TAMPA, Fla. - The coronavirus pandemic will continue to alter how passengers travel. Airlines and airports are announcing changes to make sure employees and customers are safe as Florida and many other states begin to reopen.
With demand so low, Tampa International Airport officials said about half the usual flights are currently running. But how passengers travel will change down to the look and feel of airports and airplanes.
For example, airlines are closing some check-in kiosks to encourage social distancing. And the lines for security may feel longer because passengers will be asked to leave space between one another.
Tampa airport employees will wear masks and airline companies have announced masks will also be required for flight crews. Some airlines are even extending that safety measure to travelers.
On Monday, JetBlue said masks will be mandatory for all passengers while boarding, the flight’s duration, and during deplaning.
American Airlines said employees will give out masks and hand sanitizer to passengers, expanding the practice to all flights as supplies allow.
Some airlines, including Delta and United, said they are blocking off middle seats to help with social distancing.
After video of a full American Airlines flight went viral last week, American Airlines officials said it is doing its part to limit the number of passengers on the plane.
American Airlines sent FOX 13 a statement, saying in part:
“On flights through May 31, American is limiting the number of passengers on each aircraft. As part of this limit, American will not assign 50% of main cabin middle seats or seats near flight attendant jump seats on every flight, and will only use those middle seats when necessary. Gate agents will also continue to reassign seats to create more space between customers or to accommodate families who need to be seated together. Once on board — as long as there aren’t any aircraft weight or balance restrictions — customers can move to another seat within their ticketed cabin subject to availability.”
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump said temperature checks and virus testing could be on the horizon.
“We’re looking at that and we’re probably going to be doing some of that,” said Trump.
Governor Ron DeSantis said that could be vital to protecting a tourism-dependent state like Florida.
“You have this Abbott Labs test. If you have some of these international flights, maybe some of these airliners, it should be on them to check before they’re getting on and coming to this country,” said DeSantis.
A Tampa International Airport spokesperson said the airport will release a much more detailed plan Wednesday for what the airport will do to help passengers feel safe whenever they decide to start flying again.
If you feel sick:
The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.
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