5 On Your Side

Still flying this season? 5 On Your Side shares which flight and seat are safest

Posted November 23, 2020 12:56 p.m. EST
Updated November 24, 2020 10:29 a.m. EST

— Even with a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to limit travel through Thanksgiving weekend, many people will still fly.

While no one expects last year’s airport crowds, some flights may still be crowded.

"Knowing how the airlines operate, particularly this year where it’s been so terrible for them financially, our concern is that they’re going to be maximizing profits by parking aircrafts and not using as many crews, so flights could be fuller,” said Bill McGee, Consumer Reports aviation advisor.

The CDC and airlines maintain that most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes.

Consumer Reports experts are concerned about inconsistent social distancing and mask policy enforcement on planes and inside airports.

“There are a lot of choke points, particularly in smaller and older airports, where social distancing becomes very difficult,” said McGee.

Some airports now use automatic electronic access points, also known as E-Gates. They help reduce points of human contact and ease congestion bottlenecks.

When booking, opt for the earliest flight possible.

"If you’re on a 6:30 a.m. flight, you’re probably going to get on a plane that just received a heavy cleaning,” said McGee.

Also, find out if the airline is booking middle seats. Policies vary.

Either way, Consumer Reports recommends a window seat because there’s less traffic.

And always blast the air above for the entire flight.

It's more important now than ever to make sure your booking is flexible in case you need to make a last-minute cancellation. Those policies also vary significantly between airlines.

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