Is it Safe to Fly Again During Coronavirus Covid-19?

Is it safe to fly again during the coronavirus Covid-19? I was looking through my emails and saw an email from West Jet titled “Safety Above All”. I decided to click on it and the email highlighted all the measures they are taking to ensure safety for their customers during Covid-19.

Is it Safe To Fly Again During Coronavirus Covid-19? West Jet’s safety Measures

Check-in – Their website states that their check-in will be similar as before. The change is that they will be wiping counters down with disinfectant between customers. There will also be more room between customers in line and the agents will be wearing masks. Also customers will be handling their own luggage. The website also highlights downloading their app to limit contact with surfaces during your journey.

Boarding – West Jet’s website states that Transport Canada requires everyone over the age of 2 years old to wear a face covering throughout your travel. The covering can be a non medical face mask or scarf. Regarding West Jet’s boarding policy here are the highlights of it below:

Boarding requirements policy

Health questionnaire

  • In compliance with Transport Canada regulations, to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), we require all guests to respond to a heath questionnaire at the time of boarding.
  • We urge guests to respond truthfully as providing false or misleading information could result in a $5,000 fine under the Aeronautics Act.

Symptom screening

  • We will conduct non-contact temperature checks at all airports
  • If you are displaying COVID-19 symptoms, or feeling unwell, you cannot board a flight.
    • If you have a medical condition which presents symptoms similar to those of COVID-19, you will need a doctor’s note or medical certificate that states your medical condition to board the flight.

Denied boarding

  • If you have been ordered by provincial or territorial government or local public health to self-isolate or quarantine you will be denied boarding.
  • If you are denied boarding for a domestic flight, we will rebook you to travel at least 14 days after the original date.
    • To travel earlier, a valid medical certificate stating that you not affected by the COVID-19 virus is required.
  • Guests denied boarding for repatriation flights will not be re-accommodated.

During Flight – West Jet indicates they are limiting seating to ensure more space between passengers during flights. Their website also says that families who are travelling together can sit together. For flights over 90 minutes, there will be a bottle of water and a snack at your seat as you board the flight. Regarding flight attendants, they will be wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) and masks suited to their roles. 

Is it Safe to Fly Again During Coronavirus Covid-19? Cleaning Procedures

Cleaning – This is probably the area of most concern for travelers when flying and West Jet has a detailed procedure from their website below:

Upon Boarding

We’ll give you a sanitization wipe for your hands or any surface you wish to wipe down, for your peace of mind.

On board

We now clean our aircraft more extensively and more frequently. We continue to clean with aviation-approved products, including Sanicide (disinfectant) for galleys and lavatories, along with Celeste 8500 for:

  • tray tables
  • general seating areas
  • to ensure all guest contact surfaces are thoroughly disinfected

We’ve added two additional disinfecting products to our cleaning regime–hospital-grade Clorox Wipes and Spray for:

  • galleys
  • lavatories and door handles
  • tray tables
  • seat armrests and headrests
  • seatbelt buckles
  • PSU panel
  • Overhead-bin door latches

Fogging

The entire aircraft interior is completely disinfected using a hydrogen peroxide-based solution cleaner. Fogging allows us to thoroughly disinfect our aircraft at any time, with little disruption to our guests and operations. The new process takes approximately 15 minutes to complete and the product dissipates within 20 minutes. We’re working hard to ensure fogging can be expanded to every base we operate to as soon as possible. All WestJet 737 and Q400 aircraft are cleaned as part of their overnight cleaning and sanitization regimen. 

HEPA filters

All WestJet aircraft are equipped with an industry-leading air circulation system containing a HEPA filter, similar to what’s used in hospitals.

Not only do these filters introduce fresh air into the cabin every 2 to 3 minutes, but they also capture and filter 99.99% of all airborne particles so you can breathe a little easier.

Is it Safe To Fly Again During Coronavirus Covid-19? Conclusion

The safety measures West Jet has taken is extensive and it appears a great deal of of thought and research has gone into developing them. So is it safe to fly again during the Coronavirus pandemic? For me the answer is still no. Even though these procedures are in place, they have not been tested to ensure they keep everyone safe. In my mind to fly now would mean that I would be the Guinea pig to see if these procedures work or not. Some might say that it is worth the risk and that is their choice. In fact, I’m sure a lot of people will decide to give air travel a try again.

However, for my family the risk is too high. The reality is that we are in a once in a generation pandemic in which there is no cure or vaccine as of yet. And worldwide, COVID cases are still growing. Not only would I be concerned about the actual air travel, but also getting stuck somewhere else if a lockdown was called again.

Will I travel again? Of course! But until the world gets a handle on Covid-19 or there is a reliable vaccine, my travel will be limited. Stay safe!

**Update Regards to Seating as of July 1, 2020**

Both Air Canada And West Jet will be offering every seat for sale on their flights as of July 1, 2020. This will end their physical distancing measures on their flights. As a result many people who booked flights with the airlines are now demanding refunds as they felt misled to believe that there would be no one in the middle seat. Regarding if this step is safe, here’s a quote from a recent CTV article below:

While Transport Canada recommends physical distancing on flights to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it’s not law.

“On WestJet’s website, the airline states that they decided to end the blocking off of adjacent seats because they are following the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) guidance for global health and safety.

They say IATA’s guidelines support removing physical distancing because they are already providing other protections against the virus, such as HEPA filters to clean recirculated air, airflow being directed up instead of forward or backward, and “the physical barrier of seat backs.”

The IATA, Lukacs pointed out, is not a health organization, but an airline association, which he says is serving the financial interests of airlines.”

Is it Safe to Fly Again During Coronavirus, Updated Conclusion

To sum things up, Coronavirus is very contagious and unpredictable. However, the one thing we know is that physical distancing is a strong defense against the virus. Especially if you are inside a building or an enclosed area for any length of time. In my opinion, the airlines are playing Russian Roulette with solely focusing on short term financial gain at the cost of long term pain. It is a risky proposition because more people can become sick. Also, there is more chance to keep spreading the virus all over the country and beyond.

Think about, how did covid-19 get here? It got here from flights, so logically the first line of defense to slow the spread is to put strong safety measures on flights. Air Canada’s and West Jet’s decisions to allow seating in the middle seat does not do that at all. And that is why I will not be flying anytime soon. Stay safe.

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