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COVID-19: Five Ways to Stay Healthy When You Fly

March 13, 2020

Governor Jay Inslee recently announced new measures that limit the number of people at events, and mandate social distancing to minimize COVID-19 exposure in Washington state. 

Transportation systems are not included in the limit for the number of people; however, the Governor asked those transportation systems (including buses, light rail, ferries and airports) to increase their vigilance, as they have been, to maintain frequent cleaning of their facilities.  

The Port and our airline partners have implemented new cleaning protocols and made policy changes to prevent the spread of coronavirus in our facility.

If you need to travel, be sure to check with your airline and our travel update page to stay up to date on any changes that may impact your plans. If your flight is on schedule and you feel healthy, remember to keep calm and pack your hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes. Here are five ways you can stay healthy while you fly:

1. Maintain good hygiene

Hand washing

Wash your hands often and use hand sanitizer. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds; remember to lather the backs of the hands, between the fingers, and under the nails. Use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Cover your mouth and nose if you sneeze or cough with a tissue or use the inside of your elbow and throw used tissues in the trash. Follow up with hand washing or hand sanitizer.

  • Tip: Pack a bottle of hand sanitizer in your carry on. Recognizing that health officials are now advising people to wash their hands frequently, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is now allowing passengers to bring liquid hand sanitizer in containers up to 12 ounces in their carry on until further notice.  Learn more

As of March 9, the Port of Seattle has installed 119 hand sanitizers in and around the terminal. This includes sanitizer stations at the checkpoints, in the skybridges, common use ticket kiosks areas, the rideshare pick up area in the third care of the parking garage, and rental car bus stops. The Port intends to install an additional 200 dispensers.

2. Wipe down communal surfaces

Wipe down communal surfaces

Pack disinfecting wipes in your carry on and use them to wipe down common areas throughout the airport from check in, to gate, to plane. Touch screens, door handles, seating and dining areas, as well as frequently-used objects that you touch with your hands should all be wiped down. Bleach-based wipes and solutions with at least 60 percent alcohol can kill the coronavirus. Once you’re seated on the plane, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket, and the tray table. 

  • Worried about germs as you travel through the airport? The Port has increased cleaning frequencies at all high touch point areas, such as escalator handrails, elevator buttons, ticketing kiosk, badge readers, stairwell handrails, door handles, gate hold room seating, armrests, tables, STS train grip bars, inside restroom doorknobs, food court tables, and chairs.
  • Airlines have increased cleaning in their gate holding areas, passenger loading bridges, and airplanes. This is in addition to the regular cleanings between flights. Check with your airline to learn about enhanced cleaning protocols on your flight.

3.    Keep items out of your mouth

When we’re traveling, many of us place pens, boarding passes, parking tickets, and more into our mouths without even noticing it and then hand those items to other people like parking attendants, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers, or flight crew.  Be conscientious about keeping your hands or other items out of your mouth.  

4.    Keep your distance

Keep your distance

During your travel journey, look for opportunities to stay six feet, or an arm’s length from others. One of the ways coronavirus is spread is between people who are in close contact with one another or through respiratory droplets with an infected person coughs or sneezes.  If six feet isn’t possible, even a little distancing helps, according to experts. 

Limit your interactions with others by using mobile ordering apps. You can order on the website or apps at Evergreens Salad, QDOBA, and Beecher’s Handmade Cheese then pick it up on your way to the gate. And several fast-casual restaurants like Camden Foods Co., McDonald’s, and Pei Wei Asian Kitchen offer kiosk ordering. 

Have questions while you’re travelling? Download the SEA Airport App for an airport directory you can store right in your pocket. You’ll find flight information, security checkpoint wait times, a parking space reminder, and an interactive travel map to help you navigate the airport, all at your fingertips.

5.    Take care

Protect other people from infection and give yourself the time you need to recuperate by staying home if you are not feeling well. Check with your airline to see if they are offering waivers or can help you reschedule your flight during this time. Check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website and the State Department website to learn about any travel advisories or the status of the coronavirus outbreak in your final destination.

Learn more

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