I flew back to New York after it declared a state of emergency due to the coronavirus outbreak. Here's how I prepared for and protected myself during my flight home.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderI brought my own water bottle, hand sanitizer, and wipes to prepare for my US domestic flight during the coronavirus outbreak.

My flight home during the coronavirus outbreak wasn’t very different from a typical US domestic economy flight, but one significant difference was my mindset.

I was very conscious of germs involved in every part of the process – from checking in to buckling my seatbelt – and I made efforts to minimise them as much as possible.

In the end, I realised the most important thing I did was something I already knew to do – wash my hands.

Here’s how I avoided germs on my flight home during the coronavirus outbreak.


First, I checked in for my flight online.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderA screenshot of an online check-in from a flight in August 2018.

This way, I didn’t have to touch the machine used to print boarding passes and I avoided physical contact with airport employees.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderThe check-in station at JFK Airport’s Terminal 5.

Source: Business Insider


I also ate breakfast before I went to the airport to avoid additional human contact and germs that linger in airport food courts.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderI got breakfast tacos with my friend before I headed to the airport.

Source: CNBC


When I first got to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, I saw no one.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderThe check-in area appeared to be empty.

This could be because as the coronavirus spreads, people are travelling less and more than 100 airlines have cancelled flights.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderJust a few people were seen at the other end of the room.

Source: Business Insider, Business Insider


Another explanation could be that more people are checking in online to avoid additional contact, as I did.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderNo one was checking in at my airline, Jet Blue.

There was only a 3-7-minute wait time at the TSA checkpoint, where I contained all my liquids and electronics in one bin and put my bags and shoes directly on the belt.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderI only used one bin, and I made sure to wear socks.

I did this to expose my belongings to as few germs as possible.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderI put my camera, laptop, and liquids in the same bin.

Source: Business Insider


After I went through security, I went straight to the bathroom to wash my hands.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderI went to the restroom near the security checkpoint.

This is one of the best ways to protect yourself from spreading viruses.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderWashing my hands in the airport restroom.

Source: Business Insider


Remember to thoroughly wash your hands for about 20 seconds, and don’t forget to about those fingernails.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderWashing my hands with soap.

Source: CDC


Then I filled up my water bottle to avoid unnecessary contact with flight attendants on the plane.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderStaying hydrated is important for protecting yourself against illness.

I walked slowly to my gate in a somewhat crowded terminal to maintain at least 6 feet of space between myself and the travellers around me because the novel coronavirus can spread to people up to 6 feet apart.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderI stayed about 6 feet away from people in front of me.

Source: Business Insider


Normally, I’d be all over this toy store to kill time, but not today — too many potential germs.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderA Toy Joy location in the Austin airport.

At my gate, I looked for the least-crowded area to sit and wait to board …

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderI left Austin out of gate 12.

… which was in the back corner.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderThe back corner of the gate was mostly empty.

I sat in an empty row and I didn’t touch the armrests or use cupholder.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderI sat far from other people.

While waiting to board I noticed not many people were wearing face masks.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderI only saw a couple of people wearing face masks.

Face masks are more effective in preventing the spread of the virus when they’re being worn by those infected, and there is a shortage of them because the supply chains can’t meet the increased demand since the outbreak.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderMe waiting to board my flight home.

Source: Business Insider, Business Insider, Washington Post


When boarding the plane, I had my boarding pass on my phone, eliminating any physical contact between the gate and the plane.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderI kept my distance as I was boarding as well.

Once I got on the plane, I headed to my window seat, which is exposed to fewer germs than the seats closer to the aisle.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderI sat in seat 7F.

Source: Business Insider

Read More:

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I was especially lucky to have no one seated next to me either.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderNo one sat in the middle seat.

Before sitting down, I wiped down my seat thoroughly with wet wipes, including the buttons …

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderI wiped down the TV controls before sitting down.

Source: Business Insider


… the tray table …

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderI made sure to clean every crevice of the hook on the tray table.

Source: Business Insider


… and the inside pocket of the seat in front of me.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderI cleaned the seat pocket before putting items in it.

Source: Business Insider


Then, I sanitised my hands.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderI used Mrs. Meyers hand sanitizer.

When I buckled, I realised I hadn’t wiped it down first …

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderOops.

So I sanitised my hands again. For the remainder of the flight, I sanitised my hands every time I touched anything, which was less than 10 times in the whole 3.5-hour flight.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderThis hand sanitizer contains ethyl alcohol and removes 99.9% of bacteria on skin.

Source: Business Insider


I avoided the aeroplane bathroom because it’s touched by multiple passengers on a flight and it requires you to walk through the aisle of the plane, exposing you to even more germs.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderMe in an aeroplane bathroom in August 2018.

Source: Business Insider


I didn’t hesitate to use the air conditioning vent above my seat because it dispenses clean air, according to Business Insider.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderThe vents above my aeroplane seat.

Source: Business Insider


But I made sure to sanitize my hands after.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderI wiped down this tray table before I put these items on it.

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