TSA just overturned this rule for the first time since 9/11 – but does anyone care?

Delta First-Class Flight Attendant

Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, TSA (Transportation Security Administration) is allowing passengers to bring liquid hand sanitizer aboard flights. The hand sanitizer container can be up to 12 ounces and must be inside a separate clear plastic bag for separate screening. This is the first time since 9/11 that TSA has allowed liquids over 3.4 ounces but it begs two questions: who has hand sanitizer and who TF is flying? 

While I was in Catskills last week, the pandemic became official, and I kept seeing on social media that people were panic-buying and stockpiling hand sanitizer, which is virtually sold out across the country. Two places in the countryside near me that could potentially carry hand sanitizer did not have it, and when I returned to my apartment in the East Village in NYC, of course the shelves were wiped clean (pun intended?).

Nobody has hand sanitizer, and for those who do, they are smart enough not to fly right now. The virus has spread ridiculously fast in the past week. Since I did my Youtube video 11 days ago on whether to fly or not amidst the coronavirus crisis, the number of cases shot from 158 to now 4,663 in the U.S.

I’ve pointed out that flights are the cheapest they’ve been in 20 years, with coast to coast flights as low as $80. While this may seem enticing to those who want to save a buck on a trip, there’s a *reason* why airfare is so low, and you don’t need to be a rocket scientist, teacher or even a kung fu master to know why.

Sure, your chances of contacting coronavirus on a plane is the same as you would on a bus or other public transportation, but we know more about the virus and how fast it spreads, so it’s best to self-quarantine.

That said, it’s crucial all U.S airlines shut down. At this point, no US airline has canceled all flights, which needs to happen for public safety. Why is this even a debate? 

I’m glad TSA decided to help with passengers who need hand sanitizer, but airlines should be fully shutting down. The CDC recommends people avoid events and places with 50+ people, and flights hold up to 300 passengers.

It’s not a great time to take a flight, or put flight attendants at risk, put pilots at risk, and put anyone in your final destination at risk. Flying is how coronavirus spread from China to the US. At this point, not a lot of people have been tested, so anyone can have it. Despite the crystal clear math on this, airlines are still flying.

Passengers: Stop traveling. Stop packing beaches. Stop going to Bourbon Street. I’m honestly shocked at how Americans are taking this so lightly, but their ignorance puts people in danger. Because Americans have shown they can be somewhat stupid in pandemic situations, airlines need to step up and cancel flights for the next few months, the same way major cities have shut down. 

Sure, airlines will lose money. A lot of it. But never forget how they have treated their passengers for years, and as The New York Times points out, “we largely let individuals suffer while helping out the big guys.” 

It’s time airlines work for us.

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Jimmy Im has traveled to 113 countries, stayed in over 600 hotels and has flown a million airmiles. He lives in New York City.

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