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Tips to help you travel safe for the holidays

Public health officials say staying at home is the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19. However, if you need to fly this holiday season, Consumer Reports offers some tips to help you feel safe at 35,000 feet.

While there will likely be more people this year than there would be during a typical holiday season, there is always the option of a packed flight if you plan to fly in November or December.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and airlines claim that most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights due to air circulation and filtering in airplanes. However, Consumer Reports remains concerned about mask policies and the lack of social distancing on airplanes.

And what about the airports? There are many congestion points, especially at smaller and older airports, where social distancing becomes very difficult. Some airports are responding to this challenge with new technologies, such as automatic electronic access points. Also known as e-gates, they help reduce contact with people and remove bottlenecks.

According to CR, there are even more ways to protect you and your family. Some of these start before you book a flight. Call the airline to see if empty center seats are guaranteed and ask how strictly they enforce the wearing of masks. Then check again just before the flight to see if a change has been made

Also, see if you can book a flight earlier in the day, because that’s the cleanest aircraft according to CR. If you’re on a 6:30 am flight, you’ll likely get on a plane that has just been thoroughly cleaned.

According to CR, with flexible travel plans, look for flexible bookings in case you need to cancel at the last minute. Avoid restrictive fares that prohibit changes or are non-refundable and look for “free cancellation” or “reserve now, pay later” when booking hotel reservations.

If all of this still sounds too risky or too annoying, then avoid traveling altogether and opt for a virtual vacation party instead.

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