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safety throughout the airport system

safety throughout the airport system

Old May 22, 20, 4:11 pm
  #1  
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safety throughout the airport system

There's a thread:

Safety on a plane [merged thread]

but that's about the plane itself.

No matter how clean the plane is and even if you're seated far from the next person, what about:

Taking the shuttle bus / train from the remote parking lot (or do you use the walkable parking lot even if it costs 4x the remote parking lot cost?)
Checking in (if you didn't check in online and/or need to check bags)
Standing in line for security
Going through security
Taking a shuttle bus or train to a remote gate or remote terminal (in some cases)
Waiting in the gate area
Boarding

and all the reverse of several of those on the way back, and much of this also at your destination.

So how are airports and offsite airport services (such as parking lots and rental companies offsite with their shuttles/trains) dealing with all this? I realize each airport would have its own solutions, but I think that info about some airports would be better than info about none.

If you know (from either experience or websites) what your local airport system is doing, please post it here so that everyone can find that more easily. If there are already threads about how some specific airports are dealing with this, links would be welcome. Thanks.

FWIW: Even on my local news, there's coverage aplenty of what airlines are doing, but no coverage of what my local airports are doing.
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Old May 22, 20, 5:57 pm
  #2  
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Using CLEAR with the eye scan for the ID portion of TSA airport security would be a good way to avoid handing travel documents back and forth.

OLCI also avoids some interaction with a check in agent, but this might not matter if you must check a bag unless your airline has a DIY option, although the kiosk or need to show ID to an agent could still be a concern.

Having less luggage means that you're less likely to be forced to use a crowded elevator rather than an open escalator, hopefully with social distancing.

I'd prefer a nice big and hopefully empty shuttle bus to a taxi/uber/lyft.

I've always avoided those stupid noisy hand dryers in public restrooms that seem to provide a nice warm environment for nasty stuff to grow and then propel it around the room. If paper towels aren't provided, I'll use lots of toilet paper, tissues, or just wave my arms around as my hands drip dry if I don't want to use clothing as a towel.
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Old May 22, 20, 9:39 pm
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Happy to share a few of my observations, having passed through MEX, LAX, BUR, AGS, LAS, SEA, and ATL since the first week of March:

You've no doubt seen, and mention, the various measures taken by the carriers themselves, so I won't spend too much time sharing my observations.

Checkin looks largely similar to "normal". Many airports are doing the 6' social distancing markers on the floor. With the small crowds and lines, this has worked fine. I don't know how well it might work as crowds return to airports - if there's even still a demand for such measures. Provided you don't need to check a bag, if you're keen on avoiding checkin (at least for domestic trips), just use OLCI and a mobile boarding pass

Security is, again, pretty similar. I've been able to keep a mask on every time I've used Clear, and been asked to lower it consistently each time I've been through a non-Clear checkpoint. As an aside, Clear is encouraging users to use the eye-scan, rather than fingerprint, to eliminate another point of contact. People seem fairly responsible about distancing, but, again, we'll see how those behaviors change as crowds return. I will say the TSA "gear" (bins, machines, conveyors, etc) - look just as grimy as ever. My local stores, for instance, are now constantly spraying and wiping counters - and I've yet to see a TSA checkpoint doing this. Most airports now have sanitizer dispensers on either side of security.

Shuttles, trains, and buses - I'll lump my observations together here. The airtrains, shuttle buses, and such I've been on have been fairly empty - simply due to a lack of passengers. Once crowds return, I think that'll vary significantly by airport and firm. Some shuttle buses might be run more frequently, for instance, to reduce crowding. But, for less adaptable trains, I think you'll just have to expect crowds - as many most public transit as "life" resumes. I have noticed that most buses/vans now have some kind of plastic curtain or divider up around the driver.

Gate areas - Are coming back to life, but still emptier than usual. People seem to be good about spreading out. At the moment, this is fairly easy, since so many gates are unused and passenger numbers are down. Also, with most restaurants being closed, more people are eating sandwiches and to-go in the gate area than I'm used to seeing. On that note, for at least the near future, I'd plan on travelling with your own supply of food and drinks (I like the little water flavoring packets/drops).

Boarding is all over the map. Many of my flights have been on Southwest - they've amended their usual boarding process, and now board in groups of ten. This has gone a long way to eliminate jetway and aisle gridlock, though it's pretty slow. For the other carriers, I'd refer to their various media releases or the experiences of other flyertalkers. The Aeromexico, Delta, American, and Alaska flights have more or less boarded "traditionally".

Disembarking is just. like. normal. Sigh. The moment the ding goes off every jumps up and jams in to the aisle. You'd think that'd be such an easy bad habit for this thing to have broken, but I guess not.

While it's not a safety observation, the diversity of airlines in my last sentence shows another adaptation. With so many flights and routes getting cancelled, I'm not shopping based on loyalty at all - I'm flying with whoever has the best schedule/availability.

Hotels are normal, but quiet (barring the few hosting health care workers). Hotel restaurants, bars, club floors, etc are mostly closed. Depending where you go, probably gyms and pools, too.

Rental cars are very strange right now, at least at Hertz, which I tend to use. There's a pretty good thread in the Hertz forum detailing "Hertz Covid era experiences".

Honestly, for those resuming travel (essential or not), a lot of your experience will depend on your own degree of risk tolerance. I'm content with a mask and more frequent hand sanitizing. There are, of course, passengers with notably more relaxed, and more intensive, preferences. The best tool I've found is patience, understanding, and a willingness to avoid where needed. With masks covering our faces, it's hard to convey mood and tone.

I hope that helps - I don't think you're going to see one "unified" set of precautions being followed across all the moving pieces at various airports. Most everyone is trying to follow the common sense and gov't guidelines, but implementations are varied.
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Old May 23, 20, 10:21 am
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Sanjay Gupta had a CNN piece on this question yesterday, also including how airlines are sanitizing planes, but he didn't really say anything new or useful IMO. Not surprisingly, it was filmed at ATL and showed mostly DL. The biggest thing I noticed was that he had two big carry on bags and put both into the overhead bin, an overstuffed barely legal roller bag and something that looked like a big heavy black leather backpack that seemed like it was the same size as the other bag. [DL policy is one bag and one smaller personal item such as a computer bag or purse.]
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Old May 23, 20, 9:09 pm
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as mentioned, and im disappointed... TSA gear, the bins belts... those HAVE to be cleaned, they always should have been.

i will add how about global entry kiosks, nexus kiosks. you have to put your five fingers on the glass, always hated that.

you have to place your photo page of your passport into the kiosk to start the process too.
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Old May 25, 20, 11:23 am
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Personally I’m quite amused over the new virus related Kabuki theater and it’s associated travel restrictions. I don’t have any qualms about continuing to travel or fly and I’m more than slightly amused at the reactions of some who are. Yes this virus is a serious disease but it’s not the Zombie apocalypse.
I use CLEAR when available, more for the shorter lines than for less personal contact. I keep up on local requirements and restriction and comply with them especially when flying.
To bypass customer quarantine requirements I am required to keep a journal with daily entries covering my location, airports I transit, hotels I stay in, daily temperature checks, and my assessment of my health.
I wear a face mask in any public area as per my customer requirements and outside my customer site it is to protect ME! I'm not concerned about local cleaning and sanitation. I follow the same sanitary practices that learned (the hard way) working in third world countries many years ago and avoid places that don't meet those standards.
Call me lazy but the contents of my carry-on doesn’t change whether I’m going to SNA or BWN. I have increased the number of nitrile gloves and N95 masks but the basics haven’t changed. A change of clothes, tsa safe toiletries, 2 weeks of meds, a tactical first aid kit, flashlight, camera, reading material, backup battery, and lots of snacks.
If this bothers anyone I am easy to identify. I’m the relaxed old guy in the Aloha shirt with matching surgical cap and mask.
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Old May 25, 20, 11:34 am
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Originally Posted by Dublin_rfk View Post
... reading material, backup battery, and lots of snacks....
A few weeks ago, after encountering a few rental cars with dead batteries, I switched my usual USB battery to a NoCo one that comes with a small set of jump leads. Might be worth consideration - you sound like a self-rescue kinda guy.

Last edited by NewbieRunner; Jun 1, 20 at 7:58 am Reason: Fixed quote tag
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Old May 25, 20, 9:02 pm
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Originally Posted by Presguy View Post
A few weeks ago, after encountering a few rental cars with dead batteries, I switched my usual USB battery to a NoCo one that comes with a small set of jump leads. Might be worth consideration - you sound like a self-rescue kinda guy.
No just a guy tired of political solutions to a medical problem.
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Old May 29, 20, 9:40 pm
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I am planning a TATL to see family in late July-late August, so peak summer travel season. I am connecting at ORD T3 (AA) where I have a 4-5 hour layover on both legs of the trip, and flagship lounge access. I am a little concerned with spending 4-5 hours indoors, especially at the congested ORD T3, including the modestly sized flagship lounge. How is the ventilation at ORD?

My question: Would it be safer to go outside for 3 hours on the outbound during the layover, and possibly book an overnight at a hotel on the inbound, instead of doing 4-5 hour layovers indoors at T3? Any thoughts? Obviously I would rather spend time at the lounge, in normal circumstances, but also keep in mind that it will be peak summer season, so the airports won't be empty like now, they will likely be quite busy, and all the anti-maskers and covid deniers will be out and about....To make things worse, AA only requires masks on the plane, not check in, lounges, etc., so T3 will be a zoo...

I am flying J out and PE on the return, so the plane part is better...
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Old May 30, 20, 12:21 am
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Originally Posted by nk15 View Post
I am planning a TATL to see family in late July-late August, so peak summer travel season. I am connecting at ORD T3 (AA) where I have a 4-5 hour layover on both legs of the trip, and flagship lounge access. I am a little concerned with spending 4-5 hours indoors, especially at the congested ORD T3, including the modestly sized flagship lounge. How is the ventilation at ORD?

My question: Would it be safer to go outside for 3 hours on the outbound during the layover, and possibly book an overnight at a hotel on the inbound, instead of doing 4-5 hour layovers indoors at T3? Any thoughts? Obviously I would rather spend time at the lounge, in normal circumstances, but also keep in mind that it will be peak summer season, so the airports won't be empty like now, they will likely be quite busy, and all the anti-maskers and covid deniers will be out and about....To make things worse, AA only requires masks on the plane, not check in, lounges, etc., so T3 will be a zoo...

I am flying J out and PE on the return, so the plane part is better...
I’ve always assumed that the ventilation is quite good since it always seems to be freezing in the terminals each time I pass through there.

You could try wandering over to T1-T2 ( connected airside) to see if there are any quieter areas. The surrounding areas near the connector walkways seem to a bit calmer, by ORD standards at least. ​​Personally, I’d try to make it work at the FL, since ORD is one of my least favorite airports to spend long layovers without lounge access.

Coming back and arriving at T5, you’ll have to make a landslide terminal transfer anyways, so you can spend a few more minutes outside, although not really sure of any good spots specifically.

Note that even if it’s “peak” season, my guess is that it will only be a fraction of the number of passengers during the same time period as last year.
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Old Jun 1, 20, 7:51 am
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There are a couple links I came across recently about how airports are dealing with this, and could be dealing with this longer term.

Crankyflier recently did a podcast on how airports are dealing with Covid 19, with views on short, medium and longer term changes. In summary, short term is reducing contact between workers and travellers, increased physical spacing and enhanced cleaning - basically a series of easy, quick and cheap to implement changes. Medium term, he thinks testing and tracing will play a big role - heat scanners (for what they are worth), and perhaps requirements to submit the details of the tracing apps being used to "prove" negative status for Covid19.

Longer term, he sees biometrics allowing us to move through the airport without having to physically deal with staff (as our identities via facial recognition and other biometric indicators allow the airport to identify us without documentation checks), and perhaps marrying this with health data to give a picture of risk of infection, though there are privacy concerns that come with that. In addition, the use of more automation and robotics to reduce human-to-human contact through the airport experience. There is also the use of individual pods extended throughout the airport, and even potentially onto the plane to keep passengers and workers physically distant from each other. Finally he mentions the use of sanitation stations to disinfect travellers at various points (I remember walking through disinfection pads at the airport - I think it was for foot and mouth disease back in 2001).

The second article is on Citylab and is about why airport terminals are expensive to build but seem to only last a few decades before being obsolete. Within the article, it makes some predictions on how Covid19 and the needs for health screening may change the face of airports, looking at parallels with other events like the increased security after 9/11, and the shift that increasing size in airplanes from the early days of jet aviation to the A380 had on how we move through airports.

The uncertain fate of commercial aviation is raising any number of related questions about travel and life as industries attempt to adjust to a global pandemic. The last significant shock to air travel, the Sept. 11 hijackings of 2001, saw airports transformed with a vast new infrastructure of security in order to restore a sense of safety. Coronavirus could bring similar changes — and it could also hasten the obsolescence of facilities that already have strikingly short lifespans.
The article has a section at the end with some predictions of what could happen, including reducing access to airport buildings to travellers only (moving the perimeter from security screening in the airport to outside the building), and also mentions biometric health data and testing via temperature scanners. On arrivals, there is mention of the need for triage areas, where passengers can be separated pre and post screening depending on the results.

I found both interesting reading.
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Old Jun 1, 20, 9:22 am
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In the meantime, are there any breakthrough scientific discoveries on how to sanitize the ever disgusting TSA bins?
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Old Jun 3, 20, 10:28 pm
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Originally Posted by nk15 View Post
I am planning a TATL to see family in late July-late August, so peak summer travel season. I am connecting at ORD T3 (AA) where I have a 4-5 hour layover on both legs of the trip, and flagship lounge access. I am a little concerned with spending 4-5 hours indoors, especially at the congested ORD T3, including the modestly sized flagship lounge. How is the ventilation at ORD?

My question: Would it be safer to go outside for 3 hours on the outbound during the layover, and possibly book an overnight at a hotel on the inbound, instead of doing 4-5 hour layovers indoors at T3? Any thoughts? Obviously I would rather spend time at the lounge, in normal circumstances, but also keep in mind that it will be peak summer season, so the airports won't be empty like now, they will likely be quite busy, and all the anti-maskers and covid deniers will be out and about....To make things worse, AA only requires masks on the plane, not check in, lounges, etc., so T3 will be a zoo...

I am flying J out and PE on the return, so the plane part is better...
Assuming that the ORD Flagship lounge is open, I wouldn't expect it to be crowded at a time when few are traveling. If you're concerned, be sure to pick a seat where someone cannot sit close to you and there won't be a lot of people walking past closely. Don't be afraid (despite FT etiquette pronouncements) to put your belongings on a neighboring chair to force some distancing. Look for seats next to big tables, plants, etc. that mean another seat isn't on top of you.

In many lounges, if you continue walking back or to areas that aren't immediately beyond the reception desk, you'll find some relatively quiet and empty spaces. Look for somewhat hidden back rooms, quiet zones, work cubicles, etc. if the lounge has such areas. Look also for "distinguished" seats that are larger (for example, big overstuffed furniture) and thus force some distance.

In some lounges, you can find a relatively lightweight empty chair and move it yourself a short distance to a spot away from everyone else. Bonus points if the new location has a good outlet/lighting and is quiet and private.
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Old Jun 15, 20, 8:57 am
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James Fallows in The Atlantic has an article "Air Travel Is Going to Be Very Bad, for a Very Long Time." He spoke to different people in the industry and collects some of their predictions about what travel (mostly at the airport, but also on the plane) as travel numbers start to recover. Though the consensus seems to be it'll be a long time until passenger numbers are back to where they were pre-Covid.

When will the airlines return to “normal” as we knew it a few months ago? That was the question I asked everyone I spoke with. “Maybe five years,” one person said. “I think four years,” said an optimist. Another person guessed seven. “I think never,” said an airline pilot, now on indefinite furlough.
On how the airports will work...

Everything will be slower. If you check baggage, the handles may need to be wiped before staff members touch them. If you don’t think you’ll be checking baggage, think again: The airlines will likely crack down further on carry-on items, which potentially come into contact with other passengers. On the bright side, less carry-on baggage will reduce the rugby-scrum nature of the boarding process. It will also diminish impending delays at the TSA checkpoint, where agents may need to stop and wipe down bins after exposure to each passenger’s coat and bags. “You can wipe down every bin when you have only 100,000 people traveling every day,” Helane Becker told me. “But if you have 500,000 people”—still less than a quarter of what the volume used to be—“it is going to be a nightmare.”
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Old Jun 29, 20, 4:35 pm
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Who caught Covid getting to or from the airport

I am off for a holiday (in-states) and will be flying for the first time since the pandemic broke. (Hard to believe)

I will have to drive to the airport, but there are parking options, including remote lots where you take a shuttle to get to the terminal.

I am leery of doing this, because my son just finished a work trip where the remote rental car agency packed people into the shuttle for the 10 minute trip to the terminal, and many were not wearing masks and obviously, social distancing was not observed.

So many of us out there are using public transport (buses, trains, subways, etc) to get to and from the airport. What is your personal experience and has anyone contracted the illness because they thought (or know) that they were exposed during that time period? Anecdotes is what I am looking for

For me, it's the on-airport parking garage and a walk to the terminal for this trip. It will cost about $25 more, but avoiding being off 3 (or more) weeks from work is well worth the extra cost
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