Even before COVID-19 made travel a hazardous activity, airports were known as the least favourite part of the trip. Now, with the world completely changed because of the pandemic, navigating the airport takes on a whole new meaning. Here are some dos and don’ts on how to survive the airport during this new normal.
Check the travel advisories
Travel restrictions are in place but are not consistent around the world. Before planning a trip, be it around Canada or out of the country, and be it for pleasure or necessity (like a family emergency), check the local provincial and Government of Canada’s travel advisories.
As it stand right now (June 2020), the Government of Canada advises against all non-essential travel outside of Canada, and to avoid cruise ships until further notice. Even as travel restrictions ease, there will be pockets of outbreaks or countries that have not achieved a level of control over the virus, so the advisories will change frequently. If you do go ahead and book travel to a non-advised location, be aware that you may become trapped at your destination if the situation shifts and flights to Canada are restricted.
Check the airline
There is no need to go to the airport if your airline is not operating flights to your destination. Many airlines have cancelled or changed routes and this situation remains fluid. Do not assume that you can catch a flight that you took in the past.
Temperature checks and health screening
Be prepared for contactless temperature checks and to be asked health questions. This is for your protection as much as it is for the airport staff and your fellow travellers. If you feel ill or have had contact with someone that has COVID-19, do not wait to be screen out or hope that you can slip past the screening process – avoid the airport at all costs. Your moment of indiscretion could lead to hundreds of people becoming ill or passing away. Although the health screening may seem annoying or invasive, without a vaccine or even a good understanding of the virus in place, this screening is one of the ways used to stop the global spread.
Wear a mask – and bring a spare
Many airports are requiring the use of masks while in the terminals, and many airlines are requiring the use of masks while on the flight. Bring a couple of masks with you. On long flights and layovers, your mask may become uncomfortable, especially if you sneeze or are overheated. Putting on a fresh mask can help. Keep sanitizer with you so you can clean your hands before you change or adjust the mask.
Sanitizer, sanitizer, and more sanitizer
Not only are the teams at the airport routinely sanitizing touchpoints like keypads and kiosks, you’ll be asked to sanitize your hands frequently too. Sanitizer will be available throughout the terminals. Make use of it after you touch any communal surface.
With fewer travellers you may expect a quick trip through the airport, but don’t be too hasty! Expect delays. With the new sanitization protocols in place and rigours health screening, in addition to the fact that everyone must stay socially distant while communicating through a mask, expect your journey through the terminal to take a little longer than usual.
No matter how you feel about the pandemic situation, it is important to follow Canada’s travel advisories and to be compliant with the requests made of you at the airport. COVID-19 is deadly for some, and apart from sanitizing, mask wearing, and social distancing, there is little we can do stop its progression until a vaccine is found. Now is the time to explore your own neighbourhoods and cities, but if you must go to the airport, start prepping far ahead, bring a mask (or two), and follow the directions for movement, sanitization, and checkpoints as you go through the airport and board your flight.