COVID-19 exposure on airplane is virtually non-existent, new study says

WARWICK, R.I. (WLNE) – T.F. Green Airport is picking up steam again, but still feeling the effects as people remain hesitant to get on a plane due to the pandemic.

The airport was hit hard by the pandemic and saw a 96% drop in bookings in the March and April. That number is improving and is currently down 70%, but a lot of people still believe it’s risky to get on an airplane.

“The load factors were super low here, people were not traveling,” Lauren Moscato, the General Manager at T.F. Green United Airlines said. “We’re seeing a lot of people getting a little more comfortable traveling again.”

Moscato says like most things, United Airlines transformed in the midst of the pandemic.

“As you go through the airport, from check-in, all the way to your final destination, we’ve got the sneeze guards, we’re ESS spraying at the gate areas, at the ticket counter they do a cleaning every day,” Moscato said. “There’s a deep clean done on the aircraft over night.”

At check-in, kiosks are now touch free and crews use an electrostatic sprayer to clean boarding areas. But still, people remain wary about tight quarters and air quality on planes.

The Department of Defense released a new study that says it’s virtually impossible to contract COVID-19 on an airplane if you’re wearing a mask. There is a 0.003% chance even if you’re sitting right next to someone.

According to the study, HEPA filters on planes coupled with masks and other safety measures make air travel safe.

The study also looked at a 15-hour flight from Guangzhou to Toronto where a symptomatic couple flew and ended up positive with COVID-19. Out of the 350 people on board the flight, no one else contracted the virus.

“HEPA filters in the aircraft are actually better than in your house or car or anywhere else,” Moscato said. “It takes out about 99% of all of the bacteria.”

However, safety is also on travelers and people must do their part, too. Moscato says that means wearing a mask.

Masks are required for most airlines. Passengers who don’t comply, will be kicked off and face being banned.

Some airlines are still blocking off middle rows. While United Airlines is not and is currently booking full flights, passengers have the opportunity to re-book free of charge if they want to switch to a less crowded one.

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Rhode Island, Warwick