When you’re ready to travel again you’ll notice changes in airports and on planes, all designed to help protect your health and safety as well as that of the staff and crew.
In light of COVID-19, airports nationwide are cleaning public areas and security checkpoints more frequently. They’re adding hand-sanitizer stations, limiting the number of passengers on shuttles, increasing signs and floor markings for physical distancing and requiring masks throughout the facility.
You’ll see the same attention to cleaning and distancing as you check in and prepare to board your flight, according to the industry association Airlines for America. Ticket agents are sanitizing counters and kiosks. Airlines have installed barriers to provide protection for their employees as well as passengers, and marked floors for appropriate physical distancing.
Airlines, including the big three domestic carriers — United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines — will vigorously enforce a rule requiring passengers and customer-facing employees to wear masks.
The rule covers check-in, boarding, in-flight and deplaning. Face coverings are a public health measure recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent spread of COVID-19. Passengers who don’t comply risk losing flight privileges with the airline.
Until further notice the Transportation Security Administration is allowing one liquid hand sanitizer container, up to 12 ounces per passenger, in carry-on bags. Since these containers exceed the standard allowance, they will have to be screened separately, which will add time at security.
All Airlines for America members have aircraft equipped with HEPA filters, which help generate hospital-grade air quality. On its website, the CDC notes “most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes.”
Airlines, including Delta, American and United, have also implemented intensive measures for deep cleaning the interior of planes. They’re using more efficient electrostatic sprayers to cover all surfaces, getting EPA-approved disinfectant down into all the nooks and crannies of the aircraft. In the cabin, that includes key touch points like buttons, screens, window shades, arm rests, seat belts and tray tables, as well as air vents and lavatories.
In addition to masks and cleaning protocols, here are additional details on what airlines are doing.
Delta says it will continue to block middle seats and cap seating in every cabin through Sept. 30. Boarding will take place from back to front, reducing the instance of customers passing by one another to reach their seats. Passengers are also encouraged to pack their own food and non-alcoholic beverages.
To limit physical interaction, American Airlines is encouraging passengers to scan their mobile or printed boarding pass. Also, food and drink service in the main cabin is limited.
United is implementing temperature checks for employees at hub airports. The airline will also adjust advance seat selection to avoid seating you next to other travelers, board fewer passengers at a time, and board the plane from back to front.