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How Safe is Air Travel for Families Now?

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With increasing border relaxations in Malaysia and around the world, many are toying with the idea of  travelling by plane again. Who knew parents would actually be looking forward to the chance to be squashed in a narrow aisle seat next to a screaming baby or restless toddler? 

Of course, safety is the number one factor in deciding whether to bring our families along for that long-awaited trip – and we understand that this decision is an entirely personal one. To help you as you plan ahead, here are some important factors for you to consider about travelling safely with kids during this pandemic- from handy hygiene tips, to SOPs of local airports and airplanes.

Factors to consider before flying

Source: Unsplash

1. Vaccination

Is your whole family vaccinated? Fully vaccinated travellers are less likely to spread and contract Covid-19. And even in the unfortunate scenario that a vaccinated individual contracts the virus, symptoms are greatly reduced

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC ) recommends that individuals should not take international flights unless they are fully vaccinated. For parents with unvaccinated children below 12 years old, fret not! There are plenty of good reasons to cuti cuti Malaysia. You could even opt for staycations in one of the many hidden gems around KL.

2. Ability to keep your mask on

Everyone has had to adapt to a mask-wearing life at present. We all know the importance of masking up to suppress transmission. However, it’s certainly a lot to expect very young kids to keep their masks on throughout an entire plane journey. 

Whilst wearing a face shield might prove helpful, we can’t emphasise enough that a face shield alone is not an effective replacement for proper mask wearing

3. Current health status 

Is everyone you plan to travel with relatively healthy? Individuals, both young and old, with pre-existing conditionssuch as heart issues, cancer, Down Syndrome or a weakened immune system are more likely to get severely ill from Covid-19. That being said, do remember that anyone (regardless of age) still bears the risk of getting seriously ill from the virus. 

SOPs of Local Airlines

Source: The Edge

Both Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia have been awarded the full 7 star rating by AirlineRatings.com for their COVID-19 health and safety measures. Do note that there is no longer a requirement for inflight social distancing.

Take note however of the following SOPs that are currently in place:

Malaysia Airlines

Find the full details of Malaysia Airlines’ SOPs here.

AirAsia

Find the full details of AirAsia’s SOPs here.

SOPs at Airports

Source: The Star

Airports in Malaysia, including KLIA and KLIA2, have standard precautions in place,  such as 

  • Body temperature checks at entrance of every terminal
  • Physical distancing markers
  • Anti-microbial sneeze guards (plastic shields) at service counters 
  • Regular sanitisation and disinfection
  • Updated safety information on digital screens
  • Only allow visitors who are classified as “Low Risk”, or “Casual Contact with No Symptoms” under MySejahtera to be allowed into terminals

International Travel Requirements

Source: Xinhuanet

International travel is now allowed for fully vaccinated individuals. For returning Malaysians,  a negative Covid-19 medical screening is needed within 3 days of departure and another swab is to be done upon arrival.

A 7 day home quarantine is allowed upon return, but any individuals who have tested positive are to be isolated in quarantine centres.

Do check with specific countries and states on their individual requirements. Travel rules and more information can be found here.

Travel Tips

Source: Sutterhealth

If you’ve decided to go ahead with your family trip, read on for some safe travel tips to help you on your flight: 

1. Limit flight durations

Shorter flight duration equals less exposure to virus. Definitely a plus point for those restless kids too! Avoid eating onboard, if you can, and try not to remove masks unnecessarily. Aim for flights below 2 hours when onboard meals will usually not be served. The less number of people removing their masks (especially at the same time), the safer it is!  

2. Choose your time carefully

As the government has removed the requirement for in-flight social distancing, try travelling during off-peak hours. We know it’s not ideal to travel in the wee hours of the morning with grumpy kids, so here are some ways to keep them happy and entertained.

3. Go contactless when possible 

From digital payments to check-ins using mobile apps, utilising touchless tech helps to keep things as fast and secure as possible, in order to reduce your physical contact with shared surfaces.

4. Board a bit later

The air people breathe while flying is some of the most filtered air in travel, thanks to its top-notch filtration system. However, when the plane is on the ground, circulated air may flow at a slower rate – so  you don’t have to rush to board so soon. 

5. Stay in your seat

Getting up and moving about puts you closer to other people. Visit the loo before boarding, pack that favourite blankie in your handbag and download a range of apps that will keep your kids glued to their seat.

6. Keep the air vent open 

This will help with improving the air flow, especially when the plane is stagnant. Don’t forget to bring extra sweaters though, to keep the kids snug and warm on their journey. 

Source: Chicago Parent

Remember, parents: always keep yourselves informed with the current updates and recommendations by the CDC. Whether you opt to take that plane ride for the long or short haul (or if you decide to delay your trip a little longer), we trust you to know what’s best for you and your family.

Safe travels, #makchicmumtribe!

Looking for more travel-related tips? Read our earlier articles on how to choose a family holiday destination during a pandemic and how to reduce the drama when travelling with kids. 

Elaine is a mummy of two who moved from the financial world to become an early childhood educator. She loves travelling, books and her cup of tea to unwind after a long day of diapers, school runs and pretend play.