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Masks & Bigger Hand Sanitizers Are The Latest Carry-On Travel Essentials—Plus Local Airline Updates Every Traveler Should Know

With airlines eyeing to resume travel on June 1, new rules and requirements are put into place

New quarantine rules and regulations have been announced this week as the country prepares to transition from an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to a general community quarantine (GCQ). But what does this mean for air travel? 

With most of Metro Manila now on Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) until May 31, major airlines have renewed the cancellation of all flights from Metro Manila, Cebu and Clark until the end of the month. This is in accordance to the guidelines set by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the management of emerging infectious diseases, barring all domestic flights and limiting international flights to returning or leaving OFWs and repatriating Filipinos.

In a travel advisory released by Philippine Airlines, the official flag carrier plans to operate on a reduced number of weekly flights on domestic and international routes by June 1, depending on “COVID-19 conditions: community quarantine restrictions, travel bans imposed by various governments and their impact on passenger demand, and above all on the public health and safety situation in each of the countries that PAL serves.”

New travel guidelines

While traveling for leisure may not be a good idea anytime soon, those who need to travel domestically or internationally must adhere to new rules and regulations by the airport and the airlines that encourage contactless travel and social distancing. 

Both Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific have made wearing of face masks mandatory for all passengers and crew. Cebu Pacific passengers and staff, in particular, will be given alcohol-based hand sanitizers at the airport and inside the aircraft, while PAL has designated areas for hand sanitizing stations.

CebPac flights have announced new measures set in place to address the utmost safety of passengers. Carry-on baggage will be limited to one per passenger, and middle seats will be kept vacant as much as possible to promote social distancing. Changing of seats will not be allowed.

Passengers are also encouraged to check-in online for reduced contact, and come to the airport at least two hours before their flight in anticipation of slower operations due to regular disinfection and additional safety requirements.

From sanitizing passenger seats to thorough cleaning of the lavatories and any other surfaces that passengers may come into contact, as well as ensuring that each aircraft is equipped with High Efficiency Particulate Arrestor (HEPA) filters, both airlines are committed to implementing strict protocols in disinfecting the cabins of their fleet of aircrafts.

Hand sanitizers in your carry-on

If you travel often, you’ll be familiar with the international flight regulation of all airports on Liquids, Aerosoles, and Gels (LAGs) in your carry-on baggage. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, all items that fall under these categories are limited to only 100 ml (3.4 oz) per bottle, placed in one quart-sized, clear container.

However, in response to the need for frequent disinfection, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)  has more than tripled its carry-on allowance for hand sanitizers. From the standard 100-ml allowance, air passengers may now bring liquid hand sanitizers of up to 355 ml (12 oz) in size.

This means you can bring one (1) 355-ml bottle or several small bottles totaling 355 ml (12 oz) collectively. Hand sanitizer bottles bigger than 355 ml will need to be screened separately, which may add more time to your checkpoint screening.

Take note that this is strictly for liquid hand sanitizers only. All other LAGs will still follow the 100-ml cap. Inquiries on the @AskTSA Twitter account can provide more information on specific concerns of travelers. 

Bottles of alcohol must still follow the original 100-ml (3.4 oz) size restriction and placed in a quart-sized plastic bag, with other liquids. Only one liquids bag is still allowed per passenger.

On bringing alcohol in your carry-on

Your new travel essential

The best advice is still to wash your hands as frequently as possible with soap and water, with hand sanitizers and alcohol as good alternatives when you don't have access to bathroom. However, one travel essential you might want to include in your carry-on are disinfecting wipes.

Take your cue from supermodel Naomi Campbell's travel routine which includes wiping down her seat and its surrounding areas before getting settled for her flight. And yes, disinfecting wipes are very much allowed in flight, according to TSA, without any restriction in size or amount and need not be included in your liquids bag. 

DIY hand sanitizer

While PAL and CebPac have promised to provide designated areas for hand sanitizing and hand sanitizers respectively, you may still bring your own hand sanitizer for personal use. 

If you find alcohol to be too harsh or drying on your skin, why not concoct your own moisturizing sanitizer? To make your own hand sanitizer, combine two (2) parts alcohol, one part (1) aloe vera gel, and a few drops of your preferred essential oil. Just remember to keep within the present size restrictions in place for LAGs.

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