The Covid-19 pandemic has truly changed the entire world and the multitude of industries that run it. One of the biggest industries that has been impacted internationally by the virus has been the travel/tourism industry. Obviously a virus that spreads through close contact in public spaces would disrupt the businesses that make their money from hundreds of strangers coming in close proximity with one another, however, now that the world has been enduring this pandemic for eight months, the industry has adjusted to better accommodate for the new normal we’re all living in.
Specifically the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in airports have taken on a whole list of health and safety procedure protocols to protect themselves and passengers from contracting the virus as they pass through airport security checkpoints.
Obviously travelling seems like it should be out of the question for anyone in the middle of a global health crisis involving a virus that spreads easily, however, as America has proven if there’s an opportunity to do things normally, people are going to jump on that opportunity, especially when flights are the cheapest they’ve been in years.
When travelers first enter the airport they’ll notice a difference in experience almost immediately. Individuals are prompted to scan their own boarding passes when they first enter the TSA area of the airport. They’re prompted to do this at every checkpoint throughout the airport, this way TSA workers don’t have to be handed thousands of passes during a given day and can reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
In a pre-pandemic context, one of the biggest discrepancies all airport travelers could agree on was the limited amount of liquids you’re able to take with you on a plane. However, now that we’re living in a time where hand sanitizer is everyone’s best friend, airlines are allowing travelers to pack sanitizer in containers up to 12 ounces. The hand sanitizer just needs to be removed from the luggage so that it can pass through a separate X-ray screening; this is to ensure the liquid is actually sanitizer.
Other liquids still must be less than 3.4 fluid ounces and passengers need to be adamant about checking to make sure all liquids and aerosols meet those requirements. If not, the passengers themselves will need to remove the item to prevent cross-contamination which will just take up even more time, so be extra careful when packing any liquids or aerosols that aren’t hand sanitizer.
Since many individuals are opting not to buy any food or drinks at the airports, TSA is allowing for any meals or snacks that one wants to take through security to go through as long as it’s removed from the luggage and in a clear plastic bag placed in a separate tray. This small measure has already been thought to decrease the possibility of cross-contamination greatly.
TSA agents have also been installing acrylic barriers in all major airports around the country. These barriers are specifically designed to prevent the spread of Covid-19 between travelers and TSA agents. They’re being placed at all TSA podiums, X-Ray areas, secondary search areas, and checked baggage drop-off locations.
The TSA has also begun testing out self-service facial recognition technology that can immediately verify a passengers identity. The technology is currently being tested at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport where passengers are prompted to scan their own ID’s so that the machine can verify their identity and boarding information. If the technology proves to be successful in the coming weeks it will likely be implemented in all major airports throughout the country.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.