In the wake of COVID-19, cleanliness and sanitation are now inextricably linked with traveler safety. Businesses in the travel industry are implementing increased safety protocols to protect the health and safety of travelers as well as to help bring peace of mind to those that must travel.
While these practices were designed specifically to reduce the risk of the coronavirus, we can expect to see many become standard procedure as the general public places an increased focus on sanitation in the future.
Here are some of the changes that have already gone into effect for airports, airlines, hotels, and ground transportation services.
As the gateways to air travel, airports are responsible for the safety of all travelers that pass through them. In the past, their focus has largely been on security and TSA protocol. Now, airports must also place their focus on the health of travelers.
Akron-Canton Airport, for example, is taking proactive measures to improve the cleanliness of their facility as well as their sanitation standards. A few examples include:
- Installing new hand sanitizer dispensers in high-traffic areas around the airport.
- Increasing the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting public areas, including restrooms.
- Sanitizing bins and trays at the TSA security checkpoints at least once per hour.
- Screening staff members’ temperatures upon arrival.
- Posting reminders about social distancing protocol, encouraging up to 6 feet of space between travelers at all times.
To help give travelers peace of mind, many airlines have announced updates to their routine cleaning and sanitation practices. Most also require all passengers to wear face masks.
For example, United Airlines has shared several new protocols intended to protect the health and safety of their passengers. These new procedures have come about under the guidance of the airline’s newly-appointed on-site medical director and include:
- Sanitizing aircraft cabins between flights by disinfecting all customer touch points as well as using an electrostatic sprayer.
- Implementing the same high-efficiency air filters used in hospitals to remove airborne particles.
- Minimizing touchpoints between crew and passengers to help reduce any unnecessary onboard contact.
- Installing sneeze guards at check-in counters and gate podiums.
They have also announced several changes to their processing and inflight service for the duration of the coronavirus outbreak:
- Minimizing contact between agents and customers by having customer self-scan boarding passes.
- Enforcing 6 ft. tape rule at ticket counters.
- Temporarily shutting down self-service kiosks to reduce touchpoints.
- Boarding fewer passengers at a time and boarding customers back-to-front by rows.
- Requiring all flight attendants to wear a face covering or mask while on duty.
- Flight crew will hand food to customers rather than customers selecting from a tray.
For more information, visit United’s COVID-19: What we’re doing to keep customers and employees safe resource center.
Hotels are also increasing their sanitation and cleanliness requirements in the hopes of giving travelers the confidence to book their stay.
IHG, for example, has released their “Commitment to Cleanliness” that details how they plan to keep their guests safe. This includes:
- Providing expert information, enhanced protocols, and published resources for their hotel teams based on the advice of global health organizations, including the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.
- Enhancing cleaning and disinfection procedures for guest rooms.
- Publishing a schedule for disinfecting public areas of the hotels, such as lobbies and meeting rooms, every 1-2 hours.
- Increasing how often hotel teams disinfect high touch surfaces, such as faucets, phones, door handles, and elevator buttons.
- Disinfecting the check-in counter after every guest check-in.
According to IHG, their goal is to provide both staff and guests with peace of mind as well as uphold their commitment to True Hospitality through their additional guidance and support.
For more information and the latest information about how the hotel group is handling the coronavirus outbreak, visit IHG’s Travel Advisory page.
Rental car companies are considered an essential business for customers with critical transportation needs. For the health and safety of their staff and customers, these companies are working to reduce contact during transactions as well as to assure customers that they are observing the highest standards for cleaning and sanitation of each car between reservations.
Enterprise has implemented these precautionary measures to protect and support both their staff and their customers:
- Limiting physical locations by moving operations to centralized branches.
- Allowing customers to book from any branch either online or over the phone and arranging a vehicle transfer point if necessary.
- Adding curbside rentals to minimize the number of people entering the store.
- Observing social distancing protocols while delivering vehicles to customers.
- In addition to standard vacuuming and cleaning, staff are disinfecting and sanitizing all high-touch areas such as the key or key fob, dashboard, mirrors, steering wheel and column, and more.
For more information, visit Enterprise’s coronavirus response page: Our Response, Our Responsibility.
For more information regarding travel or the health and safety practices of businesses within the travel industry, please reach out to your designated Professional Travel team.
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