Flying During COVID Step 1: Finding a Flight
If you haven’t flown since the pandemic started, you’ll notice that it is now a much different experience. What used to be countless options on multiple airlines, is now slim pickings. Even if you are flying to and from a major city, you’ll likely find a fraction of the flights you are used to seeing. I just flew home to see my parents, and was surprised at how few my options were. The first thing you are going to want to do is find an airline with COVID restrictions that work for you. Some block middle seats, most offer flexibility with changes, and all require face masks. Here is a quick summary for the current restrictions. I’d recommend Delta.
Alaska – Face coverings are required, most middle seats are blocked & the number of customers on the plane are limited through the end of November. Looks like they are taking a page out of Southwest’s book.
Allegiant – Face coverings are required, middle seats are not blocked. One free change or a cancellation refunded with airline credit allowed on each reservation.
American – Face coverings are required, middle seats are not blocked. All reservations can be changed or canceled for the value of the ticket. This has now become a permanent rule as of the end of August.
Delta – Face coverings are required, middle seats are blocked & the number of customers on the plane are limited through 1/6/2021. All flights booked through the end of 2020 can be changed or canceled without penalty.
Frontier – Face coverings are required, most middle seats are not blocked. Change and cancellation fees still apply, however they now offer the WORKS policy, which if purchased at booking, provides more flexibility in change and cancellation than ever before.
Southwest – Face coverings are required, middle seats are blocked through the end of November. As always, Southwest doesn’t charge for changes or cancellations. They also offer even more flexibility now due to the pandemic.
Spirit – Face coverings are required, middle seats are not blocked. Change and cancellation fees are waived through the end of October.
United – Face coverings are required. Middle seats are not blocked. Like Alaska and American, change fees are now permanently waived for most Economy and premium cabin tickets for travel within the U.S, or between the U.S and Mexico or the Caribbean.
Flying During COVID Step 2: Get PPE
Regardless of your level of risk, I would recommend getting a solid face mask for your trip. When I flew in September, I doubled up with a KN95 and a surgical mask. I would recommend something that is FDA Approved, like these KN95 masks from Honest PPE. You can get 10 for $29.50 plus tax and shipping. However, Amazon has a ton of options if the FDA approval isn’t that important to you. I’d recommend these.
Get Ready to Fly
Before your flight, be sure to check any restrictions in the area you are flying to. Some states require quarantine, some require a negative COVID test, and some have no restrictions at all. Kayak has a great guide on restrictions by state, so use it as a resource. Regardless, you can make flying during COVID less stressful by preparing ahead of time and having a plan on your travel day.