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Post-COVID travel:
What every air traveler needs to know


The number of travel safety updates and guidelines — specifically for air travel — is at an all-time high due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While fully vaccinated people have the green light from the CDC to travel with limited guidelines, we’re a long way from carefree travel. 

There are several credible, trusted sources of the most up-to-date information that all travelers should review leading up to any domestic or international air travel. Because regulations and pandemic travel safety details for each destination are constantly changing, take note of the helpful links throughout this guide that can help you stay informed.


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Maximize your preparedness


In its recently-updated domestic travel recommendations, the CDC waived the need for COVID-vaccinated flyers to get tested before and after flying. However, the CDC does still recommend self-monitoring symptoms and wearing a mask, the latter of which is a requirement to fly. As for international travel, the CDC has an entirely separate and evolving list of recommendations based on your destination.

Your most likely source of current air travel-specific information will come from airlines and the TSA directly, whether that’s through day-of push notifications or the TSA’s regularly updated Coronavirus Information page.  

The following are some of the Harvard’s National Preparedness Leadership Initiative’s recommendations for air passengers to reduce contact and exposure while traveling during the pandemic. 

Here are some important reminders while you’re in the airport:

  • Follow testing and quarantine requirements before traveling.
  • Never fly if you’re sick or showing symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Always try to maintain physical distance from others.
  • Wear a face mask at all times and do not remove it except for very short periods to eat or drink.
  • Disinfect hands after coming into contact with high-touch surfaces such as check-in machines,
  • TSA security bins, or bathroom fixtures.
  • Minimize time in restrooms and avoid crowded bathrooms.
  • Avoid crowded areas.

Source: Faculty of the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health, Aviation Public Health Initiative. Revised February 11, 2021.

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hand sanitizer

Here are some important reminders while you're on the airplane:

  • Follow required flight crew instructions while on the aircraft.
  • Maintain a six-foot distance before and after boarding the plane, such as on the jet bridge or at the gate.
  • Keep reasonable distance onboard when stowing and removing overhead luggage.
  • Clean hands and your immediate area, including tray tables, armrests and other high-touch areas.
  • Wear masks at all times during the flight, except very short times to eat or drink.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Avoid congestion in the aisles throughout the trip.
  • Alert a flight attendant if someone is showing symptoms of illness.
  • Keep hydrated.

Source: Faculty of the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health, Aviation Public Health Initiative. Revised February 11, 2021.

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Travel emergencies to consider before air travel


“The best-laid plans of mice and men,” as the saying goes. You can never be sure how a trip will play out, even if you’re up-to-date on all of the travel guidelines, fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and alert during your trip.

Our return to regularly scheduled business in a post-pandemic world might create a few extra scenarios to stress over when considering travel (but no need to fret if you have an EA+ membership!). As the country begins normalizing air travel again, what are some potential scenarios travelers should prepare for?

In-flight medical emergencies

According to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the most common types of in-flight medical emergencies are near-syncope (fainting), gastrointestinal, respiratory and cardiovascular, which occur on approximately one in every 600 flights. Most of these incidents occur between 5,000 and 8,000 feet, which means you can probably rest easy at cruising altitude.

Getting sick from other passengers

Pre-COVID 19, it was never comfortable to sit near a sneezing or coughing passenger, but in the context of the pandemic, symptomatic passengers are even more cause for concern.

Spreading COVID-19

As we know, with asymptomatic spreading events, you can never tell if you’re seated next to someone infected with the coronavirus. So, with air travel, there’s an inherent risk you’ll help spread COVID-19, although less chance if you’re fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Getting stuck in a foreign country

The average traveler can’t predict the spread of COVID-19 — even less so, how a foreign government might react to a sudden hot-spot. As outbreaks continue around the globe, the chance of getting stranded in a lockdown is still very real.

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Services that provide additional peace of mind


There are many other outlets that can help you stay informed before and during your trip, and it also might be worth considering additional protections before you travel. If you’ve booked trip insurance or a travel assistance membership such as Emergency Assistance Plus® (EA+®), there are additional resources available to assist you before, during and after your trip.

If you’re venturing out for the first time after a long year of lockdowns, one of your major priorities is simply having fun. But it’s hard to thoroughly enjoy the ‘now’ if you’re worried about the ‘what if’ of every scenario. Signing up for an annual membership with EA+ can provide the serenity you’ll want when you decide to hop back on a plane and go on an adventure.

Having travel assistance is similar to having a “fixer” with you along for the journey. The service product is there to take control of situations when you’re at your most vulnerable and in dire need. For example, EA+ memberships include:

Emergency Medical Evacuation

Should you fall ill or become injured in an area with inadequate medical facilities and personnel to treat your specific medical emergency, many travel assistance services will take the lead in working out the logistics to evacuate you from that insufficient facility to one that’s appropriately equipped to address your care.

Transportation after Stabilization

Once medical professionals have stabilized you or your loved one at the facility, travel assistance will work to swiftly and safely get you back into the comfort of your own home for recovery.

Nurse Escort

Suppose your condition requires monitoring and attention along the way. In that case, travel assistance can provide a medical professional such as a nurse to join you on your trip home to ensure your care continues from hospital to house.

Return of Your Travelling Companion

While you’re escorted home, travel assistance services can also work out the logistics of updating the travel itinerary of your companion, so they’re also taken care of in the event of an emergency. 

Vehicle Returns

Another important loose end that needs attention in an emergency is the return of your vehicle. Whether car or recreational vehicle, travel assistance will ensure the vehicle is returned to its proper location for added peace of mind.

5 Reasons About EA+

About Emergency Assistance Plus (EA+)


EA+ is a travel assistance product that protects members whenever they are traveling away from home and become hospitalized due to injury or illness. EA+ delivers more than 20 services to help members in this time of need.

EA+ is a membership program, not an insurance plan. Once members pay the annual fee, they do not have to pay for any of the provided services. EA+ makes all arrangements and covers all of the costs for the services on the members’ behalf, so they never have to worry about submitting claims for reimbursement. Member’s have to call EA+ during their emergency to be eligible for services.

For more information about rates and membership benefits, click here.