So you have not flown in a year? And you want to get back to flying. Here are surprises and tips on how to prepare from The Women’s Travel Group.

What to expect depends on where you fly from. Even in no mask states, federal law requires masks at airports and on the airplane.  In the taxi, or bus to the rental car lots, local laws prevail. However, some states require masks in shuttle buses, rental car offices, car ramps etc. 

Airport Masks
Masks are required at airports and even rental car offices. Source:

Choosing a seat on the airplane. Some airlines (ie Delta) cross off seats to allow for distancing. If you are flying with family, book the group together or you might get separated by blocked seats. Booking together tells the computer you can sit next to these persons.

A caveat, I was on a plane recently, where people moved seats after take off. Tell staff discreetly.

airplane seat map
Distancing on Delta seat map Source:

On the airplane: Some people don’t eat to avoid taking off the mask. Some drink with a straw rather than with an exposed mouth. Airplane meals have changed. Even in Business Class, you get a small ‘shoebox’ and bottle of water. It is filled with mini packs of crackers, Gold Fish, dried fruit, nuts and possibly hummus or slices of salami. To describe these meals is here: BRING YOUR OWN. Bring  your own straws also.

Everyone is required by law to wear a mask and cover both mouth and nose. Some passengers will have masks and shields. (A month ago the CDC recommended double masking with a cloth mask over an N95 one).  Each person does what the law says and what makes them feel safe. Bring an extra mask in case. 

CDC masks for flying
CDC recommended masks Source: CDC

Consider wiping down seat armrests with sanitizer. Airline staff will give you one little sanitizer package. Bring more to wipe hands each time you leave your seat for the lavatory or other. (You will touch the movie screen, seat recliner button and seat belt). (More recent science tells us transmission is rare via touching).

Don’t put items in the seat pocket. That area has always been full of mystery crumbs, discarded paper even food wrapping. 

If possible, wait a minute or so before entering the restroom after someone exits.  

If you have not flown in a year, now is the time to learn your phone. Put the airline app on your phone. Here is how: 

1- Search on line for the airline App. 

2-Click on  Download button. It might say ‘Download on the App Store or on Google Play’. Click there. It is free.

3-Next screen: click on ‘Get’. (You might need your password to download into your phone.) 

4-A new icon will appear on the phone screen. You will need to enter your password and personal details.  You now have access to check in, flights, seats, upgrades, terminal numbers arrivals and departures, weather.  A fun addition is some airline apps shows where the plane is coming from. This is handy if you worry about landing there with weather or other disrupters.

A next lesson if you are back to flying, is about QR codes or Quick Response Codes. Bar codes are read by machinery; QR codes link to webpages or applications. You probably have  experience with QR’s in restaurants with menus. A QR looks like a black and white square filled with small black and white squares. Here is how to open it:

1-Go to Settings

2- Find Camera. 

3-Change camera setting to ‘Allow QR codes’. 

4-Go back to the camera, focus the camera on the QR square.  

5-A Safari window will open at the top of your phone. Be ready; it pops up and disappears quickly.  You can always repeat this step to catch it.

6-Click on the Safari picture to see a full document or site. 

Industry expects QR codes will be used for the so called ‘Vaccine Passport’. And for other travel information that is not in your passport.

You have arrived at your destination. At the taxi rank if you want the driver to mask up and he/she does not, ask for a different taxi.  I personally try to avoid airports in non masking states.  My opinion is  passengers there are casual about masks in airport bathrooms or taxi areas. If you agree, you might share that thought with airline customer service. 

A critical final note: if you are flying overseas, there is more to consider. You will need a hard copy of a federal Attestation form. Print it out, fill it in and give it to check in for your return flight. Remember since it is hard copy only, you need a printed version. Airports can run out of these papers.

A mask and a few minor adjustments might mean you can safely see your grandchildren or best friends. It also might mean you can restart your travel life.  

If you have not flown in a year or even more, please ask questions if you are still confused. We are at:

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