As COVID-19 continues to create global uncertainty, we provide reliable advice regarding international and domestic travels. This FAQ grows as the new questions are being asked by our readers. Hopefully, it will help you to make the right decisions regarding your leisure travel or business trips during the 2020/2021 coronavirus pandemic.
For a general pandemic FAQ please check the WHO website.
Can airplane HEPA filters protect passengers from coronavirus?
Yes. HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filters are used on the planes to keep temperature, humidity, and air cleanliness in the cabin at the correct levels. HEPA filters can also capture 99.97% of airborne small particles (of the size of Covid-19) and the air is renewed every four to six minutes.
The flow of the HEPA-filtered air itself is designed to minimize infection risks. The air in the cabin is collected from outside the aircraft (normally through the engine) and mixed with recycled air from inside. The air blows down on passengers from vents above the seats and escapes through vents under the seats. This reduces the likelihood that viruses can travel throughout a cabin - a passenger from row 10, for example, cannot contaminate someone in row 20.
These sophisticated, hospital-grade HEPA air ventilation systems make physical distancing onboard flights unnecessary - as long as increased cleaning protocols, mask-wearing, and reduced interaction with the crew and other passengers are in place.
Should I wear a face mask on a plane?
Yes. You’re allowed (and often required) to wear a face mask during a flight.
Many airlines provide face masks and sanitizing wipes to passengers, but you would be better to make sure that you have your own when traveling.
The air in the cabin is renewed every four to six minutes as most commercial flights are using planes equipped with HEPA filtration systems. Still, if a person seated within 2 rows around you have COVID-19, there is a chance he would spread coronavirus particles towards you. A face mask will prevent you to catch the disease in such cases.
Also, if you are contagious but unaware, wearing a mask will prevent you from spreading the virus to your fellow passengers.
What is travel bubble?
Travel bubble (also: air bridge, corona corridor, green zone) is a bilateral arrangement between countries to ease border restrictions and allow quarantine-free travel during the coronavirus outbreak.
In the times of pandemic international travel typically requires two weeks of quarantine or self-isolation - to see if any COVID-19 symptoms appear. While it may work for people returning home or with plans of long-term staying at a destination, 14 days of isolation is not acceptable for most travelers and it basically kills the tourism at the destination.
Travel bridges seem to be the future of travel. They provide hope for a resumption of travel in the post-pandemic world, allowing international commerce and tourism to return. The result though could be also new divisions along epidemiological lines, with the countries where the coronavirus has not been fully contained, left behind.
Should I bring food to the airport and on flight?
As onboard meals are often limited these days, airlines are encouraging travelers to bring food with them. No two airlines have an identical food option during the pandemic. Some airlines still offer complimentary meals, others just pass you a snack bag while some have completely suspended food services.
You should check this with your airlines first, but as a general rule passengers are now welcome to bring food on flights. A little snack and water bottle are a minimum.
We highly recommend putting all carry-on food items into a clear plastic bag for X-ray screening. It not only helps protect food from contamination but also reduces the need for an airport agent to scour through your belongings.
Best books about Asia to inspire wanderlust
Undoubtedly, a good book is one of the most essential travel accessories. And when your next adventure still feels so far away, scratch that travel itch and check our list of selected books that highlight the wonders of Asia.