Coronavirus Tips for Travelers
Friday, March 13, 2020
First of all, it’s helpful to know that the virus is not transmitted through skin. It can only enter your body through your eyes, nose and mouth (mucus membranes). This means the biggest threat to you is – you. If you touch a contaminated surface, and then touch your mouth, eyes or nose, you have introduced the virus to your system.
First things first – be sure your scheduled flight hasn’t been cancelled. Airlines have cancelled a number of flights and have put a hold on certain destinations, particularly overseas.
If you’re flying domestically, but decide to postpone or cancel your flight, much will depend on the airline. While Southwest has never charged a fee to change or cancel a flight, most other airlines do under normal conditions. Currently, a number of airlines are adjusting their policies to be more flyer-friendly, so do a little research before booking a flight, or contact your carrier if you’re already scheduled and need to make a change.
On the Plane
Once you’re on the plane, be mindful of anyone coughing or sneezing around you.
Although the airlines are hyper-conscious of cleaning now, it won’t hurt to wipe down your seat, arm rests, and tray table with a product like Purell, Lysol or Clorox wipes. Wipe your own tech products, too, before setting them down on the tray table. This also applies to tables and counters in airport bars and restaurants.
Use a Bluetooth headset if possible to keep your phone away from your face in between cleanings.
If you can, bring your own snacks and beverages onto the plane. The products distributed by the crew should be fine, but it’s best to limit touches between you and others.
Wash your hands well:
- Wet with clean water
- Apply soap and rub all over your hands, including between your fingers and under your nails. Do this for at least 20 seconds (Hum “Row, row, row your boat” three times if it helps!)
Do not use a communal towel to dry. If individual towels are not available, air drying is best.
Even though hotels should be doing the heavy lifting when it comes to keeping rooms clean, it’s not a bad idea to use a disinfecting wipe or two on hard surfaces, phones, clocks, TV remotes, light switches, and similar items when you arrive. Again, be very mindful of your own personal hygiene efforts.
Consider avoiding glasses and cups provided by the hotel – it’s hard to know who placed them and what germs they might be carrying, and these items come into close contact with your face. With any virus, you want to be mindful of opportunities where your hands come in contact with your mouth, nose or eyes.
For the same reason, if you want to feel extra secure, bring your own pillowcase.
If someone else is going to be handling your luggage – at the airport, in a hotel, taking a cab or rideshare – wipe down the handle before touching it, and wash your hands as soon as you can.
If just one person on a plane, train or ship presents symptoms of COVID-19, you could end up quarantined. What does that mean, exactly? What are your rights?
Some travel insurance will cover a quarantine; some won’t.
Additional variables can tilt the decision. If you self-quarantine in Europe, and aren’t directed to take that action by a doctor or government, you’ll likely foot the bill personally. In many (but not all) cases, hotels are covering the costs of the stays incurred by quarantined guests.
If you are stuck because your flight was cancelled, you may be on your own, although you might be able to persuade the airline to offer some compensation. Again, each case will be different.
Here at home, the CDC determines who will pay for care and treatment, according to Title 42, 70.13 of the Subsection the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations.
Worst case, if you find yourself in quarantine, do not attempt to violate the order. The risk to others – not to mention the fines and penalties, are not worth it!
Many credit cards include travel insurance, but you should dig deeper to discover the specifics of what each covers (or doesn’t). If you’re a MilesAway Business Mastercard holder, you can find the details here.