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Maintaining Social Distancing At The Airport

I recently had to take a flight to Arizona for work and got to experience the future of flying first hand, and it was anything but ordinary.

From the moment I entered Los Angeles International Airport I was greeted by social distancing signs reminding me to remain 6ft away from other passengers as much as possible.  There were physical distancing decals placed on the floor leading up to the check-in counters ensuring people standing in line were being respectful of the new requirements and maintaining distance while waiting to check in.  Face coverings were required from the moment I entered the airport all the way through the duration of my flight and at Phoenix Airport.  There was hand sanitizer on offer just about everywhere you looked and you could see a significant increase in sanitization efforts around both airports. Despite having TSA Pre-Check, lines were quite slow to go through security owing to all of the new policies being implemented and the reduced number of staff members on hand owing to the general slowdown of the aviation industry and subsequent lack of passengers.

Walking towards my gate, I noticed that physical distancing signs similar to our “Don’t Sit On The Chair” sign were also placed strategically on chairs, ensuring certain chairs weren’t used in order to create space between passengers and maintain order throughout the terminal. In certain places, social distancing arrows were placed on the ground, directing the flow of foot-traffic in order to ensure minimal contact between passengers as they walked to and from their various destinations.  Passengers were also doing their part to protect themselves and others, I observed different types of protective gear ranging from simple cloth face coverings to full hazmat suits, which was both alarming and amusing at the same time – better safe than sorry!

Throughout my experience I noticed that airport employees were walking around sanitizing just about every surface that could be touched and ensuring that social distancing decals and signs were in good condition and clear to read.  Everyone seemed to be taking the matter seriously, which was very comforting and did its part to make everyone feel more at ease at the thought of flying.

The flight itself was far from what I expected, it was absolutely full!  The only spacing visible was in the exit rows, providing a small gap between the different sections of the plane.  Passengers were required to wear face coverings throughout the entirety of the flight, and there was no meal service offered during the flight – although a small snack bag was handed out to customers prior to take off.  If you’re expecting social distancing on your flight, you may want to see which airlines are offering capacity limited flights to put passengers at ease.  American Airlines was definitely not one of those airlines! 

Disembarkation was different from the norm – instead of the usual rush to open overhead bins, passengers were instructed to remain in their seats while passengers at the front of the plane disembarked first, all the way to the back.  It made for a very organized disembarkation process that I feel should be implemented long after social distancing policies are no longer required.

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Arrival terminals were largely empty owing to the steep reduction in flights resulting in a general decrease in passenger traffic throughout the arrival airport, and social distancing arrows were in place guiding passengers to one side of the thoroughfare or another.

Overall, I did feel the experience was quite a safe one, and it dispelled some of my fears of mayhem at the airports.  Social distancing stickers and reminders throughout the airport were a huge part of the experience, and their importance cannot be overstated.

Related Articles: The Future of Social Distancing

 

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