July 6, 2020, © Leeham News: I really, really want to return to traveling by air soon. But I don’t expect to fly until next year.
I’m not worried about being on the airplane. As LNA’s Bjorn Fehrm detailed over a series of Friday posts, the cabin purification technology scrubs the air every few minutes.
The problem is not the airplane.
It’s the people who fly.
It’s as if these passengers still don’t realize there’s a pandemic out there.
And most airlines aren’t enforcing a mask policy. The federal government won’t issue a rule requiring masks.
In the USA, the number of diagnosed cases has exploded. Dr. Anthony Fauci predicts there will be 100,000 new cases daily at this rate.
Deaths in the USA are forecast to hit 150,000 soon.
In the USA, there are plenty of instances where crowds pack beaches and bars failing to practice safe procedures.
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas was one of the first to reopen the state to normalcy. Now, cases and death spiked to much that he backtracked and returned to restrictions. Other Red (Republican) state governors who initially downplayed the threat are now backtracking as virus cases explode.
California, a Blue state, was the first to implement Stay at Home restrictions. Cases declined. Then Memorial Day arrived and the beaches filled without safe practices. Gov. Gavin Newsom is cracking down again after coronavirus cases spiked sharply.
Nearly 20 states reversed steps taken toward opening society.
(In the UK, there was a widely circulated photo of a beach in Bournemouth that was so packed, it seemed one couldn’t move.)
LNA’s Vincent Valery recently flew trans-con US flights. Passengers didn’t wear masks and enplaned/deplaned in the herd we know well from pre-COVID days.
Some airlines block center seats. Others abandoned the practice recently or didn’t do so from the start. (When flights were operating 10% full, blocking seats didn’t matter.)
Blocking center seats really is cosmetic. Social distancing guidelines call for six feet between you and the next person. Blocking a center seat provides about 18 inches wide and 29-30 inches fore-and-aft.
Cabin air recirculates every 2-4 minutes and the filters are effective in removing viruses. But absent masks, as Fehrm wrote in the first of his flying-in-COVID series, droplets surge more than two meters in a cough. With a mask, the droplets are largely contained.
Passengers flying without masks put everyone at risk in those 2-4 minutes, as well as during enplaning and deplaning.
Containing the virus requires passenger cooperation. It’s not there yet.