*Updated April 2021

How airlines and airports are keeping travelers safe.

2020 knocked us off of our feet, and it was impossible for any of us to forecast the full impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our industry. Though we have all been set back, ALHI is looking at ways we can all safely get Back to Business.

For months, ALHI has been laser-focused on gathering best practices and insights from our industry partners, as well as several federal, state and local government organizations. Our goal: to share real data and trends from trusted sources in order to educate our clients, our members and the industry at large to ensure confidence about the path ahead.

The situation continues to be fluid, and ALHI is dedicated to providing updated information in a timely and expert-sourced manner. Here, we take a look at safety measures airlines and airports have implemented to protect you when you are in the air, and connecting from one gate to the next.


For additional airline COVID-19 inquiries & details, click the links American Airlines Delta Airlines Southwest Airlines United Airlines
Required Masks / Face Covering X X X X
Limited Seating / Blocking   X    
HEPA Air Filters Onboard X X X X
Cleaning Procedures: Gate Area / Jet Bridge / Check-in's X X X X
Cleaning Procedures Plane X X X X
Limited in-flight Services X X X X
Modified Boarding Procedures   X X X
Closed / Consolidated Airline Clubs   X N/A  


Required Masks/Coverings

Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, JetBlue, Southwest and United Airlines are enforcing that all passengers, including those with medical disabilities, wear a mask over their noses and mouths. The mask requirement for each of these airlines applies to the entirety of flights, as well as in the airport, customer service counters and kiosks, at the gates and baggage claim areas, and in airline lounges. Only children under two years old are exempt from this rule.

If you are flying Delta and have a medical condition and cannot wear a mask, you will be required to complete a Clearance-to-Fly process which can take more an hour to complete.

HEPA Air Filters Onboard

HEPA air filters remove 99.97% of airborne particlessimilar to technology found 
in hospitals.

Limited Seating/Blocking

Delta will halt blocked seating starting May 1st, 2021.

American Airlines, Southwest and United Airlines are booking their fleets to full capacity and sell every seat available. If you are flying with either of these carriers, you will receive a notification from the airline if your flight is at capacity. If this is the case, passengers will have a chance to re-book at no charge.

Cleaning Procedures: Gate Area, Jet Bridge, Check-In

Based on the airline, detailed procedures can include extensive protocols for cleaning customer and team member areas throughout the airport such as ticket counters, gates, jet bridges and clubs. This can also include providing sanitization products such as wipes or hand sanitizer.

Cleaning Procedures: Planes

Cleaning procedures are based on the airline, but commonly include deep cleaning procedures on each plane from nose to tail using an electrostatic disinfectant and anti-microbial spray applied on every surface such as high-touch surfaces including seats, seatbelts, armrests, tray tables, overhead bin handles, flight attendant call buttons, and onboard lavatories. Sanitizing wipes will be available for Delta, JetBlue, Southwest and United passengers onboard to wipe down any surfaces upon request, and hand sanitizer is available on American and JetBlue.



Limited In-Flight Services

Airlines are removing or reducing in-flight services for short-haul flights. Some long-haul flights include limited services. Other modified services can include hot towel service, pillow and blankets, glassware, and non-essential materials such as in-flight magazines. Please check with your carrier to see if your flight applies.

Modified Boarding Procedures

Boarding will be restricted to allow for social distancing and other practices may include distancing measures, distance signage and floor markers; face masks are required.

Closed/Consolidated Airline Clubs

Airline clubs have consolidated features or closures completely. Please refer to your airline's club pages for more information.

TSA & Airport Security

In addition to the face coverings mandates issued by the airlines that require face coverings to be worn throughout the airport, TSA has its own precautions and allowances for making your way through security. They include:

Consolidated screening operations to adjust for reduced flight and passenger volumes
Increase in social distancing procedures to reduce direct contact between employees and the traveling public
Frontline employees to conduct routine cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces and security screening equipment
Frontline employees are required to wear face coverings and gloves. You may wear a face mask during the screening process, but a TSA officer may ask the traveler to adjust the face covering at any point during the screening process
TSA is allowing one liquid hand sanitizer container, up to 12 ounces per passenger, in carry-on bags

Travel will look different for some time to come, but if we all do it safely and with intention, we can successfully get back to traveling and meeting together soon.

Additional resources: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Delos, Global Biorisk Advisory Council, National Restaurant Association, Steelcase Event Experiences, Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Department of State (Travel.State.Gov), U.S. Food & Drug Administration and U.S. Travel Association.