Behind the scenes: Flying during a pandemic

Category: Transportation

Behind the scenes: Flying during a pandemic

By: Natalie Rubino, Boston 25 News - Updated: July 8, 2020 - 7:24 PM

BOSTON — As air travel picks up many airlines are taking extreme measures to keep employees and travelers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Boston 25 News went behind the scenes at Boston Logan International Airport to see what it’s like to fly during the pandemic.


“We really had to change and recraft how we do our business,” said Henry Kuykendall, Senior VP of Delta’s Northeast Operations.

The changes start at check-in. Delta is encouraging contactless ticketing at their customer service counters. They’ve installed hand sanitizing stations, are giving out masks and are promoting social distancing with markers on the ground six feet apart.

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“We disinfect everything from the counters where customers touch, to the keyboards, to the phones where we do announcements,” said Melanie Rodriguez, an airport customer service agent.

Employees said air travel has picked up within the past week and they’re seeing more than just essential workers and people traveling to sick loved ones.

“We do see some families who are traveling. We see some of the young millennials who want to go to some places. So it’s basically who feels comfortable going,” Rodriguez said.

Planes are now boarded back to front and only 10 passengers at a time, but before they can board the plane undergoes electrostatic spraying.

“We spray the entire airplane. We’re not spraying one of five airplanes, two of five, we’re spraying every single departure, every single day and also wiping down the high touchpoints by hand,” Kuykendall said.

The air quality is also closely monitored; it’s based on each individual row. The vents above each row push the air to the floor and then out to the side where it runs through a filtration system. It’s done every two to five minutes.

“Those filters take out 99.9% of the particulates,” Kuykendall said.

Right now, Delta is only flying at 60% capacity and is not filling middle seats. The airline has also cut back on departures from Logan, going from 129 flights per day before COVID-19 to 25 flights per day during the month of July.

Kuykendall said the climb to pre-COVID-19 numbers will be slow with safety being the number one priority.

“Basically what we’ve seen with COVID, we have just witnessed the world get smaller. And I do think it’s going to be a slow rebound, as countries start to open up and states start to open up, until we get a handle on this pandemic globally,” Kuykendall said.

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