Air travel finally seems to be returning to normal as several top airlines like Alaska Airlines, JetBlue and United Airlines get ready to woo customers with various offers. They are announcing fare sales and new routes along with providing safe options for travelers.
The situation with international travel is still not attractive as many countries still have restrictions related to Covid 19, and they are not allowing international passengers from various countries. However, domestic travel is showing some signs of hope as many airports also struggle hard to woo passengers with various facilities. Several airports and top airlines have joined hands to provide a safe environment for passengers, and they want to instil confidence among the passengers about safe travel. In this regard, they are using hand sanitizing stations, plexiglass barriers and other new strategies for keeping the premises clean during this pandemic. Airport employees are also working hard and reminding passengers whenever possible to wear masks at the airports. They are also using robots that also serve as of mask nanny at the airports.
The airports are using robotic machinery and intelligent sterilizing robots to disinfect public areas and passenger facilities at various airports. The regular airport heating and air conditioning systems are now capable of cleansing the air using bipolar ionization devices. Along with that, several airports are now using medical-grade UVC light to kill bacteria and viruses on the surface. In some cases, they are also used on people to disinfect them. The Gatwick Airport at London has installed an advanced system that sends the security bin through an enclosed tunnel where short-wavelength UV-C light is used for disinfection. This facility is installed at nearly 8 security checkpoint lanes in the airport. Several advanced technologies are now entering the market, and they are all competing to make the airports a safe place for passengers.
A design technology company in Michigan named Bluewater Technologies has developed a system that used medical grade UV-C light for sanitizing luggage carts at airports. It can accomplish the task in a matter of a few seconds and can handle any amount of traffic without any hassles. The Toronto airport has installed UV-C sterilization units inside escalator and walkway mechanisms that clean the handrails on a regular basis. They have also provided a disinfection corridor for the passengers, and it provides a quick chemical-free spray for the passengers. This is not mandatory for passengers, and they can voluntarily opt for this pre or post-flight according to their convenience. Checking temperatures at airports have become the new norm, and they are done by many security agencies at the airport. According to the new bipartisan Senate bill that was introduced recently, TSA will have to perform the task at airports.
Recently, the CDC had announced that it was halting the current screening system for international passengers who are coming from other countries. They want to move away from screening for fevers and other symptoms and focus on pre-departure and post-arrival education at an individual level. The International Air Transport Association, along with other trade groups, had recently called for systematic testing of all international passengers before boarding flights. They are of the opinion that this will enable governments to safely open borders without having quarantine restrictions. Apart from that, it will also provide clarity to passengers that they can travel without worrying about last-minute changes to the rules by the government. The United Airlines recently announced its own Covid 19 testing pilot project for passengers coming to Hawaii.
It was initially started at the San Francisco Airport, and it will be slowly implemented in other regions. This will provide passengers with facility for on the spot testing and those who test negative need not undergo the mandatory quarantine period at Hawaii. In this way, they are planning to attract more tourists to the region during the holiday period. Italian airline Alitalia is all set to operate its two daily Rome Milan flights for only those passengers who are Covid tested. The passengers will have to submit a certificate to show that they have tested negative for the virus 72 hours before boarding the flight. Such passengers can take a free Covid 19 test at the airport and get the results in about 30 minutes. Only those passengers who test negative will be allowed to travel in the flights. Some countries have chosen innovative techniques to identify Covid positive passengers. AT Helsinki-Vantaa Airport in Finland, passengers may encounter Covid sniffing dogs. This is also implemented at the Dubai International Airport, and the authorities are running this pilot project to detect the Covid positive patients in an easy manner.
Such tests are not mandatory, and passengers who wish to take the test at Helsinki need not even come in direct contact with the dogs. The passengers use a wipe on their skin surface, and it is then put into a jar and given to the dogs for sniffing. The testing is done in a separate booth, and the dogs indicate the result with gestures of barking, lying down and scratching of the paw. The entire process can be completed in less than a minute, and passengers who test positive in such tests will be urged to take a standard test. In this way, the accuracy of the pilot project is also checked by the authorities. The Airports Council International recently released a global Airport Health Accreditation program that is aimed towards restoring public confidence in air travel. The airports will have to report the steps they have taken in this regard to containing the spread of pandemic at the airport. They have to provide details about physical distancing measures, staff protection and disinfecting measures taken at the airports. When international airports have a standard protocol to follow in this regard, they can make air travel safer in the long run and help passengers to travel with confidence. As the holiday season approaches fast, airports have to make the best arrangements in this regard.