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Airlines taking extra steps to clean and distance during travel

United Airlines provided a behind the scenes look at their procedures.
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Posted at 11:41 PM, Aug 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-04 23:41:54-04

TAMPA, Fla. -- With more people starting to travel again, airlines are focusing on their cleaning, disinfecting and distancing procedures.

Tampa International Airport said while they saw a rapid increase in passengers from May to June, numbers have leveled off around 20,000 daily.

“Just wear your mask, wash your hands and don’t stress out too much,” said passenger Steve Burk.

Burk was taking a flight through United Airlines to head home.

On Tuesday, the airline gave ABC Action News an exclusive look at their procedures and what passengers can expect.

“It’s really important that customers understand the changes that have been made. You know safety is number one. It’s all about the safety of our customers and employees. And we want people to fly. And we want people to feel comfortable flying,” said John Lucht, the general manager for United Airlines in Tampa.

He said employees do a self-check and have temperature checks. Both airline staff and passengers must wear face masks. When a customer gets to the ticket counter, they’ll find touch-less check-in options and Plexiglas barriers.

“One of the things we do for our customers right is what we call a ready-to-fly checklist and it was developed in cooperation with the Cleveland Clinic and Clorox and our clean plus product and it’s a questionnaire that goes through and makes sure a customer is ready to travel and fly and healthy to fly,” said Lucht.

Lucht said customers are boarded from back to front. While they don’t require space between seats, travelers are notified if the flight has a more than 70 percent occupancy and given options to change the flight, cancel it or get a travel credit.

The plane itself is cleaned before each flight using an electrostatic sprayer.

“It sprays a mist over all of the surfaces on the airplane from the lavatories to the seats to the tray tables to the armrests to the overhead bins and it needs to sit about ten minutes to do its job,” said Lucht.

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Underneath the plane, they use a HEPA filter the airline says they change more than is required.

Other airlines are also taking steps and many also using the HEPA filters too.

Southwest Airlines said it’s using an electrostatic sprayer with an anti-microbial coating that kills for 30 days, re-applying every 30 days. They also disinfect during an overnight deep clean that takes six to seven hours cleaning interior surfaces and leave the middle seats open.

American Airlines is using a touchless check-in, increased cleaning and an electrostatic sprayer.

Delta said it’s blocking middle seats, sanitizing each flight with electrostatic sprayers and wipe down personal and common areas of the cabin.

Frontier said it’s using fogging technology to disinfect the aircraft and requires temperature screenings for crew and passengers.

Meanwhile, travelers say they’re taking precautions.

“With the coronavirus still going on and everything, you just never know who has what at the time but we’re trying to stay just have our composure and get back home,” said passenger Tyshay Leaks.

Lucht said after seeing travel demand start to come back, followed by a surge in cases, it started to decline again and is now trending back up. He said they’re running about 50 percent of their flight schedule.

“It all comes down to safety,” he said.