Repeat after me: The Wuhan flu ain’t nuthin to fly with. The Wuhan fly ain’t nuthin to fly with. Good. Now follow these 5 tips to help you stay safe from the Coronavirus, aka COVID-19, without skipping the airport lounge.
But first, a Disclaimer:
If you can’t tell by the name and general tone of this site, we are not medical experts. The following tips have been sourced and adapted from IATA, the CDC and other bodies who are way more authoritative than we are. They are probably more competent in all regards, really, but we will leave that judgement to you, the reader.
1. If you believe you have COVID-19, don’t travel
This should be obvious, and yet a man recently boarded a plane for Florida, knowing he could be carrying the Coronavirus. If you feel any symptoms, or are generally ill, you owe it to humanity to stay home.
If that’s not enough to convince you, consider that you may be denied boarding, refused entry into another country or be unable to return home after being quarantined. You know how expensive that last minute hotel reservation was for your weekend in Martinique? Imagine paying for it for 2 months.
Shortly after the spread of COVID-19, we at LoungeSharks set out to review lounges in the Caribbean, transiting through a number of international borders. As the week-long research trip wore on, we saw border control measures get tighter and tighter. Fever sensors are in place at airports and borders and everyone is on edge.
me after hearing someone cough on my $8 round trip flight to italy pic.twitter.com/5Fumi7fWvm— dijahsb.com (@DijahSB) March 6, 2020
2. Practice good hygiene
Oh how I wish this went without saying. Yet, days after the first US cases, I witnessed a man in the Charlotte Centurion Lounge go straight out of a bathroom stall and into the food line.
Wash your hands often and avoid touching other people. In my most recent stop at the Centurion Lounge in Miami International, the staff had already begun roping off the food lines, stationing gloved staff there to serve lounge-goers. Meanwhile, a plate of cookies sat out on a separate counter without so much as a pair of tongs to use to grab them. I had three cookies, and can confirm that the virus droplets add just the right extra moisture to really make the texture pop.
I wish for world clean. pic.twitter.com/80UNsCnGFa— Mr. Clean (@RealMrClean) September 5, 2014
Apart from washing your hands often, many passengers have been carrying alcohol wipes with a concentration greater than 60%, and wiping contact surfaces in terminals, lounges and planes [CDC]. Be aware that alcohol concentrations greater than 70% are not allowed on planes in any way, as they are highly explosive [TSA]. On one recent flight, the couple beside me pulled out a stowed bottle of 90%, hospital-grade alcohol to wipe the plane surfaces down. COVID-19 was the least of our worries.
3. Don’t wear a mask unless you’re already sick
We’re at the beginning of this pandemic, and medical supplies will be needed to protect caregivers [WHO]. If you think that may be too much to ask, consider that a doctor in full protective gear aboard a cruise ship still recently contracted the disease [UMN], so your makeshift mask isn’t likely to make much of a difference.
4. Keep up to date on travel restrictions
With borders closing and flights and events being canceled, you may not even be allowed in to your destination when you arrive. This list, maintained by IATA, lists the latest border closures.
Coronavirus conference ‘cancelled due to coronavirus’ https://t.co/yXLdcxq0lk— The Independent (@Independent) March 11, 2020
5. Don’t panic
Outside of a few specific demographics, the effects of the disease are often mild, and there is a good chance that the number of cases is drastically higher than the official figure. Many cases likely go unreported or undetected.
Maintaining good hygiene, being considerate of others and keeping an eye on travel restrictions are obvious things we should all be doing, but are even more important during the outbreak.
What have you seen? Please share your tips and experiences in the comments.