While scientists have been warning the world of another pandemic for years, it still seemed highly unlikely in our fast-paced, modern world – we are used to pandemics in movies, but not in real life. However, here we are. And while Covid-19 may be subsiding in some regions, it is still ongoing in others, and its impact has already caused major changes in many areas, including education, health, tourism and the economy. Online work and education are concepts that may be our reality for the next few years. There are still many uncertainties.
The tourism sector, naturally, is also impacted by the pandemic. New standards have been implemented in terms of health and hygiene, from hotels and airports to visa and check-in procedures. The ‘Immunity Passport’ is another concept that we expect to hear more about: while there is no clear framework yet, arguments are ongoing about whether this is necessary or whether it is the beginning of a creeping bio-dystopia.
However, even these uncertainties continue, airlines and airports worldwide are stepping up to the plate with extensive hygiene practices and standards to ensure a healthy travel experience. This Turkish Airlines webpage explains in detail the new hygiene standards at the airport and on aircraft.
In accordance with measures taken by Turkish Airlines, airports and airplanes are disinfected regularly. As much as possible, various processes have been redefined to ensure minimum or zero contact, while each stage of the travel experience is regulated in accordance with social distancing guidelines. Thus, Turkish Airlines endeavors to protect the health of both passengers and employees at maximum level.
Even with these measures in effect, you can do your part by paying attention to these simple tips and suggestions.
Make your transactions online and contactless.
Try to make any pre-flight transactions online and opt for contactless procedures at the airport. At Istanbul Airport, both passport/identity control and baggage delivery are now available via a contactless process. You can find out more about these regulations from the website of your airline and airport, before you fly.
Your belongings are only special to you.
If security officials at the entrance of the airport are required to check your luggage, ask them to use new gloves. Remember, the virus is everywhere. To prevent the spread and contact of the virus via your belongings, any official conducting a search should change their gloves. In addition, according to Charles Gerba, a professor of microbiology at Arizona University, you should never walk barefoot at the security checkpoints where metal detectors are located. Keep that in mind.
Wear a mask and gloves.
Airports are regularly disinfected by special cleaning teams. But you should still wear a mask and gloves. Avoid touching objects or items that are likely to receive a great deal of contact.
All Turkish Airlines aircraft feature HEPA filters. Thus, 99.97% of particles in the air (of up to 0.3 micron) are filtered, ensuring clean air. The air in the cabin is renewed every three minutes, thanks to hospital standard HEPA filter systems. These measures offer a safe and peaceful flight, but passengers are still required to wear a mask. Disposable masks should be changed every four hours, so remember to bring enough masks for your flight.
Social distance. Social distance. Social distance.
Airports and aircraft boarding and disembarking processes have already been organized according to social distancing rules, but caution is still advisable. When waiting at the airport, look for quieter and less crowded places to sit. Abide by social distance guidelines and keep 1,5 meters between you and other passengers. If possible, get to the airport earlier than the recommended time; having the luxury of extra time will allow you to stay calm and abide by social distancing guidelines.
BYOD (Bring your own disinfectant).
There are disinfectants and sanitizers at many points inside the airport and on the plane. However, bringing along your own disinfectant – composed of least 60% alcohol – is an excellent idea, particularly if you do not have immediate access to one of the public sanitation devices. A comprehensive disinfection process takes place on aircraft after each flight, but some passengers feel more comfortable if they are also able to wipe down their seat areas, i.e. the seatbelt, armrests and meal trays. Do keep in mind that ordinary wet wipes are less effective in terms of disinfecting.
Your own stuff is the best.
Many airlines are now suggesting that passengers bring their own pillow and/or blanket, particularly as these items will not be available on every flight. Some airlines have restricted or suspended meal and beverage services: check with your airline and find out whether you are permitted to bring your own food on the flight, as each airline has its specific guidelines.
Turkish Airlines will offer packaged inflight snacks according to the flight range. Textile products offered on Turkish Airlines flights, such as blankets or pillows, have been cleaned with chemicals accepted by international authorities and packaged via contact-free means.
Do not hurry.
The pandemic reminded us that we lived fast. In fact, sometimes we lost track of the natural flow of life. There is a renewed call for calm, especially in situations that involve airports and aircraft. Stay calm. Get to the airport a little bit earlier and pay attention to social distance guidelines. Abide by the instructions of airport officials and airline crew: these are not capricious orders; they have been implemented to keep us all safe.
Turkish Airlines, for example, has redefined boarding and disembarkation procedures. Accordingly, boarding will be conducted in five rows, starting from the rear of the plane. Aside from exceptional cases, all boarding and disembarking will be carried out via aircraft boarding bridges apron buses will not be used. So, again, each stage of the travel experience is designed in accordance with social distancing guidelines.
Trust the cabin crew.
Cabin crews consist of experienced personnel who regularly receive training. Cabin crews are prepared for all scenarios you may face during a flight. They can quickly identify and resolve issues. In fact, although some passengers view cabin crew as the people who serve the food and beverages, the primary job of a flight attendant is to keep passengers and other crew members safe. As such, flight attendants are trained to handle emergencies and other crises. So, do not panic and follow the instructions of cabin crew.
It could be a common cold.
Catching a cold on a flight is so common that the English Institute of Sport prepared a guide for athletes, to reduce their chances of getting sick while traveling. The risk of catching a cold on a plane is 23 times higher than normal. You do not need to panic immediately if you feel ill: it could simply be a common cold.
Still, do self-quarantine after the flight, as per the authorities, and do consult a doctor if the illness persists or if you show symptoms of Covid-19.