health

United Airlines is making its own hand sanitizer

Hand sanitizer is in high demand around the world as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. In many cities, it is almost impossible to find hand sanitizer and keep in stock.

To address the shortage, many liquor and perfume companies around the world are using their distilleries and production facilities to make sanitizing solutions of their own. Some of it they sell; some they give to hospitals and health care facilities and first responders.

Now United Airlines is doing it too.

San Francisco-based maintenance technician George Skoufos came up with the idea.

In late March he enlisted chemists and chemical engineers at the maintenance center at San Francisco International Airport to use chemicals they have on hand to whip up a sample batch of sanitizer.

They then got the recipe registered with the Food and Drug Administration.

In just a few weeks, employees at the center produced 550 gallons of hand sanitizer. That is enough to supply the entire base.

Now production is being ramped up so that the airline-made sanitizer can be distributed to United facilities worldwide.

A United spokesperson said the in-house sanitizer helps take the pressure off buying hand sanitizer from the open market. It also means more commercially made sanitizer is available for those working on the front lines of the healthcare system.

And it means there’s work for some of the idled United’s technicians and other employees who usually fix planes and plane parts at a time when few planes are flying.

(All photos courtesy of United Airlines)

How are airports & the TSA dealing with COVID-19 fears?

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.

Airport security checkpoints

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 post-security.

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.

Denver International 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 news.

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.”

Stuck at the airport? Learn how to save a life.

There are lots of things you can do with your time when you’re stuck at the airport.

You can eat, shop, work, snooze, walk around, chat with other travelers, look out the window and catch up on phone calls.

Or you can learn to save a life at one of the Hands-Only CPR Training kiosks that have been popping up at airports around the country.

At each kiosk, there’s a brief “how-to” video followed by a practice session and a 30-second CPR test on a practice manikin, or a rubber torso.

The kiosk gives feedback about the depth and rate of compressions and proper hand placement – which are the factors that influence the effectiveness of CPR. And whether or not you might be able to save someone’s life.

“Every second counts when a person suffers a cardiac arrest, which is why bystander CPR must start immediately until professional help arrives,” said Dr. John Harold, a cardiologist and President of the American Heart Association’s Los Angeles Board of Directors. “But bystanders may be reluctant to perform CPR because of lack of training or they may be fearful. The kiosks will help the public acquire a comfort level with performing chest compressions without the stress of an actual medical emergency, so they’ll feel empowered to spring into action if they witness a cardiac emergency.” 

Los Angeles International Airport is the latest airport to get a Hands-Only CPR kiosk. The LAX unit is located near Gate 150 on the Upper/Departures Level of Tom Bradley International Terminal.

An additional 35 of these kiosks are located across the U.S; 18 of them are in U.S. airports, including Oakland Int’l Airport, John Wayne Airport, Orlando International Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and airports in Indianapolis and other cities. Check this location map to find a kiosk near you.

Chill out with Cathay Pacific’s yoga/meditation space at Hong Kong Airport

Long flights can do a number on your body – and your mind.

Experts prescribe healthy eating and lots of moving around before, during and after you flight.

Now Cathay Pacific, already loved for its amenity-rich lounges at Hong Kong International Airport and elswhere, is offering passengers a tool for mind and body: a space for yoga and meditation in its Business Class lounge at The Pier.

The Sanctuary by Pure Yoga, designed in partnership with The Pure Group, is a 700 square-foot area divided into two zones – The Body Sanctuary, which is dedicated to yoga – and The Mind Sanctuary, which offers a space for meditation.

In the Body Sanctuary, travelers will find guided videos led by Pure Yoga teachers and a more secluded space for self-practice.

The space also offers an option for seated stretching, with chairs overlooking instructions on how to stretch different parts of the body. The exercises are designed to improve circulation, enhance joint mobility and relax the mind for a comfortable and restful journey.

In the Mind Sanctuary there are two types of meditation available:

Audio meditation has four cushioned pods equipped with noise-canceling headphones and iPads offering guided meditation sessions narrated by Pure Yoga’s expert teachers. Gazing meditation has comfortable cushions overlook graphics placed on the wall to facilitate Trataka yoga practice.

These practices help improve focus, memory and visualisation skills, as well as centering the mind in a state of awareness and attention.

Want to try it out? The Sanctuary by Pure Yoga is open to passengers with access to Cathay Pacific’s The Pier Business Class Lounge at Hong Kong Airport; to Diamond, Gold and Silver Marco Polo Club members; and to Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon First and Business Class passengers.

More zen in flight – and on the ground

Once in the air, Cathay Pacific offers “Travel with Yoga,” a series of inflight videos designed to help passengers ease into their journeys with meditation and yoga.

On the ground, the airline also offers its Diamond and Gold Marco Polo Club members arriving in Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon complimentary one-day access to any Pure Fitness centre or a choice of any Pure Yoga class up to 12 times a year.