(CONSUMER REPORTS) -- Planning on traveling through the air for the holidays?
"I don’t really have anything planned for the holidays, but if something was to come up I probably would go," one person told Consumer Reports. Another said, "I plan to go home for Christmas if possible." And another person claimed, "If we do travel, we would probably drive."
Although it’s likely more people will stay home this year than what’s expected for a typical holiday season, if you do plan on flying during November and December, there’s always the possibility of a jam-packed flight.
"Knowing how the airlines operate, particularly this year where it’s been so terrible for them financially, our concern is that they’re going to be maximizing profits by parking aircrafts and not using as many crews," Bill McGee said. He’s an aviation analyst with Consumer Reports. As a result, he expects flights could be fuller over the holidays.
The CDC and airlines say that most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes.
But Consumer Reports remains concerned about the lack of social distancing and mask policies on board airplanes. And what about the airports?
"There are a lot of chokepoints, particularly in smaller and older airports, where social distancing becomes very difficult," McGee said.
Some airports are responding to those challenges by implementing new technologies, like automatic electronic access points, also known as E-Gates that help reduce points of human contact and ease congestion bottlenecks.
Consumer Reports says there are even more ways to keep you and your family safe, and some of those start before you book.
Contact the airline and check if they guarantee empty middle seats, and how strictly it enforces mask-wearing. Then check again right before you fly in case a change has been made.
Also, see if you can book a flight for earlier in the day. Consumer Reports says that’s when airplanes are the cleanest.
"If you’re on a 6:30 a.m. flight you’re probably going to get on a plane that just received a heavy cleaning."
If all of that still sounds too risky or too much of a hassle, consider not flying at all.
And finally, Consumer Reports says if you are making travel plans for the holidays, try to look for flexible bookings in case you want to make a last-minute cancellation.