Updated CDC and Airline Guidelines for Traveling During Coronavirus

by Shelli

While most of the world stays at home sheltering in place, there are still those who must fly. Though the numbers of flyers are very low, people still have reasons to fly. Maybe they need to get home or are traveling due to an emergency. Once you’ve made the decision to fly, the obvious next question is, “How do I fly and stay safe?” Knowing these updated CDC and airline guidelines prepares you for what’s ahead.

During the pandemic of the past few months, and given social distancing guidelines, many airlines have put safety precautions in place. The norm has become limited in-flight beverages and flyers are encouraged to bring their own drinks and meals on flights. Let’s take a closer look.

What Are the Airline Policies for Keeping You Safe During Your Flight?

Delta Air Lines serves refreshments, though all flights are limited to bottled water only. The policy also depends on the length of your flight. Of course, all the other airlines are limiting drinks and food so best to check your flight to know the current offerings.

Once flyers know about in-flight service, they need to understand seating arrangements given social distancing guidelines. Many, but not all, airlines are assigning seats and putting limits on seat assignments.

American Airlines and United Airlines are creating social distance when available by not seating customers in middle seats. They also allow passengers to change seats once everyone is on the plane if someone is feeling uncomfortable.

Alaska Airlines provides even more leeway in how both they, as the carrier, and you as the flyer, make safety decisions. On Alaska Airlines flights, flyers can reschedule or cancel a flight if Alaska Airlines cannot put you in a seat within a proper social distance from other flyers.

So now you are aware of beverage and food limits, and how airlines make seating arrangements for flights during this coronavirus pandemic time.

What about onboard cleanliness?

All airlines have been practicing increased sanitation and onboard cleaning. Even during more “normal” travel times, it’s always a good idea to bring your own cleaning products. Now, the airlines are actually encouraging flyers to do this.

What are airports doing to keep travelers safe?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued these safety guidelines. Airports in the US encourage all travelers to make themselves aware of these CDC and airline guidelines and follow them. As you might expect, the guidelines focus on social distancing, wearing a coronavirus face mask, and proper hygiene for washing your hands. Perhaps the most important piece of advice is to stay home and not fly if you are not feeling well.

Need hand sanitizer? Airports recognize this to be a big concern for us all, even when not traveling. Therefore, all major airports are offering free hand sanitizer stations around their terminals. The Transportation Security Administration has made an exception to the liquids rule and is now allowing one 12-ounce bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer per passenger.

CDC and airline guidelines recommend hand sanitizer

LAX hand sanitizer station

Courtesy Wikimedia

The latest US travel restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic can be found on the Department of Homeland Security’s website.

Some other airport facts:

  • Many airports have shut down most of their security checkpoints. Check to see which ones are available.
  • Both Delta and American have closed their airport lounges.
  • Most airport restaurants are closed or open on a limited schedule. Check airport websites for lists of what’s open inside their terminals.
  • Airports are all increasing cleaning schedules to be more vigilant about cleanliness in both bathrooms and public spaces. Yes, this should happen all the time even without a pandemic, but we all know it doesn’t.

Click here for all the latest coronavirus updates and policies by airline as well as hotel, travel insurance, stimulus payment, plus our own expert advice posts.

Final Thoughts

While the CDC cautions against traveling at all during this coronavirus time, it’s also true that some people do need to travel by plane. So staying safe by following updated CDC and airline guidelines and knowing more about your flight and airport experience makes sense. You can learn about what concerns you and be prepared.


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Legehuset April 14, 2020 - 2:15 am

Thanks a lot for the update Shelli. Nice to see an overview of guidelines, as it can easily become a jungle elsewhere.

Shelli April 14, 2020 - 12:01 pm

Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. Glad it was a helpful overview. Stay healthy and safe!


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