Ready for take-off? Top tips to stay safe on your next flight, from wearing a face mask to using the toilet before your board the plane

  • Pack a few face coverings as they’re compulsory in airports and on most planes 
  • Don’t forget to wash or sanitise your hands before, and especially after, security
  • Use the toilets in the terminal before boarding the plane, so you can stay seated 

Every week our Holiday Hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at an important holiday topic, doing all the legwork so you don’t have to. This week: what to expect on your next flight.

The race to the sun has begun as travel restrictions to Europe and beyond start to lift. But airports and planes will be very different this summer, and experts say holidaymakers need a strategy to help cope with the changes.

First, it’s important to pack properly. Face coverings are compulsory in airports and on most planes, so keep a few alongside your passport.

Come fly with us again: Family holidays are back on the agenda – but remember to pack face masks

Hand sanitiser, 2020’s other travel essential, can go through security with liquids and gels as long as the bottle isn’t bigger than 100ml. If you want to take more, larger plastic bottles can go in checked bags. Cabin crew say they pack theirs inside shoes to avoid the bottles getting squashed and leaking.

Packets of anti-bacterial wet wipes can also go through security, as can empty water bottles to be refilled before you fly. Heathrow, Manchester and most other UK airports have contactless water fountains after security. Some airport shops, restaurants and lounges have not reopened so it’s also worth packing more snacks than normal. 

Checking in online or with your airline’s app may be the most effective way to avoid airport queues and reduce contact with others. If you’re checking in luggage, most airlines have self-service kiosks where you can print your own baggage tags before heading to bag-drop desks.

Another tip is to wash or sanitise your hands before, and especially after, security. That’s because it’s the one part of the airport where you’re likely to touch several surfaces and come closer to staff and fellow passengers.

Ask frequent fliers for their top travel tip and many say it’s to use the toilets in the terminal just before boarding the plane. That way they can wash their hands properly and stay seated throughout the flight. Following that lead makes more sense than ever this year.

A new tip for 2020 is to pay attention to announcements at the gate as boarding arrangements are changing. Airlines are testing new ways to get passengers on to planes in small groups to cut the numbers standing in the aisles.

Pay attention to announcements at the gate as boarding arrangements are changing

Once on board, where cabin crew and pilots will all be wearing face coverings, some travellers are using antiviral wipes to sanitise their seat area, focusing on arm-rests, tray tables, seat-belts and any TV screen. Experts say quick cleans like this can’t harm, but easyJet, British Airways and others say they’ve already upped the way they clean these ‘high touch’ areas between flights.

In addition, the airlines say the air on planes should be cleaner than in shops, offices or most places on the ground. Roughly every two minutes, cabin air passes through ‘high-efficiency particulate air’ filters – the same filters used in hospitals – that remove up to 99.9 per cent of dust, fungi, moisture, bacteria and viruses.

After take-off, the amount of food or drink offered depends on the airline. Ryanair and Wizz still sell from trolleys. BA has suspended its buy-on-board food from M&S on short-haul flights but now has free snacks and bottles of water in economy, and modest meal boxes in its Club Europe cabin. While it’s under review, easyJet currently just offers water as it tries to minimise interactions between crew and passengers in the air. 

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