Airport Experience Since COVID-19
Since Covid-19 first entered our vocabulary in February, the airline industry has invested in the development of extensive, scientifically based health and sanitation protocols to protect air travelers. I recently had the opportunity to observe these protocols in action on a visit to Delta Air Lines’ Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport operation, and here’s what I learned.
The level of cleanliness in the airport and onboard the aircraft rivals that of a hospital. At the airport, surfaces, floors, and restrooms are cleaned constantly. Delta has a team that constantly wipes down each self check in kiosk, and hand sanitizer is everywhere. Lines have been eliminated where possible, and distancing reminders on the floor help reinforce the message in places where crowds can form.
Delta’s Delta Clean protocol on their aircraft is very impressive and comprehensive. It starts with each aircraft being electrostatically fogged between each and every flight – the electrostatic fog latches on to any contaminates and sterilizes them immediately. Then, a team wipes down every surface onboard – tray tables, seats, arm rests, overhead bins, handles, and bathrooms. I’ve never seen cleaner aircraft.
Facemasks are required in the terminal, and Delta requires them on every flight – no exceptions. Boarding on Delta has been redesigned to provide more personal space, so it is done in small groups, from the back to the front. And unlike other major carriers, Delta has blocked the center seat on every aircraft, until the end of 2021. Service onboard has been reduced, but Delta provides each passenger with an amenity kit containing a bottle of water, small snack, and hand sanitizer.
Both aircraft and the terminal itself have upgraded ventilation systems that replace 100% of the air every three to six minutes. On the aircraft, hospital-quality filtration systems rapidly replace cabin air with 100% fresh air. Air flows up and down on an aircraft, not front to back, so each row benefits from a sort of air barrier between it and the rows ahead and behind.
Delta takes employee health seriously as well. All staff undergo a health screening and Covid test before work, and staff have access to Covid tests at any time they wish. Airport personnel are also routinely screened.
For today’s traveler, these protocols provide reassurance and peace of mind while traveling.