Flying This Summer? Expect Temperature-Taking, Masks And Less Space At The Bar

TSA agent outside of LAX's Tom Bradley International Terminal. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

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As you flash your ID and pull liquids out of your carry-on baggage, you might be asked to reveal something else at LAX this summer — your body temperature.

LAX does not routinely take passengers' temperatures just yet, but that step is being considered by the airport's COVID-19 task force. It could be part of a new initiative to bring fliers back to the airport, where passenger travel was down by more than 95 percent in April over the same period last year. May is seeing a slight increase in traffic, but such low passenger numbers haven't been seen since 1955.

Individual airlines can set their own policies about taking temperatures, and the CDC is screening some passengers coming into LAX from certain international cities.

HAND SANITIZER: BRING IT ON

Temperature-taking is just one more way that travel will have a very different look and feel this summer.

First, you will be wearing a mask everywhere inside the terminals, not just when you're around other people. The TSA will allow passengers to bring their own hand sanitizer container, up to a generous 12 ounces — that's more than three times the volume of any other liquid allowed in carry-on baggage.

And while you can take your mask off to drink your airport beer or eat your airport burger, you won't be sitting at an airport bar among a convivial group of airport sports groupies.

Yes, the pandemic has stripped the sheen off our favorite passenger pastimes. But it's a minor sacrifice when compared with the coronavirus exposure that flight attendants, TSA officers, airport cleaners and food servers have been facing every day for months to keep airports functioning during the downturn.


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NO TICKET OR TICKETED FRIEND, NO ENTRY

There are other changes at LAX — terminal buildings are now off limits to the general public. That rule, which kicked in in late April, says that anyone who is not a ticketed passenger, or accompanying one, may not enter baggage pickup and ticketing areas that were previously accessible to eveyone.

That rule, theoretically, will bar homeless people who had been sheltering in baggage claim areas. An airport spokesman said they are now being referred to social workers to find alternate places. Since March, the entire airport has been closed from midnight to 5 a.m. to allow deep cleaning.

Other Southern California airports — including Long Beach, John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Ontario International and Hollywood Burbank also require face coverings for workers and passengers.

All the airports are attempting to help passengers stay farther away from each other and airport workers. You'll see plastic panels and floor markers to help prompt physical distancing, and no-touch check-in scanners to board flights. And you'll hear repeated announcements asking for face covers, frequent handwashing and use of the many hand sanitizer stations.

OUTDOOR BOARDING OPTIONS

If being in an enclosed jetway with other passengers makes you nervous, Hollywood Burbank and Long Beach airports have outdoor flight boarding. You walk out onto the tarmac to climb a staircase or ramp to board planes.

Long Beach Airport has one more open-air advantage. After you get through TSA security checks, you can wait for your flight outdoors in a garden setting. There are also large outdoor meet-and-greet areas outside the secured zone. Masks are still required of workers, visitors and passengers.

Starting in November, Southwest Airlines will begin flying out of Long Beach to Phoenix Sky Harbor airport, a major connection point for flights to the rest of the nation, giving you one more reason to fly LGB.

Ashley Holmes wore a mask to protect from the coronavirus as she traveled through LAX on Feb. 28. (Sharon McNary/LAist)