People Now Believe It’s Ok To Fly When They Have Covid

We’re in a strange place in the pandemic where increasingly people think it is ok to travel while infectious with Covid-19. It is not ok to travel when you are sick and that was true before the pandemic, even though CDC advice used to say that it generally is ok for many people.

I was surprised that even a meaningful number of presumably Covid-cautious people think traveling-with-Covid is now ok. “[O]ne in four people who follow a cautious doctor who writes frequently about Covid..think that a known symptomatic Covid case should still go to a terminal and get on a flight.”

But wait, it turns out that masking requirements lead to a sense of security that causes symptomatic Covid patients to feel it’s ok to travel. Eliminating masking rules caused this cautious doctor not to do so. No mask rules = less Covid spread. Go figure.

Had mask rules still been in place, he would have traveled, thinking that everyone was protected (which gives the average mask worn by travelers way too much credit). But since mask rules have been vacated, he deemed travel-with-Covid to be ill-advised.

There’s a lot embedded here about where we are socially with regards to the pandemic and what our embedded beliefs are about risks and what we owe other people.

It seems to me that it’s generally safe to go about normal life at the moment because vaccines plus boosters remain strongly protective against the bad outcomes we care about, that if we do get sick there’s a cure that not enough people are taking (Paxlovid, though FDA advice is undermining treatment in cases where Paxlovid is ending too early). It’s still advisable for some people to wear good masks, and fortunately with mask rules no longer in place you can wear N95 or even P100 masks with valves now.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. People were already flying sick and not covering their coughs. I don’t think it matters, as the people who really need to protect themselves should protect themselves with the best respirator they can find.

  2. Some nuance here… think theres many people would be willing to cancel/delay a trip if they had covid, but if they caught covid while on a trip would fly home.

  3. The amount of people who don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom just shows how much Americans really care about health. Even during the pandemic tons of men would just pee/poop and walk right out. Disgusting.

  4. @mon

    In addition to that, just look at all the people who never (like probably 80+%) that don’t even wash their hands before eating in a restaurant, on a plane or anywhere else, like cruise ships. The good thing about Covid19 was the fact most places had hand sanitizer on tables and entry ways.

  5. What exactly are you supposed to do… stay at home?

    I feel like anyone who wants to stay at home is still free to do so. I went to the Miami Heat game a few weeks ago with a whole crew of COVID positive people.

  6. @mon you’re not a biologist and that makes you a bigot. you have no idea how these persons identify.

  7. If I knew the flight was full of anti-vaxxers I would fly fly and not care. Otherwise I would drive.

  8. One thing this whole mess might do is make Americans realize what a sterile bubble we’ve been living in. I remember years ago traveling through India and someone mentioned that people in the U.S. really didn’t understand how most of the world had to deal with public health at a much lower level than they did. We don’t think about how our tap water is potable or the garbage being collected. Perhaps now (well, for a while anyway) we’ll realize that nature isn’t just “out there” in the national parks and such, we are very much a part of the chain of life. (The other good thing could be huge advances in genetics, cytology, and immunology. This was turning into the century of biology anyway, and Covid gave it a big kick in that direction. Now if we only knew which little start-up was going to be the next Apple or Microsoft….)

  9. @ drrichard 1000% this. My friends in developing countries were shocked that so many Americans, Europeans, etc were anti-vaxxers. They asked if we had seen kids die of polio or other “everyday” diseases they have in their countries. Of course we dont because we vaccinated for Polio and shingles etc and basically eliminated them, but if you live in a developing country not so much. They were begging for vaccines so they could go back to work and make money to live, meanwhile in the “developed” world we couldnt even be content staying at home with clean water, internet, TV, delivery and free government money without complaining.

  10. Easy solution just don’t test. Who cares literally 70% or more of the country has had covid. If you have concerns just stay home for the rest of your life. There are tons of studies which show the vast majority are asymptomatic so odds are someone next to you has covid. Again, judging by how the airports are packed and less then 10% of the people on planes are wearing masks, I’m pretty sure no one cares.

  11. It is ok. I had Covid 2 weeks ago. Of course I’m unvaccinated and my symptoms were those of a cold/allergies and a runny nose. As long as a person wears a mask and coughs in a mask when infected with Covid, it’s no big deal. Family members were double and triple vaxxed and boosted and they got the same symptoms.

    If people traveled with a cold before Covid, the is no reason why those with Covid shouldn’t travel if the sick wear a mask. Be honest: all the people susceptible to the flu and Covid complications are dead. No need to worry about a cold.

  12. It’s everyone for themselves these days (for better or worse). Better learn to fend for yourself or don’t go out in public.

  13. The thoughtless ignoramuses are increasing exponentially. I don’t need anyone to tell me to isolate myself if I have an infectious disease. Neither should anyone else need to be told that. It’s been true since the beginning, if you’re worried about getting sick, wear a mask or stay home. You surely can’t rely on your fellow man to use any judgement, it’s all about them and their personal wants.

  14. There’s fewer “safety nets” for those who get covid and have to stay in their vacation destination longer; and those that do exist are not enjoyable. Folks that can get on a plane, will, because we’re disincentivizing them to do the right thing. Airlines make you jump through hoops (as you demonstrated last week) to reschedule flights due to covid. Without controls that make doing the right thing bearable and endurable, why would people inconvenience themselves for the good of others? There’s little personal responsibility nowadays. With the removal of mask mandates; I assume many have it and wear masks that we *think* protect us.

  15. The average person has really lousy medical judgment. That is why over 1 million Americans have died from Covid-19. Supporters of the Republican and Democratic parties both have huge numbers of people with lousy medical judgment.

  16. Gary Leff also has bad medical judgment. Saying mask requirements make people think it is ok to travel when having Covid-19? With no mask requirement, the majority of people shop indoors in crowded supermarkets with no mask. That is such lousy medical judgment, worse than having sex with an anonymous gay man or prostitute without a condom. At least there you are having fun. Mere supermarket shopping is not so fun that it should be done with no N95 mask.

  17. Wouldn’t even hesitate. If you would have flown three years ago, there’s no reason not to fly now. Even if you argue this scam was real, I would still consider getting on the flight. Also, I wouldn’t base my decision on whether or not I’ve been injected with the experimental gene therapy. They are an abject failure, along with Paxlovid and since they do nothing to reduce transmission, what’s the point?

  18. Paxlovid! Brilliant. Can you please write me an RX and then fill it and then bring it over to the house!!!

  19. In 2020 3,383,729 people died in USA from all causes. This translates to 9,720/day.
    Covid DEATHS 7-DAY AVG on May 12 is 305 (and this includes those dying with Covid but not from Covid alone). Thus, Covid accounts for <3% all deaths right now. I suggest just relax and enjoy your trip with or without a mask.

  20. Why is this surprising, even many of your readers think it is fine. It is further proof that Americans are the most selfish people. There is zero concern about others. I am guessing @Jackass Waterson would be finding those catching Covid from him on the flight were simple not in the country legally.

  21. And people were flying with the flu since time immemorial. Just let people be!

  22. If airlines and hotels were more flexible in their policies, then I think more people would stay home if they were sick, but if the hotels are airlines are slowly returning to change fees and cancelation penalties, then people will fly sick. Pretty simple.

  23. I managed to catch COVID on a work trip and tested out of consideration of my co-workers I was working with and one that I was sharing a condo with….. I then staid a few extra days eating antiviral meds to lesson the symptoms and then flew back home (while positive). My employer paid for the ticket change but did not cover my additional time needed in a hotel. I at least have sick time…. if you are vaxxed you are going to move about the country as you did before the pandemic… I think many of our employers will expect this….. I also see COVID at least in many peoples minds as nothing more then the FLU, some folks are serious with the FLU and others not. I would like to consider myself on the serious side of things but after a couple extra days in California paying out of pocket and not to enjoy myself…. I was ready to come home… I guess I’m better then some and worse than others……

  24. Wearing masks do not work, if they do show me the science. You cannot because the true science and studies show clearly they do not work to protect anyone. Covid was and is a strain of the flu. A serious strain, but no less a strain of the flu. If it is not, show me the science. You cannot, because the there is none. Same with vaccines, show me what’s in them. You cannot because the pharmacy companies refused to add the lis ingredients with the vaccines. Show me the science of variants. You cannot because they have none. The CDC is a private organization who execs had large investments in vaccine companies. Prove me wrong.

  25. Wow. Since the percentage of international flights coming into the US pales in comparison to the daily domestic flights, it seems to me that if the CDC really wanted to keep COVID from moving around/spreading, they should demand negative COVID tests for domestic flights too. Won’t happen. Can’t practically happen. But this shows you (from another angle) the ridiculousness of the COVID testing policy for US citizens returning to the US. Write to the White House to tell them to CHANGE THIS POLICY.. (Lobbying, writing campaigns DO WORK!)

  26. @mon and @skooby

    And then they return to work at McDonald’s and Chipotle.

    I have personally observed this.

    I will NEVER eat at a fast food place again.

  27. @Don in Atl

    I agree. I also believe the covid tests they require are a total failure with Omicron variants. Everybody should know by now (except the CDC), that Antigen tests aren’t working on Omicron until several days go by, and throat samples is the only way to get a positive result prior to that period. Mostly all countries use the PCR test. So, they need to quit with the theatre gimmicks.

  28. @CW your comments went into the moderation queue (software flagged for some reason) and it’s Saturday morning I’m at the beach with my daughter, not checking the queue real time. and you assume it’s some sort of nefariousness on my part after less than an hour?

    I mean, your comment was pretty ignorant but it’s fine for you to reveal that publicly.

    Cloth masks are indeed useless against Covid, properly-fitting and properly-worn N95 masks have reasonably good effectiveness. Vaccines targeting the original Wuhan strain of the virus don’t do a great job protecting against infection (but still maintain some effectiveness), they do a great job against severe disease, though effectiveness does seem to wane within a few months [as do some other inoculations].

    The virus though is more serious than the flu, especially in an immune naive population. It’s something that most people recover from, and most dangerous to older people and those with significant comorbidities. The number of people that have died from it underscore its seriousness, how full ICUs became on multiple occasions does as well – something we don’t generally see from flu. And it’s much more contagious.

  29. No sir! My comment was fact. Your reply is what the CDC wants you to believe of which I’m not surprised you have bought into their lies. Enough bantering back and forth. Have a good day at the beach!

  30. Sure we should all believe a random idiot on a travel blog rather than the CDC and other Public Health organizations for our public health information.

  31. Does his thought process apply to STD also no more rubbers Just because she said she is on the pill means she will not get pregnant.

  32. Does his thought process apply to STD also no more rubbers Just because she said she is on the pill means she will not get pregnant. Good thinking

  33. @CW…Gary, is clearly the “ignorant” one. He has bought every narrative of this psyop from day one and continues to promote the “jabs”, face diapers and many other “solutions” that have been proven as utter failures. He’s clearly part of the delusional 30% who are trapped in what Mattias Desmet refers to as “Mass Formation Psychosis”.

  34. @James N
    Like every other scientist here you have yet to prove anything but your own imagination.
    You have no cred just like CW and crybabies who don’t like wearing masks and won’t get vaccinated and never fly. Since you won’t wear a mask, when is the last time you flew on a commercial airplane? In the last 2 years I’ll bet Rogyou haven’t. Like Chump you’re a chickenshit liar.

  35. @CW do believe the science that the earth is round? Reading your comments confirms if I knew I was sick with Covid and I could sit next to you I would. While you were on your death bed you would keep insisting it is not Covid.

  36. I am generally not a fan of masks anymore. If you are not vaccinated, tough luck, you assume the risk of a negative outcome. Not my problem.

    That said covid is running rampant in our community now – from what I’ve observed the high school kids are bringing it home and infecting their families. This variant is basically hitting everyone who managed to avoid the prior strains by wearing masks and vaccinating.

    So until this wave subsides, I plan to wear a 3M N95 mask with valve on my next TATL flights. Because I don’t want a positive test that will delay my return to USA (not to mention risk of medical care overseas). Fortunately I was just boosted, so protection will max out the next month.

  37. Add Rog to the 30% with Gary. It’s fascinating, but not surprising, that people can remain in this state of ignorance.

  38. Rog that was my point, no one has proved anything. If you have the proof in the areas I mentioned, lay it out. You can’t, because it doesn’t exist.

  39. Rog BTW I fly every week in my job and didn’t a wear mask when I walked through airports during the Plandemic except when going through security and on planes. I also work in healthcare.

  40. Never overestimate the IQ of the typical American Idiot. That’s why CoVid has killed over 1 million Americans. When you live in a country where the American Idiots elect a President who defunds the police, then crime runs rampant, and then said President decides we need to fund the police, what do you expect? Kinda like the arsonist calling the fire truck. Meanwhile, laziness and inconsideration assure CoVid is about to make a raging comeback. So American Idiots get exactly what they deserve.

  41. Some of these replies are disgusting. My Dad has a couple of other health conditions that mean, if he catches Covid, despite being 4x vaccinated, he will probably die from it. Kids under 5 still can’t be vaccinated and we need some humility to recognize that we do not fully understand the long-term effects of this virus yet, so while kids may appear to do very well with Covid for the most part, we are also consigning a certain percentage of them to long Covid or other future bad effects. Going to events and flying while knowingly Covid positive is just about the most selfish, careless, and disgusting thing I can think of. Truly flabbergasted at the amount of assholery in the comments.

  42. If the US was serious about COVID safety it would issue a QR coded vaccination certificate and require all flyers to be fully vaccinated (or recovered) and not have nixed masks (quick court appeal to qualified judges not an unqualified recent appointee).

  43. @DavidB

    I agree. The USA was the only country touting a piece of paper that anybody and their mother could counterfeit. Even Mexico has a QR code and a organized procedure to get vaccinated. So, no the USA wasn’t serious about covid safety, it was just a dog an pony show.

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