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.”