New safety measures in place as airline passengers cautiously resume flights
TORONTO -- At the height of the pandemic air travel plunged by about 90 per cent worldwide, but now some passengers who need to travel for work or family reasons are getting back on airplanes.
After arriving at Toronto Pearson Airport, Abdalla Abdrabou said on his flight he felt safe, but that flying now seems like a totally different experience.
“Usually when you go to fly the airports are busy and everyone is having some fun, but now everyone is afraid of everything. It just doesn't feel the same," Abdrabou said.
Adrian Cornect said due to fewer flights he had two layovers of more than 12 hours, including a five hour stop in Toronto, before eventually flying to Winnipeg.
“With COVID-19, flights are being cut back and you can tell people are under a lot of stress," said Cornect.
Neeraj Khanna of Waterloo had to fly home from Singapore because his job changed due to the pandemic. He said while he felt safe on board, he called the flight a surreal experience.
“I wore my mask throughout the flight except for when I was eating. Some people were wearing a mask and a face guard so a lot of the passengers were very cautious as well," Khanna said.
Khanna explained that even though the airline took precautions, passengers were still anxious.
“Everyone is a little nervous and everyone is looking around to make sure there is distance between us and other passengers," he said..
At Pearson Airport, measures are in place to prevent the spread to COVID-19.
For example, all passengers and airport employees must wear facemasks and terminal access is now restricted to passengers flying on the same day only.
Friends and family not flying are not permitted to enter the airport and all passengers must maintain a safe physical distance of two metres whenever possible.
Also, all passengers must now undergo mandatory temperature checks and anyone who says they can't wear a mask must have a note signed and dated from a medical professional stating the condition they have that prevents them from wearing one.
Once on board some airlines are handing out kits to each passenger. One from Air Canada contains a mask, gloves, wipes, hand sanitizer and a bottle of water.
However, Consumer Reports found that COVID-19 precautions vary depending on the airline.
“In many cases the policies are conflicting. So, if you're flying on two different airlines on the same day, you may very well have two different sets of rules,” said Bill McGee, an aviation advisor with Consumer Reports.
Even though airplanes are being cleaned between flights it is advisable to wipe down your seating area, armrests, tray and even the air nozzle above your head.
If you choose a window seat you'll also have fewer interactions with passengers as they walk up and down the aisle.