Airline travel will never be the same because of coronavirus


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A social distancing and mask message sign greets travelers as they enter the Orlando International Airport. The airport has taken many precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Courtesy of Orlando International Airport

Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, domestic and international travel might never be the same.

Social distancing, thorough use of hand sanitizer and the wearing of face masks and latex gloves might have to be an essential part of your plans if you want to travel in the near future.

Although some travel might be essential, like travel to provide medical or home care to others and travel necessary for a job considered an essential service, the CDC says the following travel recommendations provide advice about how to prevent getting and spreading COVID-19 if you must travel. Don’t travel if you are sick or plan to travel with someone who is sick.

If you must travel by air, the CDC says because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes, most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights. However, there might be a risk of getting COVID-19 on crowded flights if there are other travelers on board with COVID-19.

Susan Cassone, the co-owner of Footprints Travel, said most of her bookings have been moved from this year to 2021.

“I have never seen anything like this in all of my 40 years of working as a travel agent,” Cassone said. “I think travel is going to be a lot different than what we’re accustomed to.”

While most of her travel bookings have been moved to next year, Cassone said she is booking some travel cruises for late August and the winter months.

“I haven’t had a lot of people making travel plans,” she added. “I think most people are biding their time and seeing what happens.”

Cassone said she is monitoring the health and security guidelines from travel suppliers.

“I think what you may see are smaller numbers of travel groups that include multiple buses and a more relaxed spacing,” she said.

Beverly Lancaster, a retired U.S. Army nurse from Viera, said she had shifted her spring travel plans to the fall. However, she said she’s not sure if she will travel then.

“They (health officials) say it’s only going to get worse so I may put it off until next year,” said the 60-year-old woman who has traveled all over Europe, Scandinavia, South Africa, Panama and many domestic locations. “If I do travel, I definitely will take precautions like wearing a face mask and social distancing.”

Many travel industry experts report that an increasing number of airlines — and many airports such as Orlando International Airport — are now encouraging passengers to wear a mask or face covering, and some will provide one if necessary.

The CDC revised its recommendation, now advising everyone, feeling ill or not, to wear a cloth face-covering when you might not be able to stand — or sit — at least 6 feet apart from another individual.

Each airline has different restrictions and requirements.

For example, Delta Air Lines is blocking middle seats and capping flight loads through June 30 for social distancing, allowing only 50 to 60 percent of available seats on a flight to be booked. Other airlines adopting similar controls include Emirates, American Airlines, Japan Airlines, United and more.

Many other airlines are allowing bookings as normal, with one going so far as attempting to have passengers pay to observe social distancing. Last month, Frontier Airlines announced a “More Room Fee” purchasable for flights until Aug. 31. With this fee, a passenger could pay from $39 each way to guarantee that the middle seat stays unoccupied.

For information about Footprints Travel, go to  footprintstravel.biz.