What to Expect When You Fly

If you have a trip planned this year for business or pleasure and it’s been awhile since you’ve flown, here’s some of what you can expect the next time you board a plane. 


First, the rule requiring masks remains in place. And it’s not a decision left up to individual airlines. Federal law requires that you wear a mask when you enter the airport, on board your flight and until you leave the airport where your trip ends. You can briefly lower or remove your mask while actively eating, drinking or taking oral medications, but the covering must be worn between bites and sips.  


In the wake of COVID-19, airlines, including the major U.S. carriers like Delta, American and United, have turned to medical experts for health and safety advice. As a result, they’ve implemented enhanced cleaning procedures and revamped many aspect of their operation, from check-in to boarding and the beverage and meal service.  


Be prepared for some changes the moment you get to the airport. For example, curbside check-in may not be available and you may find that premium clubs and lounges have been temporarily closed or consolidated. You may be asked to self-scan your boarding pass instead of handing it to a gate agent. Some airlines have updated their mobile app with new features designed to make your trip safer, including contactless bag check. So make sure you have the latest version on your smartphone. 


To enable safer boarding, many airlines have revised their procedures. Passengers will enter the plane from back to front, a few rows at a time. This helps everyone maintain a safe distance from each other without slowing things down. Delta is currently the only U.S. airline limiting capacity. The carrier will continue to block middle seats on flights through April 30. 


When you enter the cabin, you’ll find that flight attendants are making more space for each other by distancing during boarding, as well as during meal and beverage service. If you’re bringing a carry-on, it’s a good idea to pack light. To reduce touch points on board, some airlines warn that members of the crew won’t be able to assist passengers with placing their bags in overhead bins.  


In some cases, based on the length of the flight and the destination, food and drink service will be more limited than usual. On flights where meals are served, some pre-meal beverage service may be consolidated with the main meal, in order to reduce the number of touch points between passengers and flight attendants. Of course, you’re welcome to bring snacks and soft drinks on board.  


It will probably take longer than usual to get off of the plane once you reach your destination. So keep that in mind when booking a connecting flight. To allow greater physical distancing during deplaning, flight attendants will let passengers know when it’s their turn to exit.  

For help navigating any travel plans, contact one of our expert Travel Advisors.

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