SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – Many people stayed home this past year, taking a hiatus from travel. But COVID vaccinations have renewed consumer confidence and record air travel numbers have been reported recently.
Our health expert, Karen Owoc, took to the skies and shares her first-hand observations.
- Getting past the security agent — Many travelers were showing their pass-ports (me included) — not aware of the REAL ID extension.
Due to the pandemic, the Dept of Homeland Security extended the REAL ID en-forcement from October 1, 2020 to May 3, 2023). After this deadline, you won’t get past airport security without a “REAL ID-compliant” driver’s license, US pass-port, US military ID, or other accepted. To get a REAL ID-compliant state drivers license, the US Dept of Homeland Security requires documentation showing:
• Full legal name
• Date of birth
• Social security #
• Two proofs of address of principal residence and lawful status.
Law passed by Congress in 2005: The REAL ID Act enacted the 9/11 Commission’s recommen-dation that the federal government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.”
- Moving through security — There are now acrylic barriers at various points throughout the checkpoint. Researchers found that security bins had the high-est count of bacteria.
• Don’t be “that guy”. Don’t wait until you get to the conveyor belt to remove your belt, watch, etc.
• Shoes are to be removed and placed directly on the X-ray belt (not in the bin).
• Belts and all personal items from your pockets (wallets, keys, phones) should go in your carry-on bag (not in the bin to prevent contamination).
• Wedding rings and earrings can stay on.
What goes in the bin: Only electronics larger than a cell phone (e.g., laptops, tablets, e-readers, handheld game consoles). Don’t place jackets or other items on or under electronics. Adhere your name to your devices. NOTE: If you have TSA PreCheck®, you do not need to remove shoes, belts, liquids, food, or light jackets.
- Masks of all types — From fashionable to homemade and still plenty of the standard surgical ones. Everyone was wearing one in the airport (except in the restaurants) and on the plane.
- Flight fashion flops (what NOT to wear) — Many adults and children were dressed in shorts, cutoffs, flip flops (which means they walked barefoot through the security checkpoints on the filthy airport floor).
- Airport bars and restaurants — All are open for business, and travelers are drinking and dining mask-free. Airport food is STILL expensive — that hasn’t changed.
- Babies still cry on flights — Children still need entertainment. Don’t forget to pack some books, snacks, and toys! How would you like to just look at the back of a seat for 4 hours? Just like you need to get up and stretch your legs, so do the little ones.
- Lavatory essentials — No seat covers. How could there be no seat covers during a pandemic? Other essentials: water, paper towels, soap.
- Deplaning discourtesy — We’re all anxious to get off the plane, but it’s common courtesy to deplane aisle by aisle (front rows first then the back rows). However, some passengers decided deplaning is based on the “first bag down is first one out” rule. Jumping several rows ahead of people who are waiting politely and patiently for their turn is still rude.
Vaccinated Wedding-Related Travel Dilemmas
Destination weddings, bachelor/bachelorette trips, postponed honeymoons are flooding the marketplace after a year of canceled celebrations. Now that air travel is back, you may be faced with traveling for weddings and wedding-related events, which can take up your vacation days and travel funds. Are you ready for the exposure and the expense?
The Takeaway: Nothing’s changed except travelers may be completely out of practice. Whatever you may have liked (or disliked) about flying before is back.