Is it protected to fly now? One preflight PCR take a look at might be the reply

A study conducted earlier this year shows that there may be a way to reduce the number of Covid infections on board commercial aircraft to practically zero.

Results of the study appeared in a Peer-reviewed articles published September 1 in the medical journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings. The article – a joint effort by the Mayo Clinic, the Georgia Department of Public Health, and Delta Air Lines – showed that a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test performed within 72 hours of the flight reduced the rate of infected travelers on board to 0.05 % decreased. That’s five people for every 10,000 passengers.

At the time of the study, the infection rate in the US was 1.1% – or about 1 in 100 people.

“A damn low number”

The results analyzed data from Delta’s preflight testing program which ran from December 2020 to May 2021.

This is how Delta’s test program worked: Passengers on selected flights from New York City and Atlanta could fly to Italy without quarantine if they were tested negative for Covid-19 via a PCR test before departure and within 72 hours before the flight a rapid antigen test on landing.

Data from Delta’s preflight testing program provides new information on test feasibility, test accuracy and infection rates among passengers on commercial flights.

Mario Tama | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Of the 9,853 people who tested negative using the PCR test, four tested positive using rapid antigen tests at the airport. The diagnoses were confirmed by a rapid molecular test and these people were not allowed to fly.

Of the passengers who flew to Italy, one tested positive upon landing.

That equates to one case detection per 1,970 travelers “during a period of high prevalence of active infections in the United States,” the article said.

“That’s a hell of a low number,” said Dr. Aaron J. Tande, the lead author of the article and an infectious disease specialist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

The study suggests that a PCR test within three days of the flight makes subsequent tests at the airport largely superfluous, especially in combination with mask requirements on board and increasing vaccination rates for passengers.

‘Limits of the Study

The journal article mentions several “limitations” that may have affected the study’s findings, including the role of preflight testing in travel behavior. Participants suspected of having a Covid infection may have decided not to travel. Others may have been more careful wearing masks and self-isolating knowing they had to test negative to fly, Tande said.

“I can’t say that made the number of positive tests that low – or really did it make the 72-hour test that good,” he told CNBC. “But … the bottom line is that it’s a safe flight for people, and that’s what we want.”

If you were to repeat the study now … I think you would see a significant decrease in the rate of infection on board. “

DR. Aaron J. Tande

Mayo Clinic

Tande said the results are based on the Covid-19 strains that were circulating in the United States in the first half of 2021, rather than the more contagious Delta variant that is now dominating.

“I don’t think you could say you would get the exact same result by repeating the study now – with a different infection rate in the community and a different virus,” he told CNBC. “I think you would see a significant drop in the rate of infection on board.”

Safer but less workable options

The pilot took into account five testing strategies, two of which may have detected even more infected flyers.

For example, a single rapid molecular test at the airport could have found more infections because it minimizes the time between test and flight and so could capture infections that occur during that time. Adding a 72 hour PCR preflight test would likely find even more, according to the study.

Although airports weren’t designed for large-scale medical testing, many have set up makeshift facilities over the past year, like the Rome Fiumicino International Airport shown here.

Alessia Pierdomenico | Bloomberg | Getty Images

However, a preflight PCR test is the “better approach” because it is more feasible, said Tande. PCR tests are widespread, “more sensitive” – ​​which means they can better detect positive cases – and they are taking test logistics away from airports, he said. Preliminary tests also give infected travelers time to reorganize their plans rather than surprise them just before departure.

Test flights or vaccinated flights?

Preflight PCR testing can make flying safer, but most passengers now fly without one. And the airlines are silent when it comes to signing them in the future.

However, tests could become the de facto rule on international flights if the countries of arrival require them for passengers to enter. A Delta Air Lines spokesman declined to say whether it would require testing for its passengers, but said that “each country’s government is responsible for setting its own requirements”.

Tande said he would feel safer on a flight that required passengers to pass PCR tests before the flight. However, if given the choice, he said he preferred one more vaccination flight.

“I would definitely take the vaccinated flight – and (I would) mask,” he said.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said last week that passengers need to be vaccinated on their international flights. according to news.com.au. US officials are currently debating whether to make vaccinations mandatory at home and abroad, as of this week. reported The Washington Post.

“Unfortunately, Covid will be with us for a long time due to the discontinuation of vaccinations,” said Tande. “By continuously masking and testing before flying … we can improve safety so that we can continue to function as a normal society.”

United desires to fly a brand new era of Concorde-style supersonic jets. Is $100 a ticket a pie within the sky?

Are travelers ready to go supersonic again, almost 20 years after the famous Concorde jet made its last voyage across the Atlantic? That could also be because of how expensive the tickets are.

In a blockbuster announcement on Thursday, United Airlines
UAL, -0.60%
signals that it is ready to revive supersonic air traffic. The air Line has agreed to buy 15 supersonic jets from Boom Technology, an aerospace start-up based in Denver.

The plane, called Overture, will reportedly be able to fly between San Francisco and Tokyo in just six hours and between Newark, NJ and London in just three and a half hours.


Boom is set to bring the Overture jets to market in 2025, and companies are hoping to have passengers on the planes as early as 2029.

Boom is set to launch the Overture jets in 2025, and companies are hoping to be able to fly passengers by 2029, though the planes must first be cleared by regulators.

In the long term, a decade or more after the first flight, Boom’s goal is to be able to fly between anywhere in the world in four hours, with tickets costing just $ 100.

That’s a far cry from the thousands of dollars for a ticket to the Concorde, which was known to be environmentally harmful. The boom should also use 100% sustainable aviation fuel and be climate-neutral.

Achieving this goal of cheap and fast travel will not be easy. It will likely take several generations of the new aircraft for the company to achieve that goal, said Jordan Staab, president of SmarterTravel.

“If Boom can show that it is possible to make flying cheaper and faster, it will likely force competing airlines to lower their prices on long-haul routes in response,” said Staab.

The Concorde failed – in part – because of how much the tickets cost

The Concorde jet, made by British and French companies, could reach Mach 2.04, which was over twice the speed of sound. The airline was first flown in 1969, at a time when many companies around the world were aiming to launch supersonic aircraft like Boeing
BA, -0.24%.
The Concorde finally went into passenger traffic in 1976 and operated until 2003.

A number of factors contributed to the final demise of the Concorde. There have been many complaints about how loud the plane was, particularly because of the sonic boom it made when it exceeded the speed of sound.

The aircraft also suffered from declining popularity in its later years. In 2000, a Concorde jet became owned by Air France
AF, -1.88%
crashed after taking off from Charles de Gaulle Airport, killing everyone on board. Just over a year later, the September 11 terrorist attacks resulted in a persistent downturn in air traffic that hit many airlines hard.

An Air France Concorde took off for New York in November 2001 on its first commercial flight after the fatal crash in July 2000. Two years later the aircraft was retired.

ERIC FEFERBERGERIC FEFERBERG / AFP / Getty Images

But the Concorde wasn’t that profitable for the airlines that flew it. Despite ticket prices that could reach as high as $ 8,000 for a round-trip ticket between London and New York, or more than $ 13,000, in 1997, it wasn’t seen as a lucrative endeavor.

“To get that kind of supersonic speed, you had to have a very small plane, a limited number of people on board, and use an exceptional amount of kerosene,” said Scott Keyes, founder of Travel Scott’s Cheap Flights. “The amount they were able to recruit from ticket sales just didn’t match the cost they had for a particular flight on a Concorde.”

According to spokesmen for both companies, United and Boom are already looking to keep costs much lower in order to make the overture a more financially sound company.

“We aim to have Overture’s operating costs 75% less than Concorde’s operating costs,” a United spokeswoman told MarketWatch. “This is one of the reasons we are now starting our partnership with Boom to help them make Overture commercially viable.”

The United spokeswoman said it was “too early to know what future prices will be like”.

Overture flight tickets will come at an “extraordinary cost”

However, a Boom spokeswoman noted that “data shows travelers are willing to spend more to experience a fast, sustainable flight,” although she added that prices charged are left to the airlines.

Travel experts warned they won’t be cheap – not at all. Keyes predicted that if a business class seat on a standard flight from the United States to Japan costs around $ 4,000, a flight on the new supersonic aircraft would likely cost between $ 6,000 and $ 8,000.


“The people who can afford to pay the extraordinary cost of doing so will primarily be either business travelers or the kind of wealthy people who tend to live in very expensive cities.”

– Scott Keyes, founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights travel website

United will likely choose to fly the planes between major business centers – like Tokyo, Los Angeles, New York or London – rather than tourist destinations like Miami or Hawaii, Keyes said. This, in part, reflects the audience that most craves a supersonic travel experience, even at top prices.

“It’s going to be very business minded because the people who can afford to pay the extraordinary costs that drive them up will primarily be either business travelers or the kind of wealthy people who tend to be in the very expensive areas to live in. “Cities,” Keyes said.

Flying first class on normal flights could get cheaper

Meanwhile, Overture CEO Blake Scholl said CNN Travel that he is aiming for airline tickets in the first-class fare range

And the $ 100 ticket? “Now we need time to get there,” he said, adding, “I find it helpful to think much further and say, ‘Where do we want to be in a decade or two? And what is possible in this timescale? ‘ Then you work backwards and say, ‘How do we get there?’ “

Given the premium experience United is likely to offer with the Overture jets, the new service will be competitive with other airlines’ more traditional first and business class offerings. And that could translate into cheaper fares for those premium seats.

“We don’t see any impact on economy class airfare that most people would pay for transatlantic and transpacific travel,” said Adit Damodaran, an economist at travel company Hopper.

Damodaran compared the impact of the overture on the aviation sector to the impact of the Tesla Model S on the auto industry. The Model S offers “a premium, luxury experience with higher starting prices that may not initially affect the prices of other simpler cars, but could compete with other luxury or sports cars and motivate an industry switch to greener or faster vehicles”. , safer vehicles, ”he said.

But even if first-class airfares on certain routes drop in response to overture, the effect cannot be permanent. Airlines could reduce the number of seats in first class or reduce the number of flights offered on certain routes in order to maintain higher prices on those offerings, Keyes said.

‘I simply hoped I’d see them once more’: Lady makes use of stimulus cash to fly grandparents to Chicago to get COVID vaccine | Existence

Woman uses bidding money to fly grandparents to Chicago to get COVID vaccine

CHICAGO (TNS) – Elizabeth Oyarzun last saw her grandparents almost two years ago. And for the past year she prayed every day that she would see her again.

After what seemed like forever, the two arrived at O’Hare International Airport on Sunday evening from Monterrey, Mexico, she said.

Oyarzun, the oldest granddaughter of the couple they raised as their daughter, used the money from their latest stimulus check to fly her to Chicago to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. She feared they wouldn’t get it in Monterrey in time.

Her grandmother, Irma Rodriguez, 70, contracted COVID-19 in October, and although she survived, fears that her grandfather, Jose Perez, 74, could contract the coronavirus are haunting her, Oyarzun said.

But it was the distance that hurt the most, said Oyarzun.

30-year-old Oyarzun lives in University Village on the West Side of Chicago. Her grandparents lived with her in Chicago for a long time. But the two are retired and have been in their hometown of Monterrey, where Oyarzun was born since the pandemic started, despite being a legal resident of the U.S.

“I just hoped I would see her again,” said Oyarzun.

Her hope gave her the strength to overcome the fear and pain of being apart from two of the people she values ​​most in the world.

“I wish my grandparents were forever,” she said, pausing for a long time.

“But the reality is that it doesn’t. So I’ll do my best to keep her safe and healthy for as long as possible,” she said.

The two have diabetes and high blood pressure, and about seven years ago Perez had open heart surgery that put his life in danger.

“At least then we knew that we could visit him and say goodbye, but with COVID-19 that would have been impossible,” said Oyarzun.

Even the thought of it stings, Oyarzun said.

In her hometown of Mexico, vaccine distribution seemed distant and almost impossible, her grandmother said. While Chicago began distributing vaccines to people aged 65 and over in late January, Mexico began distributing vaccines to people aged 60 and over in mid-March, according to news reports.

“We were concerned because we just couldn’t see it coming to us anytime soon,” Rodriguez said in Spanish.

And even when there was news that the vaccine had finally arrived in Monterrey, the city where Rodriguez and Perez lived, the two didn’t trust the process.

For almost a year, said Perez, they had been isolated, lonely and cared for each other.

They saw firsthand the suffering of their neighbors and other families. Ten of Perez’s friends died of COVID-19 last year, and Rodriguez remembered how some people had to sell their properties to pay for their hospital stays and medication.

“We missed our family very much,” said Perez. “It was a very difficult time,” he said in Spanish.

But besides the difficulty, “it was heartbreaking to live far from loved ones, especially in these times,” said Rodriguez.

When Oyarzun got her stimulus check and found that her grandparents had qualified for a vaccination in Chicago, she made an appointment and bought the tickets.

The family decided flying them to Chicago was worth the risk.

On Monday, the day after she arrived in Chicago, Oyarzun drove her grandparents to the United Center to get their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

“It felt surreal, I felt very happy. I was more excited than them, ”said Oyarzun after Perez and Rodriguez both had their first shot.

Rodriguez sobbed and couldn’t hold back her emotions.

“I am deeply grateful to our granddaughter for worrying and taking care of us,” said Rodriguez. “And I thank God that she has the opportunity to do this for us.”

Oyarzun said it was thanks to her grandparents that she could have what she has now.

When she finally saw them again, they walked more slowly and had more wrinkles than the last time, she said.

“The distance between loved ones is a terrible thing,” said her grandmother.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.