What you should know about Thanksgiving 2020 air travel

Technology

HOUSTON (CW39) There are just a few days left before Thanksgiving and if you have holiday travel plans that include flying, there are a few things you should be aware of.

To start with, passenger air traffic through Houston airports is expected to be down about 50% compared to this same time last year.

In total, there will be about 800,000 passengers through both Houston airports during the eleven day Thanksgiving travel period which started the Friday before the holiday and goes through the Monday after Thanksgiving.

With COVID-19 cases spiking back up, cleanliness of the airports may be something on your mind. Traci Rutoski, the custodial services manager, explains some of the cleaning measures they are taking.

“We are ready for you at Hobby Airport. We are making sure that this airport is clean that it’s sanitized and disinfected for you. Our staff is working really hard. We work three shifts, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. On all three shifts, we make sure that we are cleaning the restrooms, the floors, dumping the trash. We are disinfecting all of the touchpoints throughout the day. We are trying really hard to provide that environment for the passengers,” said Rutoski.

When it comes to the security lines, you’ll notice the extra precautions TSA is taking too. TSA officers will be masked up and they have installed acrylic barriers to help protect both the passengers and the officers. Additionally, they are in the process of installing credential authentication machines at airports all across the country. The machine can read your identification, thus reducing contact between passengers and TSA agents.

This time of year, there are always questions about what parts of your Thanksgiving meal you can fly with. Patricia Mancha with TSA explains, if it’s a solid, you can probably take it on board, but if you can spill it, spread it, or spray it, its probably going to have to be 3.4 ounces or less.

“For instance, a potato, you can take an uncooked potato no problem, however if you make it into mashed potatoes, that’s something that can be spread, so it’s not allowed in your carryon. However, you can pack it in your checked luggage,” said Mancha.

You can always use the @AskTSA feature on Twitter to ask about specific items you are unsure about.

Recently, both Hobby and Bush airports got a big technology upgrade that will help reduce wait times and enhance security.

Houston is the first U.S. city to have two airports equipped with facial comparison technology at international arrival checkpoints.

Here’s how it works. Passengers will step up to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspection point, a picture will be taken of their face and then compared to a federal database. The process just takes a few seconds.

Tanya Acevedo, the Chief Technology Officer of Houston Airports says they knew before the COVID-19 pandemic that the future is touchless and that passengers want to get to their destinations as quickly as possible while minimizing their time in line and minimizing what they touch. She says this facial comparison program is the next generation of the travel experience.

“We envision airports of the future where your face will be used from the moment you walk in at ticketing, baggage drop and TSA lines until the time you board your flight. It will be a completely touchless experience. Houston is close to realizing that future,” said Acevedo.

By the end of this year, 90% of the international boarding gates here at Bush will be equipped with facial comparison technology. Their goal is to be at 100% by the end of the first quarter of 2021.

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