Heading to the airport during the coronavirus pandemic? Here’s what to expect

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Although most people are avoiding air travel during the coronavirus pandemic, if you need to fly and haven’t been in a South Florida airport in the past few weeks, here is what to expect, courtesy of Greg Chin, communications director for the Miami-Dade Aviation Department, and Greg Meyers, public information officer of the Broward County Aviation Department...


Q: Are the digital passport control machines and Global Entry kiosks still being used?

Yes. The passport control and Global Entry kiosks have anti-microbial surfaces and are being cleaned by MIA staff after every other use, as well.

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Q: What social distancing efforts are in place for the airport’s public gathering places such as gate areas, lounges, security lines, ticket lines and restaurants?

MIA staff is assisting U.S. Customs and Border Protection, TSA and airline staff with encouraging passengers to practice social distancing if they are waiting in a queue line.

Q: Are passengers allowed to take hand sanitizer through security checkpoints?

Yes. According to the TSA website, passengers are allowed to carry liquid hand sanitizer up to 12 ounces, but “passengers can expect that containers larger than the standard allowance of 3.4 ounces permitted through a checkpoint will be screened separately.”

Q: What is the latest on travel restrictions and what is the protocol for screening incoming passengers at Miami International Airport?

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On Mar. 11, the U.S. banned the entry of foreign nationals arriving from China, Iran and the Schengen Area of 26 European countries – Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

As of Tuesday (March 17), federal travel restrictions were expanded to include foreign nationals departing from the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, affecting a total of 20 routes served by airlines at MIA, which are: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Dublin, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Helsinki, Lisbon, London Heathrow, London Gatwick, Madrid, Milan, Munich, Oslo, Paris (CDG), Paris (Orly), Rome, Stockholm, Warsaw and Zurich. Cruises have also been given a Level 3 status.

Miami International Airport, which is America’s third-busiest airport for international passengers, is one of 13 U.S. airports designated to receive flights with American citizens and legal permanent residents coming from the high-risk areas.

Upon arrival, medical personnel contracted by the Department of Homeland Security is asking each passenger from these Level 3 European countries a series of health questions and is performing random temperature checks before they enter the passport control area.


Q: Are automated check-in kiosks, digital passport machines and Global Entry machines still operating?

Yes, they’re fully functional and operational. Travelers are being urged to use proper sanitary hygiene, whether that be gloves or anti-bacterial wipes. The passport entry machines in the international arrivals area have staff at each machine and are being wiped down between each passenger.

Q: What social distancing efforts are in place for the airport’s public gathering places such as lounges, gate areas, security lines, ticket lines and restaurants?

Airport staff is sanitizing chairs, armrests and handrails multiple times a day. The airport produced a 40-second public service announcement that runs over the public address system every 15 minutes reminding people to practice good hygiene. Also, they put coronavirus-related visual displays and messaging on the airport’s 84 monitors throughout the four terminals.

Q: What is the protocol for incoming passengers?

Domestic travel through the airport “is business as usual, just like any other day,” said Meyers. For international passengers, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol are doing visual observations and some screening, but not doing temperature checks because flights from the hardest-hit “high risk” nations have been funneled to 13 other U.S. airports.

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