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Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport makes adjustments for safer travel during pandemic

Changes implemented for both outgoing and incoming passengers
Masked passengers make their ways up and down escalators at Anchorage's international airport.
Masked passengers make their ways up and down escalators at Anchorage's international airport.(KTUU)
Published: Nov. 12, 2020 at 10:18 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - For those traveling through Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport anytime soon, several adjustments made throughout the airport will likely be noticed, including at the airport’s security checkpoints and inside passenger terminals.

“We have special cleaning protocols to make sure that when you come into the terminal, you’re comfortable, and your experience is safe there," said TSAIA Manager Jim Szczesniak.

Among the policies the airport asks people follow are social distancing and keeping six feet apart from others as is possible; wearing a mask throughout your travel experience, including wandering terminals and on aircraft; practicing good hygiene, such as washing your hands regularly; and arriving at the airport early to allow adequate time for getting tickets, checking bags and getting through security.

Szczesniak said it’s also important that people complete check-in documents before arriving at the airport, if possible, and that travelers should check the policies, orders and mandates of their destinations to make sure they can still travel as they’d planned.

“Passengers, when they come back, if they fill it out when they have time on their hands, they will get through quickly,” he said. “If you wait, it probably takes about 15 minutes to fill out. So you’ll save a bunch of time if you do it in advance.

“Travelers should check the destination they’re going to,” he added, “because a lot of places have their own rules and regulations for when you arrive there.”

Traffic has also been down about 50% compared to last year, Szczesniak said, but an uptick for the coming holidays is still expected.

“Most of the carriers through the airport are running flights where they’re blocking the middle seat,” he said, “so that will ultimately have a capacity constraint. It will still be busy, but not as much as the traditional holiday.”

As for the security checkpoint at TSAIA, the main difference — aside from ample personal protective equipment and added cleaning and disinfecting measures being implemented — is a greater allowance for certain carry-on containers, specifically for hand sanitizer. A bottle of sanitizer, up to 12 oz., is now allowed to go on board, but other liquids must still be 4 oz. or less.

Additionally, an expired license and REAL ID extension are in place. According to the Transportation Security Administration, “if your driver’s license or state-issued ID expired on or after March 1, 2020, and you are unable to renew at your state driver’s license agency, you may still use it as acceptable identification at the checkpoint.” Licenses and state-issued IDs are accepted up to a year after expiration; the REAL ID enforcement deadline has been to Oct. 1, 2021.

While going through security, belts and personal items from pockets should still be removed. Food items should be removed out of carry-on bags and put inside bins if the passenger isn’t part of the TSA Pre-Check program. Szczesniak and TSA also suggest that any gifts remain unwrapped if they are being carried on the plane.

Now is also a good time to begin limiting contact with others in the event you’re traveling in the next few weeks.

You can learn more about TSAIA by visiting the airport website, and for additional coronavirus-related guidance straight from TSA, click here. For the State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services guidance for Alaska travelers, visit the DHSS website.

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