Safe Travels: What to expect at airports as millions prepare to travel for Thanksgiving

(WSVN) - With COVID cases spiking across the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now urging people to stay home this Thanksgiving, but still, it’s expected millions will be hopping on a plane for the first time since the pandemic. 7’s Kevin Ozebek shows us how to have safe travels.

Airports again are getting busy! So, before take off, the new safety protocols start here on the ground at the airport.

Greg Chin, Miami International Airport: “Facial coverings are required in the airport, so once you step foot inside the airport, you must have some sort of facial covering on.”

And that applies to both MIA and FLL.

At check-in, you’ll now see Plexiglas shields separating you from the agent, but doctors say to be extra safe, check in online at home and use mobile boarding passes.

Dr. Terry Adirim, Florida Atlantic University: “I would really look into doing as much as you can hands free.”

At TSA checkpoints, agents are now behind barriers, and there are new procedures.

You may be asked to insert your passport or driver’s license into one of these scanners.

Daniel Ronan, Transportation Security Administration: “We want passengers to do that themselves, so they don’t have to hand their ID to somebody else.”

7News was given rare access inside a check point, so we could see how cleaning crews are constantly wiping down all the bins and surfaces.

Agents also have 3D baggage screeners, so they don’t have to hand search as much luggage.

Now, it’s time to board!

Field Sutton, Spirit Airlines: “Once you get on the aircraft, my advice is just try and stay calm. If you haven’t flown recently, it is going to feel strange.”

Experts say wipe your seat with disinfectant before sitting down.

Dr. Terry Adirim: “The airlines are doing a very good job at cleaning their planes before people board, but it can give you a sense of confidence that at least your area is clean, and once you sit down in your seat, reach overhead and turn the vent so the airflow is at maximum. It pulls the air all the way down. It keeps it vertical.”

Here’s why that vertical airflow on board is crucial.

The Department of Defense fitted jets with this particle spitting mannequin and particle detecting sensors in every seat.

With a downward airflow and efficient filtration system, the study found you’d have to sit next to an infectious person for at least 54 hours to receive a dangerous dose of COVID-19.

Dr. Terry Adirim: “They found the particles didn’t really go very far, and if people wear masks, it is really a safe environment while you’re flying.”

And to further boost passenger confidence, American Airlines is deep cleaning with a virus killing electro-static spray.

Spirit Airlines is fogging aircraft so all surfaces are left with a coating that protects passengers from microorganisms.

Frontier Airlines is hand cleaning every single seat in-between flights, and on all airlines, masks are mandatory.

Jake Filene, Frontier Airlines: “We’ve denied boarding to a number of people because they don’t want to wear a mask.”

Field Sutton: “At this point, we have banned nearly 300 people from flying Spirit because it is not worth it to us. We don’t want you on our plane if you are not going to wear a mask.”

And once you land, doctors say keep that mask on when you hop into a taxi or Uber.

Dr. Terry Adirim: “Always wear a mask. Don’t crowd in the car, especially with other people that are not part of your family unit.”

And as travel picks up, so will the measures to stop the virus from spreading.

At Tampa International Airport, you can now get a rapid COVID test before you board.

MIA will offer the same service next month.

It’s all to make sure you have safe travels.

TSA still only allows 3.4 ounce liquid bottles in carry-ons, but now with one exception. You are allowed to travel with up to 12 ounces of hand sanitizer.

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