Jeff needs to visit family in Oregon later this year and travel from Kauai. But it remains to be seen when that will happen, and how safe it will feel to spend 5 hours aloft on flights to Hawaii. Like you, we are looking for any light at the end of the tunnel.
For the time being, we have only essential service to and from Hawaii. On-board those planes, we hear that passengers generally do not sit near one another. Also, far more stringent cleaning protocols are in effect. Airlines have already had to forego many traditional services. Aircraft cleaning between flights has become extreme, which is necessary, time-consuming and costly.
From our read, the current risk of infection on planes is not fully understood. That having been said, the fact that cabin crew have not reported wide-spread issues might be telling us a lot.
As we learn more, and prior to the return of flights to Hawaii, new air travel safety protocols will continue to evolve. As to what that may look like, we’ve been given that a lot of thought, as you may have. As always, we welcome your input.
1. Limited movement on aircraft. In the past we all wanted to move around the aircraft. In the future, at least for awhile, that may not be the case. It’s still important for health to stand up and walk on long flights, so there may be limits placed on how many passengers can be up or in an aisle at a given time.
2. Deep cleaning between every flight. That has already begun. I think we will also continue to do our own cleaning of all surfaces before sitting down. In fact we have been practicing that for years.
3. Sanitation stations on board. We expect to see ubiquitous hand cleaner dispensers. Just to be safe, we will continue to bring our own.
4. Automated lavatory sanitation between uses. We haven’t heard much about this recently, nor do we know what can be retrofitted to existing planes. About five years ago, Boeing came up with a design for an innovative self-cleaning lavatory. “The UV light destroys all known microbes by literally making them explode.
5. Touch-less lavatory adaptations for doors, sinks and toilets. These already exist, but what can be accomplished and in what time frame, is unknown.
6. Revised boarding and disembarkation procedures to minimize crowding. Do you remember how we all stood up and gathered as flights began to board? Even though we were told to wait until our row was called? Or the norm of standing shoulder to shoulder in a crowded jetway, often with no ventilation? We have a feeling the airlines won’t have any arguments from us in avoiding these going forward.
7. Mandatory use of face masks. No problem, it appears this will be our new travel and clothing accessory for the foreseeable future.
8. Health screen. Temperature’s will be taken and likely more. We encountered this in Africa last fall.
A substantive study took place at Emory University two years ago.
While it was not conclusive at the time, the study, published by the National Academy of Sciences, found that both surface and air samples on aircraft showed no remnants of respiratory disease. That, in spite of the study taking place during winter travel season.
Researchers said, “Most of the infections that are due to air travel are because someone infected has been transported from point A to point B,” rather than occurring on the flight itself.
How thorough are the airline HEPA air filters?
Those are said to have a 99% efficiency rating and are of hospital quality. The International Air Transport Association recently said that due to “a range of factors including high cabin airflow rates, relative lack of contact between passengers, lack of face-to-face conversations, and widespread awareness of avoiding flying while unwell,” air travel is and will remain safe.
The World Health Organization has said “There is no evidence that recirculation of cabin air facilitates the transmission of infectious disease agents on board.”
Add your thoughts and comments below. We love hearing from you. Mahalo!
PS. All of this, to precede testing and immunization.