Consumer reports: Here's how to fly as safely as possible

ByNydia Han and Heather Grubola via WPVI logo
Monday, August 10, 2020
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As more people begin to think about flying again, concerns about the transmission of COVID-19 remain high.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- As more people begin to think about flying again, concerns about the transmission of COVID-19 remain high, and for good reason.

However, as Consumer Reports points out, inconsistencies in government and airline policies have caused issues, but there are things you can do to make flying as safe as possible.

This past June, Danny Bush boarded an American Airlines flight.

"They put out the dialogue as if they were being very safe and considerate for COVID, but when you arrived at the airport none of those things were happening," she said.

Bush said she was appalled to see crowded boarding areas, passengers without masks, and a jam-packed flight with middle seats filled. Her 20-year-old son has a suppressed immune system, so she takes social-distancing very seriously.

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"I had anxiety the entire flight," she said.

Since Bush's flight, American Airlines said it has tightened its requirements for face coverings and now prohibits anyone over the age of 2 from flying without a mask.

But while some airlines make mask-wearing mandatory and are blocking off middle seats, Consumer Reports has found airlines' COVID precautions are all over the map.

"In many cases the policies are conflicting. So, if you're flying on two different airlines on the same day, you may very well have two different sets of rules," said Bill McGee, Consumer Reports' Aviation Expert.

Consumer Reports said without federal rules in place, airlines won't be held accountable for making their flights as safe as possible.

"The Department of Transportation has not stepped up and has not protected consumers as we believe they should," said McGee.

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If you must fly, here's how to keep yourself as safe as possible.

Before you book, ask the airline if it guarantees empty middle seats, and how strictly it enforces mask-wearing.

Pack extra masks, hand sanitizer, and sanitizing wipes.

When you board, clean your space. Wipe down the area around you, even the air nozzle above.

And blast that air from the nozzle directly onto your face the entire flight.

Bush plans to fly again this month and hopes more people follow social-distancing guidelines this time.

One expert told CR the safest place on a plane is the window seat since filtered air comes in directly above your head. You'll also have fewer interactions with people passing by you in the aisle.

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