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Monday, July 6, 2020

Air Passengers Could Face Long Waits Due To COVID-19 Rules

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CHICAGO (CBS) — You might want to get to the airport early next time you fly — three hours early — and that’s in the United States. It’s thanks to strict rules from the Transportation Safety Administration because of COVID-19.

The new procedures have been in place for weeks at some airports but have now rolled out nationwide.

Along with their carry-ons and luggage, passengers are going to have to pack some patience because they are going to need a lot of extra time. CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot spoke with CBS News Travel Editor Peter Greenberg to get his insight.

Workers have to change gloves after every single passenger.

“Every time you process a passenger, you’re going to add a minute and half to two minutes per passenger,” Greenberg said. “Now add to that the physical distancing of social distancing between passengers. The airports were never built for that anyway, even before the pandemic.

In May the TSA announced the following changes with COVID-19 in mind, but many were not put into effect at all airports with TSA checkpoints until recently:

  • Passengers will place boarding passes on readers and have no physical contact
  • TSA officers will wear masks and gloves
  • You’ll be asked to pull your mask down to confirm your identity
  • Bins will be cleaned with disinfectant and wiped down between passengers
  • Shields are being put in place between TSA officers and travelers

With all of those changesGreenberg says you’ll need to arrive a lot earlier at the airport, so you don’t miss your flight.

“The whole idea of getting to an airport two hours early may be too late,” he said.You may want to get to the airport three hours early because it’s going to be that much slower.”

Greenberg also says one thing that’s going to be hard to police this summer is travelers driving from states with high COVID-19 numbers to other states for vacation and whether they’ll self-quarantine for 14 days.

“It’s very difficult to enforce it,” he said. “It may be physically impossible to enforce it. They don’t have the manpower or the womanpower to do it in any state. It’s the honor system. Short of having state troopers at the border, turning away every license plate that doesn’t belong to that state, it’s going to be tough to police.”

Greenberg says for those traveling by car, one tank of gas destinations will be the norm. They’ll be going to places like state parks and camp grounds with social distancing in mind.

CBS Chicago

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