How can I reduce my risk of exposure to COVID-19 while flying?

While it is safest not to fly on airplanes, there are some times when you can’t avoid it. If you HAVE to fly, we want to help you reduce the risk of getting COVID as much as possible.

At all times

  • Wear a cloth face mask while traveling.
  • Avoid touching your face and wash your hands frequently, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

In the terminal

Most of the risk while you are in the terminal comes from being in a place with many other people.  Reducing your risk by making sure you stay at least 6 feet apart from other travellers. Limit the number of times you touch screens, bins or items other people also use.  We recommend: 

  • To avoid contact, use online check in before arriving at the airport, have a mobile boarding pass, and use a carry on instead of a checked bag.
  • Maintain physical distancing in ticketing, boarding lines, and waiting areas.
  •  When going through security, place personal items like watches, cell phones, and keys in your carry on so you don’t have to use the bins.

During the flight 

The CDC notes that most viruses and germs do not spread easily on flights because of high levels of air circulation and filtration on planes. However, flying involves prolonged contact, sometimes for hours, with other passengers. On crowded flights, it can be impossible to maintain 6 feet of distance from other passengers.  In order to decrease these risks, we recommend:

  • If you can choose your seat, select a window seat that is not near a bathroom.  Alternatively, try to sit in an aisle seat with the middle seat open.
  • Once you board the plane, try to stay in your seat.
  • Bring disinfecting wipes with you so that you can wipe down tray tables, arm rests, entertainment monitors, air vent nozzles, and other high-touch surfaces when you first arrive at your seat.
  • Eat or drink as few times as possible so you don’t have to remove your mask often. Bring your own food and beverages on the flight to reduce contact with flight attendants.
  • Each time you remove your mask, sanitize your hands before and after touching it, and avoid touching the front.


Last update:  May 6, 2020, 12:00 PM ET

Reviewed by: JSS, GSN