An as yet unresolved debate arose among travelers following the coronavirus global pandemic: should we cancel our summer 2020 vacation? Are airports and airplanes a safe environment right now? Holidays and getaways, though, are neither the only nor the primary concern, since as international borders gradually reopen and travel restrictions are lifted, stranded citizens still need to return home, students want to go back to their universities abroad, and business people and entrepreneurs also feel the urge to get back to their travelling routines.
From small domestic airports to major aviation hubs, the air travel industry is striving to excel at providing a concern-free experience to air passengers, in such a way that they can travel with peace of mind while it can be guaranteed that the risk of exposure to the coronavirus when going through the airport is reduced to a strict minimum. The correct implementation of these prevention measures, though, requires close cooperation between ground staff and travelers themselves.
What are airports doing to prevent the spread of COVID19?
Find below an outline of the chief preventive measures that are being implemented by airports to make passenger terminals a COVID-free environment.
Restricted entry. Only passengers with a valid boarding pass to fly can access the terminals on the day of their departure. Relatives and friends may use the designated drop-off and pick-up zones generally located on the curbside or parking.
Digital procedures are strongly encouraged. From doing the check-in online and obtaining a digital boarding pass to using the contactless baggage-drop points, travelers are advised to rely on technology now more than ever. It will not only save you a considerable amount of time but will also help you stay safe while navigating the terminal towards the airside.
Use of the mobile passport app or of electronic passports to go through security (through the eGates if applicable). In a bid to reduce human contact, airports are relying on biometrics and touchless digital solutions, therefore ensuring that all travelers who get into the boarding area stay secure.
Use of surgical masks or face coverings. You will see many members of the airport staff wearing them, because it has been proven to be an effective way to take care of yourself and others. If you do not have any face covering, many airports provide passengers with masks and hand sanitizer if needed and at no charge. You can also get reusable masks at pharmacies, shops and pop-up stores in some terminals. Bear in mind that they are mandatory in public transport to and from the airport as well as in shuttle services where you will be sharing the ride with other travelers too.
Online shopping and mobile payments. Even when you might be missing the Duty Free and the hours you used to spend there before your flight, online orders that you can collect at the airport shops before boarding the plane are highly recommended, as is making mobile payments, using electronic wallets and placing airport food orders via mobile delivery apps.
Keeping your hands clean. Every once in a while, especially if you have been touching high-contact surfaces like handrails, doorknobs or carts, use hand sanitizer or wash your hands by rubbing them together with soap for at least 20 seconds before rinsing them with running water. Numerous airports have made hand sanitizer dispensers and disposable gloves available across its terminals for travelers to use at no charge.
Increased hygiene and disinfection protocols. Dedicated cleaners and robots are disinfecting the airport facilities day and night by means of sanitizing touch screens and high-contact areas following advanced protocols and using hospital-grade disinfectants.
Thermal screening. Routine testing for fever and symptoms are permanently carried out to both arriving and departing passengers. To this purpose, airport staff may wear thermal detectors on their helmets or travelers may be guided towards discreetly placed thermal detectors.
Being patient while in transit. If you are travelling these days, be patient, abide by the regulations and understand the exceptional circumstances everyone is experiencing. Expect reduced services and longer waits even in airport hotels, the majority of which have just reopened and are still transitioning to their fully digital, social distancing-based era.
COVID tests upon arrival or mandatory health certificate. Although free COVID tests for arriving passengers were the norm at the outset of the pandemic, at present many airports only accept a negative COVID certificate issued within 48 hours before arrival to grant a passenger entry into the country or let them board the plane.
Mandatory social distancing. Marks on the floor indicate the obligatory distance to be kept between you and the other people, a rule to abide by while queuing, seating, waiting at baggage claim or shopping. You will see how terminals have been rearranged to allow for greater space.
Staying behind the physical barriers. Should you need assistance from the airline staff at the check-in counters or ticketing office, you will notice how Plexiglass panels and other physical barriers have been installed ever since the coronavirus outbreak. This prevents viruses and bacteria from being transmitted to the person in front of you.
Have you resolved to take a flight for your next trip, but a domestic one? Take a look at our recommended staycations and local vacations at discounted prices.