TSA, airlines make changes to allow for safer air travel in wake of COVID-19

The Transportation Safety Administration and major airlines are making changes to allow for safer air travel for passengers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Air travel in the United States is down around 90% since the pandemic began. Inside airports, most stores and restaurants remain closed. But the industry is taking steps to restore the public’s confidence.
“We have significant data that shows that people really want to get out there, and with the right assurances, they will,” says Tori Emerson with the U.S. Travel Association.
Some of the changes that will be put into place include touchless and contactless ticketing, purchasing and check-ins.
 “The advanced biometric system is something U.S. Travel has been advocating for a long time,” says Emerson. “We think this can give people more comfort as well as they embark on travel.”
Some airports are now modifying their kiosks to try to allow for contactless check-in. Starting next month, the TSA will no longer require travelers to hand over their IDs and boarding passes to agents. They will be allowed to scan those items themselves and hold it while the agent visually inspects it.
The TSA is also making changes when it comes to security. Travelers will now be allowed a 12-ounce bottle of hand sanitizer and will be allowed to bring their own food on the plane. Food will have to be in a clear bag and will have to be taken out of the carry-on during screening. Passengers will also most likely be required to wear a mask and observe proper social distancing.
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Social distancing may not be easy on an airplane, but airlines are making changes. Many have stopped selling middle seats to allow some distance. Other airlines are considering installing Plexiglas shields between passengers.
And passengers can expect to hear more about hospital-grade HEPA air filters being used on plans – although many airlines were using these before the pandemic.
But passengers will also be required to bear some of the responsibility to protect themselves and others.
“If you don’t feel well, stay home. If you have any symptoms, don’t travel. But if you feel good and want to get out there, we think that you absolutely can in a safe manner,” says Emerson.