The Thanksgiving holiday is expected to bring with it the highest volume of air travel since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The spike in passenger traffic will also coincide with a nationwide spike in COVID-19 cases.
“You know we have been dealing with this now for probably seven, eight-months as this is evolving and I think we are at the point now where we have addressed every safety facet that you experience as you come through the airport,” said American Airlines Senior Vice President Joe Taney.
On Thursday, NBCDFW got an inside look at the procedure American Airlines uses to disinfect and “turn around” every one of their thousands of daily flights. Since the start of the pandemic, the process has grown in intensity and sophistication.
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“We have upped our game substantially to where we do this enhanced cleaning now,” said Taney.
In addition to a cleaning between every flight, Taney said every aircraft receives a 90-minute deep cleaning at the end of each day. Additionally, ticket counters and other areas of the passenger experience have gone increasingly “touchless” and also receive repeated disinfecting treatments during the day.
Studies have shown airports are among the safest public spaces and the sophisticated filtration systems onboard aircraft make them safer than initially thought. But doctors are also reminding travelers that air travel, due to the challenges of socially distancing, does come with a heightened risk.
How to Avoid COVID-19 Infection:
The best way to prevent infection is to take precautions to avoid exposure to this virus, which are similar to the precautions you take to avoid the flu. CDC always recommends these everyday actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
*Information shared from the Office of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott
“I recommend you wear a face shield if you can to make sure your eyes are covered and protected and I recommend not taking off your mask at any point,” said Dr. Beth Kassanoff-Piper.
But despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, American Airlines insists more is being done than ever before to ensure flying is safe.
“From just an environment standpoint to what we are doing for our team members and customers, it is very safe to travel right now,” said Taney.
*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.
**County totals below include all 32 North Texas counties, not just Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant.