Airlines Are Actually Reducing Potential COVID-19 Exposure by Returning to Pre-pandemic Boarding Methods, Study Suggests

Airlines Are Actually Reducing Potential COVID-19 Exposure by Returning to Pre-pandemic Boarding Methods, Study Suggests

“Random” boarding might be the safest option for travelers

Airlines including Delta, JetBlue, and United temporarily switched to back-to-front plane boarding during the pandemic to cut down on unnecessary close contact between passengers. But a new study says this method — filling aisles one-by-one from the back — could actually double your chance of being exposed to COVID-19 compared to random boarding.

Using middle seats and letting passengers stow luggage in overhead bins also increases the risks of COVID-19 exposure, according to the study published in the Royal Society Open Science journal Wednesday.

Scientists from US colleges including West Florida and Arizona State simulated various boarding processes and looked at how often people came into close contact with other passengers. Bloomberg first reported on the study.

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The scientists said that airlines introduced back-to-front boarding so that people could avoid passing by people sat in other rows when they took their seats.

But the research found that back-to-front boarding increased the amount of contact between pairs of seated passengers, and between pairs of passengers in the aisle.

The scientists said airlines could have had a roughly 50% lower risk of infection if they stuck to their pre-COVID-19 boarding process, where they typically let the business class boards first, followed by the economy class, with passengers sorted into various zones.

“Our results suggest that the new boarding procedures increase the risk of exposure to COVID-19 compared with prior ones and are substantially worse than a random boarding process,” the scientists wrote.

JetBlue and United have both dropped the policy, and Delta is reverting to its pre-pandemic boarding from May 1.

The researchers also said banning the use of overhead bins to stow luggage “significantly” reduces exposure. This is because passengers often cluster in the aisles while they wait for other people to stow their luggage.

The report added that keeping middle seats empty reduced the risk of exposure, too, echoing a recent CDC report that said that middle-seat blocking may reduce COVID-19 spread on airplanes by up to 57%.

Delta is the only major US airline still blocking middle seats, but has said it would stop doing so May 1. The Trade organization Airlines for America indicated to Insider’s Thomas Pallini that it wouldn’t recommend any changes following the CDC’s report.

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Apple Maps Will Now Show You COVID-19 Information at Your Airport

Apple Maps Will Now Show You COVID-19 Information at Your Airport

The new feature will help make your next trip safer and easier.

As COVID-related travel restrictions start to ease, people are getting back to traveling. But it’s going to be a little confusing figuring out the specific, up-to-date guidelines for your destination.

But luckily there is a way to find specific guidelines if you’re an iOS user. The Airports Council International announced that Apple Maps will begin displaying COVID-19 airport travel guidance directly on the map.

So if you have an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, you can easily access local airport health requirements, such as face coverings, health tests or screenings, and quarantine guidelines just by searching for your destination’s airport on the app.

Apple Maps worked directly with the Airports Council International to add this update to more than 300 airports across the globe.

“The recovery of air travel will rely on passenger confidence in the industry’s focus on their health and welfare,” said ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira in a statement. “Having this information displayed in Apple Maps will help to make this crucial data much more broadly accessible to passengers. This will help passengers to plan their journeys and be reassured that their health and safety remains a priority for the industry as we all work towards a sustained return to operations and global connectivity. Collaboration remains key to a globally coordinated recovery and we are grateful to our members for the partnership we have forged to deliver this important tool that will contribute to the rebuilding of passenger confidence in air travel.”

Having this kind of information right at your fingertips is one way Apple is helping combat the spread of COVID-19. By knowing exactly what guidelines to follow, travelers can easily prepare for a safe and healthy journey.

In addition to Apple Maps, the Airports Council International also provides health and safety information on its Check & Fly mobile app and passenger portal.

More information can be found on the Airports Council International website.

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COVID: Holidaymakers to be slapped with a hefty £5,000 fine

COVID: Holidaymakers to be slapped with a hefty £5,000 fine

The increased fine is a reflection of the increased risk of holidaying abroad

A hefty fine of £5,000 is be imposed on holidaymakers or anyone departing from England without a good excuse before the end of June. This tightening of the country’s border controls is due to come into force as part of new coronavirus laws. 

The road map out of lockdown states that no international travel is allowed until May 17 2021 yet his new measure means that travel may not be allowed for a further 5 weeks.

There will be a vote on Thursday and If approved, the new measure will become law on March 29.

The increased fine is a reflection of the increased risk of holidaying abroad due to another surge in Covid cases in continental Europe and the slow rollout of vaccines across Europe.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock explained that the restrictions on travelling abroad were necessary to guard against the importation of large numbers of cases and new variants, which might put the vaccine rollout at risk.

The government’s global travel task force is looking at creating a traffic light or tiered system for international travel to be put into place when the ban on leaving the country is lifted.

Interestingly, embedded in the new rules is the right to protest about the new legislation.

And confusingly, even though the new laws won’t expire until 30 June, Health Secretary Matt Hancock hinted that foreign holidays could be allowed before that date. The road map cites May 17 as the first possible date when travel without a good excuse – i.e. work or eduction – however, it will depend on the results of the government’s travel review of which are due to become available on April 12.

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