By Alecia Reid

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — While health officials are sounding the alarm about traveling this holiday season, American Airlines is getting ready for a travel experience that is unlike anything in year’s past.

The CDC is urging Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving in order to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. However, there are people who plan to do just that.

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At Philadelphia International Airport, airlines are working to keep passengers safe.

“This is the first time I’ve flown since all this,” Terry Vandernoot, of West Chester, said.

Vandernoot is heading to Maine to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with her husband. They think the risk is worth the reward.

“People have said it’s a lot cleaner than it used to be, probably the HEPA filters and things like that,” Vandernoot said.

American Airlines gave CBS3 a behind-the-scenes look at their cleaning practices and also how they now offer touchless check-in and bag tags.

You basically use the American Airlines App, scan it to check-in, and everything prints out.

For those who still prefer talking to an agent, they have plastic shields offering extra protection for both the employee and the passenger.

Once you get to your gate, they offer touchless ticket scanning.

American Airlines officials tell CBS3 there is no social distance on any of their aircraft, but there is hospital-grade air constantly flowing.

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“Even if the middle seat on the airplane is open, it is still literally impossible to have six feet between you and another person,” American Airlines VP of Northeast Hubs & Gateways Jim Moses said.

The airline wants the public to understand how seriously they take precautions in order to create a safe experience for their journey.

Before each flight, five to six team members sanitize main customer touchpoints on their planes. It takes about 20 minutes and overnight there is a deeper cleaning that takes an hour-and-a-half with anywhere from eight to 10 team members. The crew says the chemical lasts up to 10 days

There are 65% fewer passengers flying in and out of Philly compared to last year. But right now, the busy season is ramping up.

“We will average 161 daily departures from Philadelphia with our peak day being Sunday, the 29th of November at 224 daily departures,” Moses said.

This week and next week will be quite busy, with the Sunday after Thanksgiving being the busiest.

In addition to measures rolled out by the airlines, the airport is touting extra safety precautions from the front door through the food court.


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