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New technologies

Updated September 03, 2020

Hong Kong International Airport is providing a glimpse into what international airport procedures might look like once travel resumes. The airport claims it's the first in the world to trial a live operation of CLeanTech, a full-body disinfection booth. The process requires the individual complete a temperature check before entering a small booth for a 40-second disinfection and sanitizing procedure. According to the airport authority, the inside of the facility contains an antimicrobial coating that can remotely kill any viruses and/or bacteria found on clothing, as well as the body, by using photocatalyst advances along with "nano needles." The individual is also sprinkled with sanitizing spray for "instant disinfection" inside the booth, which is kept under negative pressure, an isolation technique used in hospitals and medical centers, to prevent cross-contamination. This system aims to disinfect a person's clothes and skin externally and may not be effective when it comes to detecting those already infected with COVID-19 who may not be displaying symptoms.

Today CLeanTech is only being used on staff who undertake public health and quarantine duties for passenger arrivals.

Along with CLeanTech, the airport authority is testing an antimicrobial coating designed to destroy all germs, bacteria and viruses. It is being applied at all passenger facilities at the airport including handles and seats, smart check-in kiosks and check-in counters, baggage trolleys and elevator buttons.

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Robots keeping things cleaner

The travel industry is looking to harness ultraviolet C (UV-C) light, known to damage a virus’s DNA and RNA, to fight the spread of coronavirus.

Pittsburgh International Airport was already working with local startup Carnegie Robotics to test out autonomous cleaning robots that use water pressure and chemical disinfectant before the pandemic. After the virus hit, the company offered to install a UV-C component.

The four robots look like miniature Zambonis and are named for flying heroes— Amelia Orville, Wilbur, and Rose. The bots roam for eight to 10 hours a day before needing to recharge. The light, which is bright enough to damage eyes, is carefully encased to only hit the floor. The trial may be expanded to additional robots focused on cleaning the air train that moves between terminals and handrails.

Cleaning bots that use more traditional, Roomba-like techniques are on the job at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. The Neo is made by Canada’s AvidBots and uses 3D technology and lasers to map its routes and divert around kiosks, food carts, or stray children.

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New Travel Behaviors

TSA.gov
Updated August 29, 2020

Travel Recommendations

Updated August 29, 2020

Practice social distancing. Adjustments leading up to the security checkpoint include, increasing the distance between individuals as they enter the security checkpoint, placing visual reminders of appropriate spacing on checkpoint floors and staggering the use of lanes where feasible. No two airports are alike, so this could look a little different at each airport.

Keep possession of boarding passes. Instead of handing your boarding pass to security officers, expect to place your boarding pass (paper or electronic) on the boarding pass reader yourself.

Separate food for X-ray screening. You will likely need to place carry-on food items into a clear plastic bag and place that bag into a bin.

Put items in your own bag. When removing belts, wallets, keys and phones, put them directly into your carry-on bag instead of into the bins to reduce touch-points during the screening process.

Use facial protection. Security officers at checkpoints are now using facial protection and wearing gloves. You should too. Requirements will vary, but it can’t hurt to be prepared.

New procedures. Routine cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces in the screening checkpoint area. Plastic shielding has also been installed at many travel document checking podiums, bag search and drop off locations.

At the Airport