We will fly again part 3

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

Before we board planes, passengers have to move through airports.

Baggage reclaim. how will airports cope?

Are airports considering how they handle arriving and departing passengers?

Can they introduce social distancing?

The problem they have is the same as that faced by airlines. They cannot wait for a vaccine that may take anything from a few months to who knows when to be developed and proven to be effective?

But nor can they sit on their hands and hope that things return to normal.

If easyJet is already planning not to use the centre seat in rows of three so that they can resume passenger flights as soon as possible, airports have to confront the question of how they will deal with passengers.

It begins when we arrive to catch our flights. Do we use public transport knowing that we will have to be relatively close to other passengers? If we use the long-tern car parking, the connecting bus is likely to be crammed with people. Will buses limit the number of passengers per bus both for the safety of passengers and the drivers?

Will passengers be happy to use lifts to move their heavy luggage from stations or entry points to departure lounges? Will friends and relatives be allowed in airports to either see people off or greet them on arrival? Surely after the terror threats of the last twenty, thirty or forty years, only passengers will be allowed in airports?

Once inside, is there enough room for social distancing at automatic boarding ticket machines and luggage drop off? Given a queue that snaked outside Sainsbury’s recently for more than 200 metres yet contained only about 110 people, airports may have to consider reconfiguring the space that they have.

At the airport in Dubai, screens are in place in front of check-in staff and airport staff are wearing masks and protective clothing which is a comfort to airport staff but what of passengers?

How will they deal with security queues? The same problems arise and some form of social distancing will have to be introduced to give confidence to passengers. And to security staff who will probably be wearing gloves and have to frequently change them.

How will hand luggage checks work?

What happens with people considered to be carrying things by the machines? Will pat downs continue? If bags have to be opened can passengers insist security staff wear gloves, masks and cleanse bags before handing them back?

Once through security the next issue is duty fee and other shops. Will they adopt supermarket rules and mark out distances by the tills? Will screens and masks be introduced to protect staff?

Will restaurants and cafes be allowed to open? Will people have to sit one (or a family group) at a table with table numbers being substantially reduced?

What of passengers seating? Will certain seats be blocked off so that people cannot sit next to each other? And how will that work at gates where it is not uncommon for passengers to have to stand because all seats are taken?

After facing the same problems at passport control as they faced on departure, the baggage reclaim area is the next source of potential concern.

When returning and entering the baggage area, people mill around the carousels awaiting their luggage? Do airports wait until all the luggage has been deplaned and set out with spacing between bags and then people get called a couple at a time? Do we ban luggage collection at airports and use delivery services so they go straight to our homes thus reducing the possibility of contact?

And finally when we leave and exit via customs, will we be channelled slowly through one at a time with customs people in gloves and masks?

Are airports considering changes at all?

We will only know when announcements are made or they are forced to act

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