MIAL (Representative Image)
In its endeavour to ensure flyers do not fall prey to the deadly coronavirus, GVK Mumbai International Airport Ltd is trying to ensure a 'touchless process,' right from the moment a passenger enters the terminal, till the time of boarding.
The attempt gains importance as fliers in different parts of the country have tested positive for COVID-19, raising concerns over flying. The airport however, wants to send across the message that traveling is safe.
"We basically want to ensure there is no physical contact when the passenger is in the airport," said a senior executive from the industry.
For instance, the check-in counters have been converted for baggage drops. The passenger, who would have already done web check-in and has put tag on the luggage, can directly come to the counter.
At the counter, which has a barrier, the staff will check the passenger's identity card through a magnifying glass, whereas earlier the flier would hand over the document to be verified.
The government had resumed domestic flights from May 25. Despite initial apprehension from the Maharashtra government, it later allowed partial opening of service at the Mumbai airport. This included up to 25 arrivals and an equal number of departures.
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Nationally, the first few days of the flights resumption have seen fliers testing positive for COVID-19, after completing a flight. On May 27 itself, about 10 fliers have tested positive.
The security check
Among the most critical part, and sometimes the most physical too, of boarding a flight is the security check.
Interestingly, this may also be the part that has the highest risk of transmitting a virus. One of the reasons is the frequent handling of the tray used to keep belongings like wallets and belts before heading for the security check.
"Studies have shown that plastic security screening trays are frequently contaminated with respiratory viruses, therefore cleaning of these should be intensified and hand-disinfectant placed at the entry and exit of the security locations to encourage hand hygiene," says one of the guidelines by European Union Aviation Safety Agency.
At the Mumbai airport, a staff has been stationed to keep cleaning the tray with disinfectant at regular frequency.
MIAL has also taken a step to avoid frisking. "If a passenger walks through the metal detector without getting a red beep, then he or she doesn't have to be frisked, " said an executive, who didn't want to be named. "We have taken permission from the government for this," the executive added.
To get that green beep, the passenger has to remember to keep away anything that has metal, including belts, shoes and jewellery, either in the bag or the tray.
Another interesting tweak is changing the location of the scanning machine used to scan boarding passes at the boarding gates.
Till now, an airline personnel would manually take the boarding pass from the passenger standing in the queue, scan it and then hand it over. Then the passenger who walk on.
Now, to avoid the exchange, the scanning machine has been placed on top of the counter, so that the passenger herself can scan the boarding pass.
Will these steps assure passengers enough for them to start flying?Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak here