but with flights operating at a limited level, most in-airport services like stores and restaurants have also been reduced. Less options equals a higher concentration of people at those airport services that remain open.


The other aspect that hasn't changed much at the airport is the boarding process. There is still a designated gate which invites people to gather in one location. When the boarding process begins, people are still crowding the gate and standing close to each other.


Is social distancing possible on an airplane?

Some airlines are operating at a reduced capacity level. For example, Delta airlines only sell 60% of the seats and they block off the middle seat to help keep people apart. But, there isn't a standard in place. Distancing actions are left to the discretion of each airline.


What is clear is that the process of boarding a plane hasn't changed much. People are still standing very close to each other while boarding. Airlines, however, are placing an importance in wearing a mask at all times. Some airlines are providing free mask to passengers who may not have one with them. (Side note: Honestly if you're going to step foot in an airport or plane, wear a damn mask)


Airlines have also stopped or limited beverage services (with the exception of first class passengers) to help with social distancing. Some airlines are preparing bags with water and a snack for and handing them to passengers as they board a plane in lieu of beverage services on longer flights.


Don't forget the deplaning etiquette. Now more than ever, it's important to stay in your seat, and wait for the people in front of you to get their bags and make their way out before you get up and grab your things. I know there will be that annoying person that just lunges forward with disregard to the unwritten rule of yielding to the person in front of you, but let that person go, and focus on the people like you who get it.


Don't wait to be told how to be responsible in times of Covid-19.

The reality is that airlines and airports can only work with their current procedures and ecosystems in place. And, while I'm sure there will be future modifications to come, the responsibility falls on us to make sure we are being responsible.

  • Hold off on traveling if you don't have to

  • Wear a mask

  • Don't touch a lot of surfaces

  • Be conscious of the amount of distance you're keeping from others

  • Follow deplaning etiquette

  • Bonus: bring a travel size hand sanitizer

  • Bonus: Look up Naomi Campbell's airport routine. She's been doing it since before the pandemic lol.