Flying with kids is already a recipe for disaster. Add in an airborne pandemic and your job as a parent can feel insurmountable. If you need to fly somewhere with your children, there are several things you can do to greatly reduce the chance of your family catching the coronavirus.
A recent study has determined that the majority of the people who get COVID-19 while flying actually catch it in the airport and not on the plane. The simplest way to reduce your risk is to arrive closer to takeoff and minimize interactions along the way. In normal times we let our boys explore the airport to burn off some energy, but it is better to act like waiting for the plane is the same as being on it, sitting them down with a toy or activity they love.
If at all possible, avoid the bathroom at the airport. Bathrooms are known locations of transmission and airport bathrooms see heavy traffic. It is preferable (if you can believe it) to use the tiny bathroom on the airplane. Even it is much more cramped, there are two important reasons why airplane bathrooms are safer: airplanes have power air conditioning and filtration, so the air is cleaned and cycled quickly. Also, many fewer people use a plane bathroom than the airport bathroom, reducing your chances of interacting or sharing air with an infected person.
Kids may not like masks, but they should be used to them by now. If not, practice! Make sure you buy child-sized masks instead of ill-fitting adult ones. Our 5-year-old is happy with over-the-ear straps and our 3-year-old prefers behind-the-head straps, which tend to be more secure. Make things easier by getting a mask that features a character they love it. Your child may not want to wear a plain mask but they might LOVE to transform into Spider-man or Elsa wearing a themed mask.
Younger children will touch and lick anything possible, especially if you are desperate to stop them. Spend a minute wiping down your child’s armrests, table and screen. Don’t forget to wipe your area as well.
Your children may have flown before, but it is important to discuss how things will go before they get there. Yes, they have to wear their mask the whole time. No, they can’t run around the airport. When boarding, they have to wait for you to clean their area before going to their seat. By letting them know the plan ahead of time they will have a smoother experience in the moment. Even young kids know about the coronavirus so they may harbor fears about flying or about being in close proximity to others. Letting them know you have a clear plan of action will give them a feeling of control over the situation, which can relieve their worry and prevent tantrums.
Flying with kids is already fraught with difficulty, so give yourself a break from worrying about every choice you make along the way. A long boring flight can be stressful if you worry about every person near you. The data has shown multiple instances of infected people taking long flights without passing the virus to anyone else on the plane.
Airplanes are operating with limited food services and you should avoid shopping in the airport, so make sure you come prepared.
You may need to catch a shuttle to the car rental area. This might be the riskiest part of your flight! If possible, have one parent get the car then drive over to pick up everyone else.