It’s no secret that air travel is a little scary right now. COVID-19 cases continue to rise around the world, and the omicron variant reportedly spreads 70 times faster than the delta variant. If you find that air travel is necessary during this time, you should definitely be concerned about finding the best ways to protect yourself and your family as you fly. Fortunately, there are a few key tips to use if you plan to book a flight during this pandemic.

Choose an Airline Dedicated to Proper Sanitation

According to the FAA, there are 24,833,000 hours of general aviation flight every year. Commercial flights may not be as crowded now as they often were before the pandemic, but those numbers still translate into millions of people flying every year. It is difficult for viruses to spread on planes due to how the air is filtered and circulated, and many modern planes are equipped with HEPA filters for added protection, but viruses can still live on surfaces that haven’t been sanitized.

Before you fly, it’s best to look up what your airline of choice is doing to protect its passengers from COVID. Many sanitize surfaces between flights, allow small bottles of liquid hand sanitizer on carry-on bags and provide sanitizing wipes for passengers. Since it’s still impossible to plan for everything on a flight, you should still be diligent about your own sanitation and health. Wash your hands frequently, wear a mask whenever you can, and try to maintain some distance from other passengers. That may not be possible if you’re on a crowded flight, so try to book a flight with fewer passengers if it’s at all possible.

Skip a Rapid Test and Choose a PCR Test

Rapid tests are more widely available now than PCR tests, but while they can provide results in about 15 minutes, they aren’t nearly as sensitive or accurate as PCR tests. They provide a snapshot of whether you have COVID at that time, but it can take time for the virus to show up on a test.

Before you fly, see if you can schedule a PCR test near you. Try to schedule your test one to three days before your flight to ensure that the results will arrive before you leave. If you’re having trouble finding a test near you, you can always check online. Up to 77% of patients use online reviews when finding a new healthcare provider, so you definitely aren’t alone in looking for a healthcare provider or an available test.

Whether you use a PCR test or a rapid test, you need to stay home and isolate yourself if the results are positive. Avoid travel for at least 10 days after your positive test or after your symptoms have gone away.

Remember to Keep Your Vaccination Card Safe

If you can help it, delay any travel until after you’ve been fully vaccinated. Once you are vaccinated, keep your vaccination card in a safe place and be ready to show it before boarding your plane. You should also remember that data transmission and storage security are imperative. Do not leave your card unattended, and take a photo that you can keep on your phone. Save a backup on another device in case your phone is lost or damaged.

Although travel is mostly discouraged right now, we understand that it is unavoidable in many cases. If you must travel by plane, make sure that you are fully vaccinated and boosted, always wear a mask in public, and wash your hands regularly. As always, if you suspect that you’ve been exposed to COVID or you are experiencing symptoms, postpone any travel and isolate yourself until you can be tested.