Flying in 2021 is still far from normal. Passenger airplanes use circulated air in close quarters. Normally it isn’t much of an issue, but this method became a serious problem when the Covid pandemic hit. Despite the fact that Covid usually spreads via droplets, there is the possibility of aerosolized infection. Let’s look at the best airlines to fly during COVID.
Best Airlines to Fly During Covid
As a result, airlines had to take drastic steps to ensure the safety of their passengers and crew. Reduced passenger loads, mask requirements, and flexible rescheduling are being used to reduce the risks of flying commercially. However, there were some airlines whose response far surpassed their competitors. Using Nerd Wallet’s ranking system, here are the best airlines to fly at this time.
Delta received top marks for its health policies and flexible booking policies.
In regard to their health policies, their closure of popular loopholes, back-to-front boarding, and use of fully blocked seats through May 1, 2021, made it easier to minimize the risk involved in flying. In addition to these in-flight precautions, Delta used passenger self-screening to facilitate better safety conditions, and Covid testing for travel was strongly encouraged.
Flexible booking also made passengers less likely to fly when they were ill. As with many other airlines, Delta offers unlimited changes or vouchers for future travel when a flight needs cancelling.
Alaska ranked second in both considered categories, but fell behind Delta for a number of reasons.
In the health policy category, Alaska was dinged for only providing seat blocking in premium economy. Under this system, you essentially have to pay to ensure proper social distancing. I think we can generally agree that you shouldn’t have to pay more for common-sense protections.
Alaska airlines took these somewhat classist policies to their “flexible booking” arrangements as well. They plan to maintain their current policy of no-fee changes and cancellations even for bookings made after March 31st, 2021, but that will not extend to their “saver fares.”
Jet Blue fell comfortably into third place for their health policies, but the airline did tie with Alaska, Frontier, and Hawaiian for third place in flexible booking policies.
Also, Jet Blue received higher ratings in health for their rigorous cleaning schedule, but they ultimately fell behind due to the lack of seat blocking. Social distancing was advised and enforced by assigned seating but not necessarily guaranteed by a physical barrier.
The middle-of-the-road for flexible booking is a chunky category. Most airlines removed the normal fees associated with changing and canceling flights during the height of the pandemic. Since March, some of the airlines have begun returning to pre-Covid policies.
Southwest nabbed the fourth spot in the overall ranking. But split that position with Frontier, Hawaiian, American, and United in regard to health policies.
In short, Southwest took the minimum measures. But that still places it and all of the other listed airlines above Spirit. Spirit Airlines proved the only ranked airline to receive a zero for their airline health policies score.
On the other hand, Southwest actually came in first alongside Delta for their flexible booking policies. The airline has always had a reputation known for kinder policies. But they really came through when it came to the pandemic.
Lower Ranking Airlines
The airlines scored but not numerically listed here include, Frontier, Hawaiian, American, United, and Spirit airlines. In regard to health policies, all but Spirit employed some level of extra protection for customers during Covid 19. Similarly, all of these airlines somewhat relaxed their rescheduling policies.
Generally speaking Frontier and Hawaiian offered more flexibility. American, United, and Spirit offered a little less but still much more than they did prior to the pandemic.
Hopefully, these ratings will make it easier for you to choose the right airline for you at this time. Both health policies and flexibility are important, but either way, you should always consider Covid-19 same day testing before and after a flight for the maximum security.