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How airport tech is trying to overcome Covid-19 restrictions



Airlines have used mobile apps for years for booking and digital tickets, but they may play an increased role in the boarding process to prevent overcrowding. Upon boarding, airlines may implement individual boarding times that notify each passenger when it is their time to board, eliminating the long lines associated with getting on the plane. “Virtual queuing” apps could allow passengers to wait in line without being physically present, creating less crowding and more opportunities for social distancing.

Airports may also use smartphones to alert passengers of high-flow, overcrowded areas throughout the building, allowing individuals to maintain social distance while navigating a potentially busy area.


Airlines are employing low-tech solutions to limit virus spread in planes, like requiring masks, keeping middle seats empty, and using high-strength disinfectant in between flights. Some are also looking to tech to reduce risk.

Especially on longer flights, air flow is vital to preventing the spread of Covid-19. Most planes already use high-efficiency particulate absorbing (HEPA) air filters, which eliminate 99.99% of microbes. One company also created “air shields,” or devices that attach to the air vents above each passenger and can reportedly direct air flow to prevent the sharing of respiratory droplets between passengers.

UV rays are effective in killing the coronavirus, but the typical UV-C rays are dangerous to humans, with risk of cancer and eye damage, and can only be used when a plane is not in use. Far-UV-C light, however, has not yet been shown to have the same risk, and is increasingly viewed as a potential continuous disinfectant tool on planes. Boeing, for example, is testing an airplane bathroom prototype that uses far-UV-C light to continuously disinfect the area.


Instead of requiring a formal passport for ID verification, some governments and airlines are turning to facial recognition to reduce physical contact between flyers and employees to lower the potential spread of germs. This would allow travelers to use their faces to confirm their identity, speeding up the international entry process while reducing touchpoints for both travelers and customs agents.

Though non-contact boarding and customs were already gaining traction before the Covid-19 pandemic, with companies like JetBlue, Delta, and Air France rolling out biometric boarding, interest in biometrics by airports and airlines is reportedly increasing

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