Leaving on a Jet Plane: What Travel Nurses Need to Know About Flying During COVID

September 27, 2021

As you get ready to embark on your next travel nursing assignment, how you’re getting to the assignment is one of the first plans to arrange. Flying can be stressful enough, but add in a global pandemic and its variants and you’ve got a recipe for a potential headache that even the best medicine can’t remedy. To save you some stress, we asked our Travel and Housing Manager what travel nurses need to know when flying during these unprecedented times and how you can stay safe on the way to providing high-quality patient care.

First up, let’s discuss personal safety practices. Masks will continue to be required on all airlines at all times. In addition to the mask requirement, standard hygiene is greatly encouraged. As you do in the hospital, make sure you wash your hands frequently or carry a travel-size bottle of hand sanitizer. Travelers are advised to avoid personal contact with other travelers, i.e., shaking hands. As you have done throughout the past 19 months of the pandemic, taking care to mitigate the spread of germs is of utmost importance.

For further safety precautions, airlines are currently evaluating the need to mandate the vaccine amongst their flight attendants and other crew members. Travelers can check for updates on the possible vaccine requirement for flight crew on the TSA website. Travelers can find updated information on the vaccine mandate on the Center for Disease Control website. You can also check your state website for updated vaccine info as it pertains to your state or the state you’re traveling to.

Airlines have stopped blocking middle seats on aircraft, which means closer contact to you and your fellow travelers. Mask-wearing and a fully-vaccinated body will benefit you, your heath, and the health of your future patients as you travel to your next assignment. Travelers should also be aware of an uptick in flight delays during the pandemic, since there are fewer planes in the air, so flexibility and planning will go a long way in making your travels as stress-free as possible.

Due to the pandemic, RealID has been delayed until May 3, 2023. RealID serves as a driver's license or ID that is also a federally accepted form of identification. On that date, a Real ID-compliant driver’s license, state-issued enhanced driver’s license, or another acceptable form of ID such as a passport will be required of all plane passengers 18 years or older to fly within the United States. For more resources on RealID, visit the Department of Homeland Security website.

For resources on travel updates throughout the pandemic, sign up for the Frequent Flyer programs through your chosen airline. As an added bonus of signing up, you can earn points while flying to each assignment. Which means, that well-deserved vacation may be cheaper than you think. Staying safe during your travels means you can arrive to your new assignment ready to hit the ground running for patients in need.