Do you have fears about flying during a pandemic?
Sphera Travel recently flew to South Carolina, and we have essential tips for you to fly stress-free during a pandemic. Do you want to know more about TSA guidelines, masks, restaurants, airport food options, coffee, and more? Keep reading below.
Research, Research, and More Research
Now more than ever, it is vital to use a Travel Advisor to research the trip details for you. Not all destinations are opening at the same rate, and things are very confusing as to what is open and what is not. Restaurants at the airports and in the destination might still be closed or have limited seating. It is also essential to research, not only, your final destination but also the connecting cities.
We were delayed on our return trip home from South Carolina, which had opened three weeks ago, and restaurants were mostly open. Still, we got stuck in Charlotte, North Carolina, which only opened one week ago, and we had to do some searching for an open dine-in restaurant. Most of the restaurants within walking distance of our hotel only allowed take-out or delivery.
Do the airlines require you to wear masks?
Yes! Whether you think masks are useful or not, many airlines are requiring them so bring a mask with you. Since some states are at different stages of reopening, it is better to come prepared. The airlines were upfront and made many announcements about needing them for the flights and boarding process. From our experiences, in the airports or lobbies, they were not necessary, but on the actual flights, they were. One other thing, please be patient with the employees who are required to wear them as well.
Pack food for the airports and airplanes.
Most airport food vendors (even if it’s take-out) are not open until 8 AM. If you have an early flight, our suggestion is to eat at home or find a restaurant before getting to the airport as it is not clear what will be open when you arrive. There were zero sit down restaurants open in any airport we saw. Also, the lines were excessively long, even for places like Starbucks.
The airline did not offer beverage or snack service on the flights. We suggest you pack some dry snacks to bring on the plane. Especially if you are traveling with children or have a condition that requires you to eat at regular intervals, also, bring an empty water bottle to fill after you get through security.
TSA Guidelines for carrying on food
Passengers should place their carry-on food items into a clear plastic bag and put that bag into a separate bin. Food items often trigger an alarm during the screening process; separating the food from the carry-on lessens the likelihood that a TSA officer will need to open the carry-on bag and remove the food items for a closer inspection. This requirement allows social distancing, reduces the TSA officer’s need to touch a person’s container of food, and reduces cross-contamination potential. TSA Precheck members do not need to remove items from their bags.
For the full article with all of the updated TSA Guidelines CLICK HERE
One of the best things to come out of these new rules is that people are starting to understand the need for patience. Before the pandemic, many people would crowd the gate during the boarding process, even if they were in the last group to be loaded. Now, people are maintaining a clear walkway up to the gate during boarding or waiting in seats until it is their groups turn for boarding. The same is true when exiting the plane as before the pandemic; many people would stand up and block the aisle as soon as the aircraft was at the gate and stand there for 10 minutes while the crew got everything settled. People are patiently waiting in their seats until it’s their turn to leave the plane.
By doing this, we have found that the boarding and deplaning process is going quicker and smoother, allowing a more stress-free travel experience.
Airlines are currently flying fewer routes and have to balance issues with weather, mechanical problems, and social distancing. There are fewer seats available on most flights. Delays or missed connections may inadvertently add another day to your trip, and you may have a layover in another city due to problems outside of your control. In the past, if a plane had a mechanical issue, there were many flight options to allow you to get home the same day.
We had a mechanical problem and missed our connection. There was only one more flight for the day, which was already full, so we ended up in Charlotte for an overnight stay. In this case, the airline covered the cost for a nearby hotel and provided food vouchers that were only usable at the airport.
Please keep in mind that each airline and airport has different policies and ways of addressing the pandemic. Many systems are changing day by day, and we are learning as we go along with the employees. You may be required to wear a mask, have your temperature taken, or fill out a health questionnaire.
On our trip, we were not required to have temperature checks or fill out a health survey but did have to wear a mask. Policies will change going forward and will also vary from airline to airline. Flexibility is vital while flying anytime, but especially during a pandemic. Sphera travel will make sure you have all the relevant information you need before departing on your vacation.
Sphera Travel will always be available while you are traveling to help with any arrangements you need due to airline delays and cancellations.
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