With the all the media hype about Swine Flu, it’s not unreasonable to think about trying to avoid unnecessary public outings, including air travel. But the FAA and the CDC only warn against flying if you’re already feeling the symptoms of an illness or if you’ve come in contact with someone who’s seriously at risk of contracting the F1N1 flu virus.

Federal officials have just asked that everyone consider common health safety precautions when they’re in public and surrounded by other travelers. Because discount airfare, in particular, often fill up fast, making for crowded planes and airports, you’ll want to follow these basic guidelines for keeping yourself healthy on your flights.

  1. Keep in mind that everything you touch, including your airline tickets, the handles on your bags, and your ID, have the potential to be touched by someone else and vice versa so wash your hands more than often with soap and water, lathering for at least 30 seconds.
  2. Carry hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes (in a small enough container to pass carry-on regulations) with you everywhere. You can essentially wash your hands anytime any place and wipe down any plastic surface you come in contact with ¬ armrests on airplane and airport seats, ticket counters, etc - when you’re armed with these two items.
  3. Avoid using the pillows and blankets on airline flights. Believe it or not, whether you’re flying on cheap flights or premium airlines, the planes don’t have a washing machine or dryer hooked up in the back to sanitize pillows and blankets between flights. Bring your own pillow or blanket as a shield against the seats themselves.
  4. You’ll be hard-pressed to find cheap flights that aren’t crowded with travelers; as a common hygiene practice, make sure to sneeze and cough into your own body, preferably into the bend of your arm. Always carry tissues to avoid spreading any of those germs to other passengers.
  5. As helpful as flight attendants, ticket counter, and baggage claim employees can be and as much as we appreciate what they do, it wouldn’t be unheard of to kindly request to handle your own belongings if possible at this time. Many of the discount airlines don’t charge for checked baggage, but you might want to still consider carrying-on your luggage on these cheap flights to avoid having the ticket counter and baggage handlers germ up your bags.
  6. Airlines have probably already started opening up cheap airline tickets to Mexico and areas of the country that have had Swine Flu outbreaks, but federal officials do warn against traveling to these places and they ask travelers to be particularly cautious around friends and family who may have recently visited those parts of the world.
  7. Remember that you’re usually contagious one week prior to exhibiting symptoms of the flu, so if you think you may have come in contact with someone who could be carrying the flu this might be one of the few reasons to postpone your airline tickets for another time.
  8. You can never be too cautious, so wearing a mask in public to protect yourself from other traveler’s germs and to keep yours from spreading may be a good idea.
  9. Remember that just once you’ve stepped off the plane that doesn’t mean you’re out of harms way. If you’re going to be staying in a hotel room and you have space in your suitcase, you might want to pack your own sheet and pillow case.

By: Joseph Lawsomier

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