The fastest way to know if you were exposed to COVID-19 on your flight

The concept of the spread of coronavirus in the world. Closing air traffic between countries.
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In all cases of COVID-19 that arrive in New Zealand, the Ministry of Health will always release the information of the flight the case travelled on as soon as possible.

But for people who aren't frequent flyers, flight numbers and codes can be daunting even when it's just a matter of finding the right gate. So when it comes to checking your flights against those named in a COVID-19 case, that added level of anxiety could make that process even harder.

Here are a few key things you can do to determine if your flight is the same as the one that's been listed.

We will use the COVID-19 case that flew to and from Wellington on June 18 as the example.

Date of travel:

This person travelled to Wellington on June 18 and back to Sydney on June 21. 

One possible cause of confusion here is that the flight arrived in Wellington on June 19, just minutes after midnight. So in these circumstances, if your flight does take place in the hours around midnight, then be clear about what date you left, and what date you landed.

The return flight to Sydney was much more straightforward as the person departed at 10.13am and arrived back in Sydney at 11.33am (Sydney time).

Flight number:

This should be one of the most clearly written elements on your boarding pass. In this case the flight was operated by Qantas, so the flight number will begin with QF.

There is only one flight each day per flight number, so there would only have been one QF163 that flew on June 18.

The fastest way to know if you were exposed to COVID-19 on your flight
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Things can get a bit more complicated if you have booked a ticket through a different airline which has a codeshare agreement with Qantas.

In this case, your flight number may have four numbers and won't begin with QF, but all other details will be exactly the same.

For example, a flight to Auckland from Melbourne operated by Air New Zealand has the flight number NZ124; but also has a codeshare flight number with Singapore Airlines using flight number SQ4230. While codeshare flights were common before COVID-19, it's highly unlikely you will come across this problem.

Using the same example for the return flight to Sydney, the flight number was NZ247. The 'NZ' tells you it was operated by Air New Zealand.

Seat number:

We don't know exactly where this case was sitting, but let's say they sat in 4A.  It's fairly straightforward to identify which row four is - it's the fourth row back from the front.

Aircraft seating row configuration: 3-3
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As for the letters, they can change depending on the size of the aircraft.

In this case, both flights to and from Wellington were single aisle jets, so had three seats each side of the aisle.

That means seat A is at the window on the right side of the aircraft as you enter from the front. Then there's seat B in the middle and C on the aisle, while to the left you'd have D on the aisle, E in the middle and F at the window.

There are varying theories as to whether you are more likely to be exposed to someone else's bugs by sitting next to them or in front or behind them. Either way, wearing a mask onboard all flights is mandatory, so this should lessen the chances of any spread. 

If you have any doubt, the best advice is to call Healthline just to be safe.