Contact 2: St. Louis Airport adjusting to new normal of traveling during a pandemic

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ST. LOUIS – Life inside St. Louis-Lambert International Airport almost seemed normal on Thursday. But like the turning trees reminding us it’s autumn, masked travelers, sanitizer stations, and vending machines full of PPE are a stark signal of the new and not yet normal realities of pandemic travel.

“I feel like it’s really clean here. I feel pretty safe and comfortable,” said one traveler. “Even on the shuttle; they asked us to separate, which felt good.”

With the start of the holiday travel season weeks away, Airport Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge says the airport is ready to handle more travelers and more safety protocols.

“We’re cleaning the areas probably twice more a day than we were cleaning before,” she said. “And any area that gets high traffic or any area that has a large grouping at a single time, we go in afterwards and clean.”

On top of that, she said various sections of the airport get sprayed with a deep cleaning solution every couple of weeks.

“We’ve worked very hard in conjunction with the airlines to make sure the customers understand from the time you arrive at the airport to the time you get through security, to your gate, on the airplane, and your destination, all the measures taken to ensure that safety,” she said.

Hamm-Niebruegge said the last two weeks at Lambert have been its busiest since March. November and December travel should bring more travelers, as well as the threat of winter weather. Should passengers get stranded at the airport, there’s a plan.

“In really severe cases, we would be handing out pillows and blankets. We won’t be doing that this year. The concern with people handling and touching, so we won’t be doing that,” she said. “If people do choose to stay in the airport overnight and stay on one of the couches or in a corner, they will have to keep their mask on. We do staff the airport 24/7, so there will be patrols out to make sure people understand the mask requirements in place and they have to do that.”

If your holiday traditions involve air travel, know that if you’re leaving through Lambert, there’s a plan to keep you safe.

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