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7 Ways Airports & Airlines Have Already Started To Change In Response To COVID-19

From airport testing to mask mandates.
7 Ways Airports & Airlines Have Already Started To Change In Response To COVID-19
Jacqueline Parisi

By Jacqueline Parisi

As spring gives way to summer, the question still remains...when will we be able to safely travel again? While we unfortunately can't give you an answer for that one (if only we had a crystal ball!), clues as to what it will look like once we can travel are starting to slowly emerge with new airport and airline regulations. Here's the latest:

1. Vienna Airport is now offering COVID-19 testing so inbound travelers can avoid quarantine

As of May 4, Vienna Airport will offer onsite testing to enable passengers entering Austria to avoid the requisite 14-day quarantine. (The only other alternative is to present a health certificate issued within the past four days to validate a virus-free status.) The results of the molecular biological test (polymerise chain reaction or PCR) will take two to three hours. The catch? It'll cost you 190 euros—about $210.

There will still be landing bans in effect for flights arriving from high-risk areas.

2. Emirates is conducting rapid COVID-19 tests for all passengers

Emirates announced on April 15 that they're rolling out rapid, onsite tests for all passengers prior to boarding, making them the first major airline to do so. The tests, which are conducted by the Dubai Health Authority via a blood sample, yield results within as little as 10 minutes.

"...this will enable us to...provide immediate confirmation for Emirates passengers travelling to countries that require COVID-19 test certificates," said Adel Al Redha, Emirates Chief Operating Officer, in a statement. "The health and safety of staff and passengers at the airport remain of paramount importance."

3. Boarding for Southwest Airlines and Delta flights will now take place in small groups of 10

Long gone are the days of massive, idling crowds shuffling to board as fast as possible to secure coveted overhead space. Instead, expect new boarding processes limited to groups of 10 (and restricted to one side of the Southwest's boarding poles) in order to facilitate proper social distancing practices.

Because these check-in and security changes will prolong boarding time, Southwest is asking passengers to download their mobile boarding pass prior to leaving home, in addition to arriving at the airport earlier than usual.

4. ...and there'll be no food served in-flight

Make sure to eat a hefty meal before leaving for the airport, since airlines such as Southwest have announced that they're suspending all in-flight food and drink serves to limit contact with passengers.

READ MORE: The Surprising Way COVID-19 Has Shifted My Mindset Around Travel

5. United, American, Delta, JetBlue, and Hawaiian are among the airlines now mandating all passengers to wear masks

While cabin crew members have been required to wear masks for some time, it is now mandatory for passengers (beginning at check-in) to do so as well.

“This is the new flying etiquette," said JetBlue President and Chief Operating Officer, Joanna Geraghty. "Onboard, cabin air is well circulated and cleaned through filters every few minutes, but this is a shared space where we have to be considerate of others. We are also asking our customers to follow these CDC guidelines in the airport as well.”

6. Delta has blocked middle seats

To enable more space for travel, Delta has made the decision to reduce flight occupancy by blocking middle seats. They will also be pausing automatic advance Medallion Complimentary Upgrades. According to the announcement, these new restrictions are slated to be in effect until at least June 30.

7. Passengers passing through Paine Field Airport in Washington State will have their temperatures scanned with a thermal camera

The machine (an Elevated Body Temperature Detection System) is noninvasive and never actually touches passengers, all of whom are screened prior to reaching the TSA checkpoint. If a fever is detected, the passenger will be screened for a second time before a decision is made as to whether the individual is well enough to travel.

According to a statement, "The new temperature checks follow Propeller's introduction last month of an innovative and proprietary UV technology used to disinfect the terminal. The technology being deployed at Pain Field is the latest in a line of similar technology that has been used effectively for years in Asia and other parts of the world."


Looking for a quarantine project to pass the time at home? Pick up a new book, host a virtual movie night, or listen to a new podcast. There's also tons of foreign TV shows on Netflix you can watch right now. And if you're thinking about jazzing up your home décor, take a cue from this Copenhagen-based blogger on the cozy secrets behind the art of hygge.

5 May 2020
3 min read
7 Ways Airports & Airlines Have Already Started To Change In Response To COVID-19
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