5 On Your Side

Calls for consistency with airline COVID policies

Posted November 2, 2020 4:27 p.m. EST
Updated November 2, 2020 6:13 p.m. EST

As more people start flying again, they’re noticing how different airlines all have different COVID protection policies.

Some passengers are nervous and concerned with what they’re finding.

When Danny Bush flew this summer, she was appalled to see crowded boarding areas, passengers without masks and a jam-packed flight with middle seats filled.

“I had anxiety the entire flight,” said Bush.

Since her flight, American Airlines tightened requirements for face coverings and now prohibits anyone over the age of two from flying without a mask.

Some airlines make mask-wearing mandatory and block middle seats.

Consumer Reports 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,” says Bill McGee, Consumer Reports’ Aviation Expert.

Consumer Reports says 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.

There are some things you can do to make flying as safe as possible.

  • Ask the airline if it guarantees empty middle seats and how strictly it enforces mask-wearing.
  • Bring extra masks, hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes with you.
  • When you board, clean your space, including the area around you and the air nozzle above.
  • And blast that air from the nozzle directly onto your face for the entire flight.

One expert told Consumer Reports that the safest place on a plane is the window seat, as 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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