Air travel and COVID-19: Questions and answers you need to know – Tips

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When will we be able to travel by plane again?

The director of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Alexandre de Juniac, foresees the resumption of national flights in June and continental flights starting in July, but with a sanitary control process that will be presented at the end of the month.

IATA plans to resume intercontinental flights in the last quarter as part of a plan to reactivate the airline industry, one of the most affected since the coronavirus crisis began.

Will tickets be more expensive?

Several analysts and international websites point to a rise in the price of airline tickets. Compliance with security measures and the crisis affecting the sector are the main reasons.

What will be the capacity of the planes?

The Government announced that the planes will no longer have a reduced passenger capacity of two-thirds as of June 1 and that the use of “community mask is mandatory” on the planes.

The office of the Minister for Infrastructure and Housing states that “it is now important to align national rules with European rules with regard to civil aviation transport, in which a uniform European and international strategy is fundamental for the resumption of the sector and passenger confidence. “.

How will social distance be guaranteed?

Although there is no longer a passenger limit to ensure social distance on airplanes, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) have recommended physical distance measures whenever “whenever possible “.

On the plane, “where the number of passengers and the configuration of the cabin allows,” airlines “must ensure, as far as possible, the physical distance of passengers”, for example, leaving at least one empty seat between people, increasing the distance between seats or leaving two rows of chairs empty.

If this distance is not possible, “passengers and crew must constantly apply all other preventive measures”, they added in their recommendations.

The International Air Transport Association, which brings together 290 airlines, has already expressed its opposition to these physical distance measures, believing that they would reduce the aircraft occupancy rate below the break-even point and increase travel prices.

The director-general of Health said that the protocols that led to the aircraft being allowed to stop having reduced passenger capacity are not infallible, but stressed that “they are international guidelines” and that the risk was weighed.

“These are international guidelines. It is not a unilateral decision by a country. I think the risk is weighed (…) Is this process 100% foolproof? It is not. It is also mentioned that when there are active epidemics in countries, screening can be instituted, which allows the detection of potential patients. There are a series of protection barriers and very restricted protocols for people to people who will manifest this or any other disease on board ”, said Graça Freitas.

Where will I have to wear a mask?

The use of a mask will be mandatory on board the aircraft, but not only. The agencies recommend that all passengers and airline personnel wear surgical masks from the moment they enter the airport of departure until they reach their destination, with a possible exception for children under the age of six.

Masks must be changed every four hours and passengers must ensure that they have enough units, but companies are also encouraged to have an eventual stock to respond to needs.

How will it be at the airport and boarding?

The European Union (EU) calls for “minimizing contacts on departure”, encouraging the purchase of tickets and ‘check-in’ over the internet, as well as distance from security controls and the delivery and collection of luggage.

In addition to hygiene measures, such as frequent hand washing and equipment disinfection, European agencies also recommend that services on board aircraft be reduced to the “minimum necessary” and that access to airport terminals be done only by passengers and staff .

What are the chances of being infected by COVID-19 on a plane trip?

Airplanes use air filters with HEPA technology (High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance) which, as the name implies, are efficient in filtering particles, preventing the almost total spread of bacteria and viruses through the air – these filters are also used in hospitals, for example. In most airplanes, the air is filtered and recycled, so it is safe when it comes to transmitting diseases.

See also – Air inside an airplane: how are viruses and bacteria eliminated?

Perhaps the greatest risk at that moment is even contact with people who are already infected with COVID-19, so it is essential to follow the health and hygiene recommendations that have been widely publicized during all phases of the trip: from the airport to the airport. arrival at the final destination.

When I arrive at my destination, will I have to do the mandatory quarantine?

The European Commission does not consider it necessary for EU countries to apply mandatory quarantine measures for visitors if they adopt “satisfactory” containment measures, such as those recommended by Brussels.

Even so, the mandatory quarantine imposition is “a public health measure that is decided by each country”. Spain and England have already announced that whoever arrives in the country will have to stay 14 days of mandatory quarantine. That is why it is very important to find out, before purchasing a plane ticket, about the rules that each country is adopting. In the same way that all flights will not be resumed on the same date as this decision depends on the health situation of each country.

Is it worthwhile to book a plane trip for the summer holidays?

Health experts say it is very important to continue to maintain social distance. “The big conclusion is that you have to keep your distance. If you can keep your distance, things will go much better. And we’ve seen it in the last few months, [porque] when these measures were applied, the number of cases dropped, ”said Sergio Brusin, of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

“With some caution, it is possible to start over, but it is also necessary to understand that this will not be a normal season for tourism or travel, it will be a season with a slow reopening of the economy, in which it will be possible to do a little more than what happens today [dado o confinamento], but it will not be a normal summer in Europe ”, said the official to Agência Lusa.

Therefore, if you want to book holidays abroad:

  1. Find out about the health rules of your destination, as well as the situation of the epidemic
  2. Find out about the rules adopted by the airline about the ticket purchase process, check-in, boarding and social distance on the flight
  3. Make sure that you will be able to comply with the rules of hygiene and social distance while traveling

* With Lusa and AFP



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