Are you planning to go home for the holidays but worried about traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Did you know that traveling by air is the safest mode of transport out there? It's true! 

Still, it's understandable for folks to get a little nervous while flying with a crowd of strangers, especially after the COVID-19 outbreak. 

So let's soar into the precautions you can take to fly safely during COVID-19! 

• Check-ins Before Travel!

Making travel plans? Make sure to check these factors - 

1. The status of the spread of COVID-19 at your destination - Make sure you have minimal to no chance of getting infected. 

2. Your vulnerability to the infection - Older adults and people with certain medical conditions have a higher risk of getting infected from COVID-19.

3. The health of the people you are going to stay with - If you get infected while touring, you can spread the virus among others.

• Onboard? Follow these steps when you travel by airplanes -

1. Wear a Mask! 

Most viruses don't spread easily on airplanes because of how air circulates and is specially filtered on flights. 

There is evidence that masks on planes make a great difference in the spread of the virus. In the early days of the break of the coronavirus pandemic, a man flew from Wuhan to Toronto with a dry cough and was subsequently tested COVID-19 positive. He was wearing a mask during the flight, and no other passenger was found infected. 

2. Social Distancing is as important as your passport! 

Though social distancing in its absolute sense is impossible to maintain on a plane. 

We have earlier discussed how some airlines like Delta Air Lines are currently leaving middle seats empty for creating more space between the passengers. But it's difficult to maintain such social distancing in crowded flights. Air travel also involves spending time in security lines, airport terminals, and so on, which can bring people in close contact with each other. So try to keep a spatial distance from people as much as possible while you are at the airport or onboard. 

• The duty is not just yours! 

Guidance has been issued by the CDC and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to help airlines prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Most major airlines in the U.S. require that crews and passengers wear cloth face coverings, and so on. You can check our previous article to see what specific airlines of the USA are doing to protect their passengers. 

If you haven't flown since the pandemic began, get ready to notice some changes! 

1. The cleaning and disinfecting of equipment and surfaces at screening checkpoints has been increased by The Transportation Security Administration (TSA). 

2. TSA officers are instructed to wear masks and gloves and practice social distancing.

3. After each pat-down the TSA officers have to change their gloves.

4. Plastic shields are being used at bag search, document checking podium, and drop off locations. 

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), said on October 8 that "the risk of a passenger contracting COVID-19 while onboard appears very low."

• But what about the screening process? 

1. Though travelers may wear face masks during screening, TSA employees can ask them to adjust masks for identification purposes.

2. Travelers should place passes directly on the scanner and then hold them up for inspection, instead of handing over the boarding passes to TSA officers. 

3. One container of hand sanitizer up to 12 ounces can be carried by each traveler in a carry-on bag which will be screened.

4. Separating food from carry-on bags rids screeners from the need to open bags for inspection. So food items are to be carried in a plastic bag and placed in a crate for screening. 

5. Keys, wallets, phones, and other such personal items should be placed in carry-on bags instead of containers. This curtails the handling of these items during screening.

6. Before and after going through screening be sure to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

• What more can you do?

Ready for the trip or reached your destination? The following steps have been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to protect yourself and others when you travel - 

1. Maintain a distance of 2 meters (6 feet) with others.

2. Avoid contact with anyone who you feel is sick. 

3. Limit contact with, use hand sanitizer or wash your hands afterward you touch frequently touched surfaces, such as handrails, elevator buttons, and kiosks. 

4. Make sure to wear a cloth face mask.

5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, mouth, or face in general. 

6. Always cover your face when you cough or sneeze.

7. Make sure to clean your hands after going to the bathroom, before eating, after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose. 

8. Wash your hands often or use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

9. Check local requirements and restrictions, such as requiring people to wear masks and requiring them to stay home for up to 14 days for those who recently traveled. Check for restrictions at your destination and anywhere you might stop along the way to save yourself from unpleasant surprises and delays. 

Though it's very difficult to subdue the urge of going home and spending the holidays with your loved ones, safety always comes first. So make sure to check and maintain all the aforesaid safety parameters before booking your flight tickets and also while traveling by air. 

Now get ready to pack and go for "Throttle UP!"