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Flying gets massive facelift as airlines cope with COVID crisis

Seattle-Tacoma Airport. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

When you finally decide it’s time to take a flight again, you will have a vastly different experience flying than you’re used to.

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The changes will start as soon as you hit the airport, and they will last until you arrive at your destination. They are on the ground and in the air.

You’ll notice the social distancing measures at check-in and through security, but it will be at security where you will experience one of the biggest changes: temperature scanning.

Some airports are having security staff check passengers manually. Others will be using thermal cameras to check for passengers with elevated temperatures. If you have a fever, you will likely be denied access to your flight.

Some airlines might require passengers to sign health declarations or carry “immunity passports” to show that they have had and recovered from COVID-19.

KLM is already requiring passengers from high-risk countries to sign health declarations. That could impact anyone from Seattle flying to Amsterdam right now. Washington is one of 20 states considered high risk by the airline.

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The boarding process is also changing. A lot of airlines are now boarding in small groups and loading from the back of the plane forward. You will be required to wear a mask while on the airplane. Ryanair has even gone so far as to restrict bathroom use while in flight. If you need to go, you need to raise your hand and be called on.

Getting off the plane will be different, too. No more crush of everyone standing up. Flight attendants will file you out, like you see at a wedding. You go when it’s your row’s turn.

You should also expect more down time between flights, as airlines will need more time to clean and disinfect the planes. United Airlines plans to use electrostatic foggers on all flights by June, allowing workers to disinfect an entire plane in about 10 minutes.

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