Is It Safe To Fly With Kids Yet? Experts Weigh In
After being stuck in the house with your stir-crazy kids for months, you might be desperate to salvage what’s left of summer by getting the heck out of your house — and not just for a quick Target run. If you're dreaming of sitting on a beach somewhere relaxing or being with relatives you’ve missed during this tough time, you're definitely not alone. But how will you get there? (Assuming the state you're heading to isn't quarantining visitors from your state, that is.) Is it safe to fly with kids yet?
This summer, parents are looking to get out of Dodge — and fast. That might explain why airlines such as American, United, and Delta are all adding extra flights to their summertime schedules, the New York Times reported. But just because you and your family can fly doesn't mean you should. “At this moment in time, it is not safe for anyone to be traveling on a plane, unless there is a real necessity,” Dr. Giuseppe Aragona, M.D., a family medicine physician, tells Romper. “There are restrictions on flights currently to allow for less passengers per journey, and for less people to be in the airport. I would avoid it completely, for safety.”
You've probably heard people saying that kids rarely contract or spread COVID-19, but medical experts are skeptical. “Kids seem to be less likely to get it and pass it, but I am not comfortable saying that with great certainty,” Dr. Robert A. Saul, M.D., FAAP, FACMG, a pediatrician and professor of pediatrics at Prisma Health Children’s Hospital-Upstate in Greenville, South Carolina, tells Romper. “I personally would not recommend it unless it was absolutely necessary (like a family emergency).”
If air travel is in fact "absolutely necessary" for your kids, here's how to make your trip as safe as possible.
1. Be Prepared
“If you do have to fly, masks and even a face shield would make good sense,” says Saul. And don’t forget to pack the Purell: the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is allowing passengers to bring one container of liquid hand sanitizer up to 12 ounces in carry-on bags. Just keep in mind that these larger containers might mean slower screenings at checkpoints — and wriggly, impatient kids tugging at you while you wait in line.
2. Know What To Expect
Sure, you might make it through the flight with your sanity hanging on by a thread. But what happens when you arrive at your destination? Are numbers spiking in that location? If you’re headed towards a hotspot, you could get infected while traveling, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And even if you don’t show symptoms, you might wind up getting infected and bringing the virus back to your loved ones.
3. Calculate The 14-Day Self-Quarantine
Just because you made it through the flight and TSA unscathed doesn’t mean that you’re going to be able to go directly to your destination. Some states have travel restrictions, reported the New York Times; others, (like Kansas, Idaho, Hawaii, Florida, Connecticut, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, for example), have a 2-week self-quarantine in place for travelers coming into those states, NBC News reported.
4. Know That It’s Going To Be Stressful
Flying under normal circumstances with kids is a challenge. Add onto that a pandemic of epic proportions and know that you’ll need nerves of steel to survive the experience. “Being on a long flight is stressful for children anyway,” says Saul. “Add masks, a face shield, and fewer walks up and down the aisle, and life can be very difficult for the children and the parents.” Additionally, you should try to make sure that your child isn't sitting near a stranger, if possible, and that they minimize the amount of surfaces they touch. Be sure to bring lots of extra snacks, the Washington Post recommended, and if your kids log a lot of screen time during the flight, so be it.
5. Consider A Car Instead
Sure, taking a flight is far faster than road-tripping with your crew. But if you don't have to go too far, you might want to pack everyone into the family car and hit the open road instead. “I would suggest that those looking to vacation with their children look into a car ride instead of getting on a plane,” advises Aragona. “A car journey would be better than a train also, as you are just in that bubble in the car with those on the journey.”
Unless it’s absolutely necessary, it might be a good idea to postpone your travel plans for a little while. That way, when the timing’s right, flying the friendly skies will be a whole lot friendlier (and safer) again.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here.
Dr. Giuseppe Aragona, M.D., family practitioner
Dr. Robert A. Saul, M.D., FAAP, FACMG, a pediatrician and Professor of Pediatrics at Prisma Health Children’s Hospital-Upstate in Greenville, South Carolina