LOS ANGELES — Air travel took a drastic hit during the coronavirus pandemic, but now LAX is reporting an increase in passengers departing from Los Angeles. As more people return to the airport, new protocols are being put in place to ensure safety of travelers and employees.
Some of the new initiatives being rolled out at LAX are touchless water fountains, self-cleaning elevator buttons, limited touch kiosks, and self-luggage drops.
LAX Deputy Executive Director of Operations, Michael Christensen, and his team are implementing these changes to make travelers feel comfortable.
“We were ground zero and there’s been a lot of attention placed on us and a lot of concern people have over traveling, so we need to do everything we can to enhance this and make it as safe as possible,” said Christensen.
Spectrum News 1 got a first look at how the airport is creating a touchless experience, like at the elevators. “The passenger doesn’t have to press a button," Christensen explained. "They just wait.” Certain elevators have self-cleaning buttons that are replaced after 90 days.
LAX also wants travelers not to fear holding onto escalators, so there are UV lights installed inside that will constantly clean the surface as it moves.
“We are letting people know that it’s safe, so they can go ahead and grab on to the handrail,” said Christensen.
There are more UV lights to clean the bathrooms too. Samples will be taken of surfaces to test the accuracy of the technology. All faucets are being replaced to automated ones as well.
Christensen said there are many new ways to limit exposure to people too. At TSA, you will scan your I.D. and boarding pass yourself, no longer needing to hand items back and forth.
Certain airlines also have self-bag drops or limited touch kiosks for check-in.
“Once we start opening back up and getting more passengers, we don’t want to have another reoccurrence,” said Christensen.
Charles Pannunzio on LAX's public relations team revealed the new information booth — on an iPad. Employees will be safe at home and can help customers with any needs, virtually.
Another program coming soon will be mobile food ordering. Guests can order and pay on their phones and pick up at a specific location — again, limiting touch and interaction. Smartphones will continue to become a major factor is creating a touchless environment while traveling.
Christensen said they are working closely with all their partners on these changes. LAX enforces certain rules that all airlines must follow, while extra precautions are voluntary.
“We are finding we are aligned with our stakeholders in our desires to create a touchless experience, to make this as safe as possible, and to enhance the confidence of the traveling public,” said Christensen.
Right now, some of the technology will not be seen in all areas of the airport. The different initiatives will be rolled out over time to different terminals. LAX will also be tracking the success and failures of each program, while making changes accordingly.