KCI reports that over the weekend several hand sanitizer dispensers were ripped off the walls in airport restrooms.
As you may imagine, wall-mounted hand sanitizer dispensers are in high demand right now and are sold out almost everywhere.
“We are not able to purchase any more for months,” KCI Airport explains on its Facebook page.
KCI says it’s doing all it can to protect the health of its customers, “but this act makes that difficult.”
Right now the airport can only get hand sanitizer in dispenser bags. And if it transfers that hand sanitizer into bottles, the airport knows it’s likely those bottles would disappear too.
Airport officials say they’re reviewing the surveillance footage outside the restrooms. But for not, KCI reminds travelers that it has “plenty of soap and paper towel dispensers intact, and there are still hand sanitizer dispensers in most restrooms.”
Earlier this month, in a note outlining its efforts to address COVID-19, Kansas City Aviation said its custodial team had stepped up cleaning and disinfecting efforts in restrooms and public areas.
“Throughout the day, they are checking and refilling soap, paper towel and hand sanitizer dispensers,” KCI officials said. “Airlines, concessionaires and other tenants have increased cleaning efforts in their areas, including post-security. Flyers are posted in restrooms, a Health Department educational video is running on flight information displays and CNN Airport Channel is running a video on its monitors.”
If your airline cancels your flight, your employer restricts business travel or an organization cancels its scheduled conference or event, your decision about whether to go or stay home will be made for you
But if you’re in the wait-and-see mode or decide to pack your bags and go, here’s what medical experts say about avoiding germs while flying.
Before you fly
During normal times, airports and airplanes are germ-ridden places.
So, experts say now is the time to pay extra attention to the health and hygiene rules you likely practice anyway, such as washing your hands often and packing items like hand sanitizer, tissues and extra supplies of medications. You may also want to make copies of your health insurance paperwork before flying.
Travelers hitting the road in the next few days, weeks or months should double-check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for up-to-date information about travel advisories and risk assessment by country and think through contingency plans before leaving home.
“Have someone available in case you need help with emergency travel plans or need to get home quickly,” said Jonathan Fielding, professor of public health and pediatrics at the University of California, Los Angeles and chair of the U.S. Task Force on Community Preventive Services, established by the Department of Health and Human Services.
But keep in mind that as the virus spreads “you never know when a city you’re in or about to travel to is going to be sealed off, flights canceled, or travelers quarantined,” he said.
At the airport
At airports, germs can
linger on the screens at self-service check-in kiosks, on the bins and belts at
security checkpoints, on escalator handrails, food court tables, in restrooms
and gate seating areas.
Generally, to avoid germs at the security checkpoint, you should never walk barefoot through the metal detector, said Charles Gerba, a microbiologist and professor at the University of Arizona. Place your shoes on the belt, not in a bin. Put whatever you can, including your jacket, your phone and the contents of your pockets, into your carry-on instead of into a bin. And take a moment to use hand sanitizer in the post-security repacking area before rushing off to the food court or your gate.
across the country say they are increasing the frequency of cleaning routines
and the intensity of cleaning products at “high touch” areas in shuttle buses,
washrooms, security checkpoints, food courts and other areas, adding hand
sanitizer stations and taking other actions to keep passengers and employees
But passengers should
still take extra precautions. “Our studies have found that viruses can spread
very rapidly via the hands because of the large number of surfaces that you
touch,” Gerba said. He advocates washing your hands often, using hand
sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol and using disinfecting wipes on hard
surfaces in airports.
And before your flight,
“wait in the least crowded areas of the airport and try to stay at least six
feet away from anyone else,” said UCLA’s Fielding, “And try to board the plane
last, after the line has thinned, so you’re not stuck waiting in a tight space
with lots of other people as they board.”
Avoiding germs on the plane
While many airlines are
canceling flights and temporarily reducing schedules on some routes in response
to COVID-19, they are also sharing details about increased cleaning routines
and adjusted in-flight service routines on aircraft still flying.
On Wednesday, for
example, American Airlines said it was enhancing cleaning procedures on
international flights and aircraft that remain overnight at airports. “This
move, which will touch the majority of our aircraft each day, includes a more
thorough cleaning of all hard surfaces, including tray tables and armrests,”
the airline said in a statement.
On its blog, Alaska Airlinesshared a video explaining how its airplanes get cleaned and noted that its crews are paying extra attention to sanitizing armrests, seat belts, tray tables, overhead controls for air vents, light buttons and call buttons, and the interior and exterior handles to lavatories.
Despite the airlines’ efforts, “I advise people to bring their own
germicidal wipes to rub down the high touch surfaces, the armrest, meal tray
and the button that makes your seat go back,” said Paul Pottinger, infectious
disease specialist at UW Medicine, the health-care system at the University of
Washington in Seattle. “It’s also mighty neighborly to offer one of those wipes
to the person you’re sitting next to.”
Pottinger doesn’t recommend the use of face masks for healthy
travelers because he says there is very little evidence to support their
effectiveness at keeping away respiratory viruses.
“If people like to use them though, that’s OK, but I worry that
they are so uncomfortable that a traveler may end up fiddling with the mask and
actually increase the risk of getting sick by forcing them to touch their face,
nose and mouth,” he said.
And when it comes to the overhead air vent, the consensus is that
having it blow air toward you is better than using it to blow air away.
“The air in the plane blower has been filtrated, which can remove more than 99% of dust and microbes in the air,” said Fielding of UCLA. “By having the vent blow on you, you create an invisible air barrier around you that creates turbulence – simultaneously blocking any droplets that may have viruses within them and forcing them down to the ground.”
All the head-spinning news about the Coronavirus (COVID-19),
may have you wondering what to do if, like us, you have plane tickets and
travel plans booked for the next few days, weeks or months.
If your airline cancels your flight or your organization
cancels its event, your decision about whether to go or stay home may be
decided for you. Then, getting refunds, credit for future travel or an
itinerary for a different destination may be what keeps you busy.
If you’re in the wait-and-see mode and decide to pack your
bags and go, here’s what some airports and the TSA are doing to help you – and their
employees – stay safe.
During normal travel times, airport security checkpoints are germy places and now is certainly not the time to walk barefoot through the metal detectors or put your shoes in the bin on top of your coat.
To avoid germs – and leaving stuff behind – we always recommend putting whatever you can, including your coat, the contents of your pockets, a purse, your lunch and anything you’re carrying, into your carry-on instead of into the bins. And put your shoes on the belt, not into a bin.
There are always bottles
of hand sanitizers at the checkpoints. Now there are more. Your tax dollars pay
for those, so don’t be shy about really cleaning up in the recombobulation area
A TSA spokesperson says the
nitrile gloves officers usually wear when patting you down or looking through
your stuff adds a layer of protection against germs and that, for now, TSA has
authorized personnel who come into close contact with travelers to wear
surgical masks – if they want.
Fighting germs in airports
In general, airports across the country say they are increasing
the frequency and intensity of cleaning efforts in washrooms and other areas.
Airports are also encouraging passengers to follow the
U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s advice on washing hands, covering coughs and
otherwise trying to prevent the spread of germs by staying home if not well.
And airport officials say they’re monitoring the impacts
of the coronavirus and working closely with local
and federal partners and airlines to reduce
the risk to passengers.
Airport (DEN) is adding sanitary wipe stations in jet bridges so passengers can
sanitize their seats on planes and putting extra bottles of hand sanitizers at
the security checkpoints and information booths.
DEN notes that it is one of the airports that use checkpoint screening trays with antimicrobial treatments.
As you may imagine, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
(SEA) and its passengers are on high alert.
SEA is keeping its Traveler
Update page very up-to-date with advice for travelers and the latest COVID-19
Airport spokesman Perry Cooper said the airport is doing additional
cleaning and has been increasing those efforts as the situation has progressed.
“We have reviewed and updated the type and strength of
cleaners to be even more efficient,” said Cooper, “And have also added over 50
new hand sanitizer stations in the international areas as well as increasing
them in the general areas of the airport.”
The coronavirus (COVID-19) is bringing with it a lot of fast-breaking, bad news for travelers and the travel industry.
Over the weekend, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines announced the temporary suspension of flights to Milan, Italy and United Airlines announced a temporary suspension of flights to Tokyo Narita, Osaka Singapore and Seoul.
And, because travelers are holding back on buying new plane tickets, on Sunday American Airlines announced it will join JetBlue and Alaska Airlines in offering a change fee waiver on new tickets purchased in the next two weeks.
The airline says using wipes to clean armrests and tray tables is fine, but they’re asking passengers not to use cleaning wipes on the leather seats because commercial wipes will deteriorate the top coat of leather.
“The wipe might look dirty, ” says Alaska, “but it’s actually the leather dye color that’s coming off.”
Bad news for travelers may keep coming for a while, so it was refreshing to have Saturday Night Live do this silly bit about traveling through New York’s LaGuardia Airport.