It’s been a months-long hiatus, but for some, postponing air travel
for work or to see family has run its course. And as the departure date
creeps up on your calendar, you probably have questions – and maybe
even some anxiety -- about heading to the airport. If standing in long
security lines and sitting in cramped quarters is keeping you up at night,
here are some things to keep in mind.
In general, you should wear a face mask – most major airlines require
that both passengers and crews wear them. (You may need to adjust your
mask for identification purposed during the screening process.) Also,
wash your hands before and after any touchpoints. Most, if not all, airports
will have some visual reminders on social distancing where possible.
About those cramped quarters? During the pandemic, airlines have been capping
capacity on flights, but industry experts say that won’t continue
for much longer. So while the CDC still recommends keeping a 6-foot distance,
it will be near impossible to do on a flight. The good news is that most
viruses don’t spread easily on flights because of the way air circulates
and is filtered on planes.
But, there are still a lot of touchpoints and security lines to get through
first. To address those concerns, Transportation Security Administration
(TSA) has implemented quite a few changes since the last time you’ve
flown. Here are the big ones:
Keep your boarding pass to yourself: Instead of handing to the TSA agent, you’ll place the paper or electronic
pass on the boarding pass reader yourself, then show it to agent for inspection
Separate food for screening: Keep food items in a plastic bag and place in a bin for screening. Separating
food from carry-on bags lessens the chance that screeners will need to
open bags for inspection.
Rethink packing liquids: TSA is allowing one liquid hand sanitizer container, up to 12 ounces,
in carry-on bags, but you should still avoid bringing other liquids over
3.4 ounces in your carry-on bags. You’ll have to remove the hand
sanitizer from your bag to go through screening.
Other changes to be aware of:
- Routine cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces in the
screening checkpoint area.
- All TSA officers at checkpoints wearing masks and gloves.
- TSA officers optionally wearing eye protection and clear plastic face shields
at some locations.
- TSA officers will continue the practice of changing gloves after each pat-down.
- Plastic shields installed at document checking podiums, bag search and
drop off locations.
If you’re at higher risk for COVID-19, talk to your doctor about
your travel plans. You may have the perfect itinerary, but if you feel
sick before your travel date, don’t brush it off – call your
doctor and take care of yourself, even if that means postponing your trip.