What will happen if I start feeling unwell during the flight?
If, after take-off, you start to experience symptoms compatible with COVID-19 such as Fever or chills, Cough, Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, Fatigue, Muscle or body aches, Headache, New loss of taste or smell, Sore throat, Congestion or runny nose, Nausea or vomiting, Diarrhoea, you should immediately contact the cabin crew and advise them of the situation. You can expect the cabin crew to respond by:
Ensuring you are wearing your medical face mask properly and have additional masks available to replace it in case it becomes wet after coughing or sneezing.
If you are having difficulty breathing, medical assistance and oxygen supplementation should be offered.
Will passengers that show symptoms be isolated on board?
Passengers who develop symptoms on board the aircraft should be isolated from other passengers to the extent possible, depending on the configuration of the aircraft, the actual occupancy and distribution of passengers, the position of the symptomatic case (and what is practicable).
What happens if someone near me on the flight is taken ill?
Passengers who were seated in the same section of aircraft with the suspected case, as defined by seat configuration, are considered close contacts of the suspected COVID-19 case. They might need to be interviewed by the entry country public health authorities if the suspected case is confirmed. Depending on the configuration (e.g. if the entire cabin of the aircraft is one section) it may in fact mean all the passengers in the particular flight. In addition, if contact tracing discovers >1 new case among the passengers, then contact tracing of all the passengers in the particular flight should be considered.
After the aircraft has landed and all the other passengers have disembarked, the isolated symptomatic passenger, and where applicable their companion(s), should be disembarked and managed in accordance with the instructions provided by the local public health authorities.
Are there special procedures in place on board the aircraft to prevent spread of the virus?
Airlines have been provided with specialist technical instructions to ensure the air quality in the cabin is as high as possible. The air quality in the cabin is higher than many of us regularly breathe on the ground. This is because the entire air supply is typically exchanged every 3-5 minutes. In addition, most modern aircraft use high quality filters, known as HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters, which are fine enough to trap the viral load and release clean air.
Passengers themselves are expected to behave responsibly for their own welfare and for the good of their fellow passengers. In particular, you will be expected to adopt:
Hand hygiene, particularly before eating or drinking and after use of the toilet
Appropriate use of medical face masks
Respiratory etiquette – cough or sneeze into a paper towel or flexed elbow
Limiting contact – do not touch cabin surfaces unnecessarily and try to stay in the seat as much as possible
Reducing the use of individual air supply nozzles as far as possible, unless otherwise advised by the cabin crew on your flight
Will in-flight food and drink services be available?
Contact your airline or consult its website in advance to check on in-flight services for your flight. In general, you should expect a reduced level of service, particularly on short-haul flights. This is to limit movement in the cabin and to prevent potential transfer of the virus through contact with surfaces. The recommendation to airlines include distribution or availability of packed goods (such as bottle of water or a wrapped sandwich) but this will vary in individual flights and according to the service procedures of your airline
In case of emergency, follow the instructions as shown during the safety demonstration. If cabin pressure is lost and oxygen masks are released, passengers should remove their medical face masks before putting on the aircraft oxygen masks and follow any further instructions from the air crew. As always, remember to secure your own supply of oxygen before helping others, such as children. Note that air crew members will remove their protective face masks in case of any emergency, so as to facilitate the communication of instructions to passengers.
Airlines will put measures into place to manage the passenger use of lavatories so as to avoid passengers queuing in the aisle or the galleys for the use of the lavatories. Please also note that, in some aircraft, a lavatory may be reserved for crew use only.
How is air recirculated in the cabin and is it safe?
The quality of air provided during a flight is very high. This is due to frequent exchange of air (the entire air supply is typically exchanged every 3-5 minutes) and the High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters which are used on board of most modern aircraft. Airlines and airport operators will work together to ensure that passengers are not kept on board an aircraft without proper ventilation for longer than 30 minutes.
What happens if a passenger “misbehaves” or doesn’t want to follow the rules?
Passengers who do not voluntarily follow the COVID-19 procedures or abide by crew instructions will be treated as “unruly passengers”, the term used in the industry for passengers who misbehave on board, for example through intoxication or through verbal or physical altercations with others on board.
This can lead to immediate action on board to curtail such activities, with possible further consequences on landing, depending on the local regulations.
Contact your airline for details. In general, there will be only a reduced food and drink service, particularly on short-haul flights, with preference given to pre-packaged and sealed food and drink products, such as canned drinks. Airlines have been advised to reduce on-board service to the minimum necessary to ensure comfort and wellbeing for passengers and to limit the contact between them and crew members.
I forgot to take an additional medical face mask and the one I am wearing is wet. What should I do?
Passengers should ensure sufficient supply of medical face masks for the duration of their journey. However, airlines should carry a sufficient number of medical face masks on board to provide to passengers, especially for long-haul flights where the need to change masks may be advised by public health authorities. Speak to your cabin crew if you discover you need an additional mask while on board the aircraft.
What seating arrangements will be in place to ensure physical distancing?
In line with passenger load, cabin configuration and mass and balance requirements, airlines should ensure, to the extent possible, physical distancing among passengers and arrange the seat allocation accordingly.
If physical distancing cannot be guaranteed because of the passenger load, seat configuration or other operational constraints, passengers and crew members on board an aircraft should adhere at all times to all the other preventive measures including strict hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette and should wear a medical face mask.
A) Can I sit with my family /partner/ friends?
Family members and individuals travelling together as part of the same household can be seated together even in cases where other passengers are spaced across the aircraft for physical distancing purposes.