The Airport Experience During the COVID-19 Pandemic
On July 8th, a member of our team had the opportunity to experience the reality of an airport visit during the COVID-19 pandemic at the Montréal-Trudeau International Airport (YUL). This guided tour, organized by Skyteam partner airlines Delta, KLM and Air France, along with Aéroports de Montréal (ADM), offered participants a deeper look into the safety measures and protocols implemented following the pandemic, from the perspective of a traveller. Julien Lachance, Analyst and Account Executive in our Strategic Partnerships team took the time to share his experience with us.
Just arrived at the airport, Julien was impressed by the precautions taken against COVID-19. First, only people with a boarding pass can enter the terminal; families and friends who come to drop off or pick up a traveler must stay outside. In addition, at the entrance, the travellers’ temperature is taken while they wait in line. This line leads to a counter where an employee, behind a plexiglass, asks them to wash their hands, gives them a mask (which is mandatory) and goes through a short health questionnaire. In the case a traveller shows unusually high temperature, the person is directed to another room called the "cooling zone". In this room, travellers can take time to cool down; with the recent summer temperatures, it is possible they are simply hot and not actually suffering from a fever. They are given 10 minutes to return to their normal temperature, then their temperature is taken again. If it is still too high, they are given another 10 minutes to cool down, after which a third and final reading of their temperature is made. If it is still above 38 °C, the person cannot go further into the airport. It was clarified during the visit that this hardly ever happens. Julien found it very reassuring to know that no one with a fever can enter the airport.
The self-service kiosks
Self-service check-in kiosks used to print boarding passes should not be touched by travellers. There is an airline representative at each terminal; they are the ones who can touch the screen. Travellers only scan their documents. However, you can save time and avoid unnecessary contact, by checking in online up to 24 hours in advance. This will allow you to have your boarding pass directly on your phone and avoid this step at the airport.
The security checkpoints
At the airport security checkpoints, the bins in which personal items must be placed before crossing the metal detectors are disinfected between each use. An employee is entirely dedicated to this task. In addition, manual searches are rarer than usual.
The boarding gate
Boarding of the aircraft is done by zone. This was already the case before the pandemic, but passengers did not always follow instructions and often waited standing in front of the gate waiting for their zone to be called. Today, this protocol is applied more strictly and employees do not hesitate to ask people to sit back down if they are not boarding immediately. Boarding begins at the rear of the aircraft and ends at the front. Also, at the gate, you will be asked to scan your documents yourself through a hole in a plexiglass partition.
Other useful things to know
- VIP lounges are temporarily closed. To find out which restaurants and businesses are also closed, see this web page.
- There is no alcohol served on airplanes at this time.
- We recommend that you wear the mask provided by the airport as they are real medical masks, unlike those made of fabric.
- To read ADM’s travel advice, visit their website.
This guided tour served as a great demonstration of the safety measures put into place to lower the risk of travelling during the pandemic. Julien felt safer visiting the airport than the grocery store! The measures are stricter and have been consistent since the start of the pandemic, unlike other public buildings. In addition, during the visit the airport was almost empty; our analyst says that he saw around forty travellers in two hours, which greatly helps with social distancing. In short, if you must travel during the pandemic, you can go to the airport with confidence! However, for your safety and that of others, it is important to stay informed and mindful of the safety protocols in effect, as these can vary for each airline, as well as at your destination.
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