Many countries are resuming air travel after months of restrictions, and people who were stranded or need to travel are flocking to the airports. However, the removal of restrictions doesn’t mean that the threat of COVID-19 is gone. The pandemic is still going on, and you need to take precautions to prevent infections.
Airports are aware of this fact and are ensuring that people who are boarding the planes are fit to travel, and hundreds of thousands of passengers are being screened at the airports every single day. All these precautions are necessary, and they are going to be kept for quite some time even after the pandemic is over. So, if you are planning to travel by air now or in a few months’ time, then you need to understand that the days of hopping into a cab and going to the airport, getting a boarding pass, and getting into the plane are over.
Now, the airport authorities have come up with a new set of rules and regulations that need to be followed while traveling by air. These rules are for the safety of the people, and you need to abide by them for a safe journey. This article would provide basic details of these rules along with pieces of advice that would prepare you to travel by air in the coming months.
Preparing for the Journey
Preparing for the journey is the most important part, and usually, the advice would be to ensure that you are carrying all the necessary documents for the journey. At the moment, there are additional precautions that you need to take before arriving at the airport. Now, getting a hazmat suit would be too much, but putting on a pair of gloves, wearing a mask and taking sanitizer wipes would be helpful in protecting you from the germs. Lots of people visit the airports, and some of them might be carriers of the virus without showing any symptoms. Airport authorities are trying to ensure that the facility is safe, but it is better to take some precautions on your side as well.
To ensure minimum contact, airports have also advised passengers to download apps that allow them to board the plane without touching anything more than their phones. Airports have put self-service kiosks that allow you to print bag tags with minimal need to press buttons through the use of QR codes.
Getting to the Airport
The first thing that you need to do before traveling by airplane is to reach the airport. The best possible option is to ask your family members or a close friend to drop you to the airport. This method would have the least risk of contracting an infection. However, if you can’t ask your relatives to give you a lift, then calling a cab service such as Uber is another possible option. Now, as you enter the cab, there are a few things that you should keep in mind. First of all, wipe the seat with a tissue paper before you sit on it. It would be even better if you wiped the handle before using it to enter and after using it to exit the cab. The cab companies are saying that they have already given their drivers the instructions to keep the cars sanitized, but there is no such thing as being too careful.
In case you managed to get help from someone you know, then you need to inform them that many airports have changed the pick-up and drop-off procedures to ensure that people are on the move and maintaining a safe distance. So, read the instructions provided by the airport from where you need to board the flight before going there.
Avoid taking your car to the airports. All airports have closed their long-term parking service, so you can’t leave your car at the airport. On the other hand, hourly parking and pick-up and drop-off service are available. So, use these instead of driving to the airport on your own.
As mentioned before, get in touch with the airport to know more about pick-up and drop-off rules.
Going Through the Security Check
Once you are at the airport, you need to go through a security check before proceeding any further. You need to be prepared for this step in advance. Again, looking for the information on the airport website would help you a lot. During the checks, you need to take out your phone, documents, and other items as you go through the scanner. Once you are through the scanner, wipe down the items that you removed with sanitizing wipes before putting them on. Also, ensure that you are following the social distancing norms while being scanned. Keep on the mask until security officials tell you to remove it for identification purposes.
At some airports, you don’t even need to hand over your boarding pass for identification, and you need to scan the QR or Bar code on them at a kiosk to confirm its validity. If you are carrying food items, then take them out and place them alongside your luggage while undergoing security checks. Ensure that you have wrapped food items in plastic. By doing this, you would help the security officials as they won’t have to touch your bags to check what you are carrying.
Staying Safe at the Terminal
Airports are trying their best to keep the place free of COVID-19 virus. So, you would see a lot of cleaning and sanitizing processes going on at the terminals. Some airports, such as the Long Island MacArthur Airport in the US, are using Continuous Air and Surface Pathogen Reduction systems to keep the airports free of pathogens. This system sanitizes the air and the surfaces continuously. The system uses hydrogen peroxide to kill germs, and it pumps the gas into the airport environment. Robots armed with UV-C ray producing equipment are also being employed to deal with the germs present in the air and on the surfaces within the terminals.
Airports that don’t rely on sophisticated technologies are employing hand sanitizing stations and asking staff to increase the number of times the place is cleaned and sanitized. Passengers are also being requested to put on a mask while inside the airport premises. Airports are using hospital-grade disinfectants and cleaners as an extra precaution.
You might also find that airport shops and cafes are closed. So, you need to prepare accordingly, and eating before going to the airport would be the safest option. At airports that haven’t closed the shops, you should rely on digital forms of payment. Using apps such as Google Pay, Samsung Pay, etc. would be a better option.
You should also be careful while using the washrooms and while waiting for the boarding process to begin to ensure that you are following the social distancing norms. Avoid crowded locations and wipe down the seats before you sit on them.
Boarding the Flight
You have managed to stay safe at the airport, and in a few minutes, you would be inside the plane. Now, all you need to do is go through the boarding process. Many airports are allowing only a few people to board at a time. So, you don’t need to worry a lot, but following the social distancing norm and keeping your mask is essential. Different airlines have different boarding policies, and you need to get in touch with the airline officials at the airport for more information on the boarding process. As done before, you might need to scan your boarding at a kiosk to confirm its validity.
Taking Your Seat
After the boarding process, you are taken to the plane in a bus or through a walkway. On a bus, you need to follow social distancing guidelines, and when taking a seat in a bus or within the plane, take a sanitizing wipe to clean it. Most airlines have mentioned that they sanitize their planes and buses after every trip, but you should still clean the seat for extra safety. Some airlines have also added a page in their instruction manual to help passengers protect themselves from the virus during the flight.
The air inside the cabin is recycled, but the use of HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Filter) ensures that it is safe to breathe. Still, you should keep your mask on during the flight.
Another important question that you might have would be, “Will someone sit next to me on the flight?” The answer to this question can be yes and no, depending on the airline policy. However, in most cases, a person might not be present in the seat next to you. Since the start of this pandemic, the average number of passengers per flight has fallen by almost 50 percent. Nowadays, flights are taking off with an average of 40 passengers instead of 80 to 100 that were present before.
Air travel is being resumed, but the threat of Coronavirus is still looming over our heads. Airports and airlines are taking all possible security measures to keep their passengers protected. You need to take some precautions as well. This article provides you the additional information that might make your flight experience much smoother and safer. However, you still need to practice the guidelines given by the health experts, and if possible, avoid traveling unless necessary until the pandemic is over.