Through its highly lauded FlySafe Houston initiative, the Houston Airport System (HAS) continues to give full focus and attention to the safety and health of all passengers and employees through new and effective cleaning measures in our airports and buildings.
As COVID-19 continues to impact airports and travel, HAS remains committed to vigorous cleaning protocols that comply with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, as well as maintaining close contact with the CDC, the City of Houston Health Department and various entities germane to the combatting of COVID-19.
Most recently, Titan atomizing sprayers loaded with Oxivir disinfectant coupled with frequent touchpoint wipe downs are used in high traffic areas at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and William P. Hobby Airport (HOU). Oxivir is a CDC-recommended and EPA-approved cleaning agent and is effective in combatting COVID-19.
“We use the Titan sprayer in the children’s play area, to sanitize after we deep clean a restroom, and we spray the seats in the public area,” HOU International Services Manager Traci Rutoski said. “Every shift we frequently wipe down every touchpoint…for example, elevator buttons, chairs, handrails, doorknobs and public phones.”
Contractors working as wheelchair attendants have been provided disinfectant spray to sanitize the wheelchair touchpoints throughout the day. At night, they spray and wipe down the entire chair, so it’s ready for use the next day.
HAS has also invested in autonomous floor scrubbers that are programmed to run by themselves throughout the day. These cleaners can be outfitted with ultraviolet (UV) lamps to further disinfect surfaces.
Currently, they’re used to assist Custodial Services in the HOU West Concourse and checkpoint areas and are programmed to clean locations with low passenger traffic. When traffic increases, the machine will automatically go to a low flow area. Later when it senses the amount of people decreases, the machine will return to the missed cleaning cycle.
“We just push a button, and it runs,” Rutoski said.
In the IAH and HOU terminals, the following measures have been implemented and undertaken to maximize safety:
- masks/face coverings are worn by all HAS employees
- touchless kiosks are available at select airline ticketing counters
- facial comparison technology is used at select departing and immigration entry points
- deep cleanings
- social distancing markers are used in queues
- safety shields
- additional installment of hand sanitizer stations
- increased frequency of air filter replacements
- public announcements and signage promote good hygiene and social distancing.
Signs in English and Spanish on proper hand washing are also displayed in all HAS restrooms throughout the airport terminals and inside HAS buildings. HAS is also working on doubling the amount of hand sanitizer stations across the airports for use by employees and passengers in the coming weeks. Sanitizing wipes are also provided to passengers in the baggage claim areas.
HAS also strongly encourages the public to follow the preventative messages advocated by the CDC, such as thorough and frequent hand washing, avoiding contact with anyone who is sick and covering the nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing.
Michael Cantu, Custodial Services Division Manager at IAH, said “I think we’re doing right by our employees and passengers by following CDC guidelines and listening to the experts.”
“In the seven years that I’ve been in Custodial Services, we’ve never had to react like this,” Cantu said. “We’re on the forefront; a lot is on the line for us, and we’ve risen to the occasion. I really appreciate our staff and their commitment to a clean and safe environment.”
For our shuttles, trains and curbside areas, cleaning has been increased, seat capacity on shuttles was reduced to promote social distancing and cell phone lots are used to ease curbside congestion.
The FlySafe Houston initiative will aim to restore passenger confidence while traveling through our airports. Passengers want to know that at every step of their journey, their travel experience has layers of safety being implemented to keep them healthy.
Additional enhanced safety measures will also include sensors inside select terminals that help identify areas of passenger congestion where additional safety measures may be implemented. Houston Airports team members will also distribute FlySafe Houston kits that include a mask and hand sanitizer to ticketed passengers at terminal entrances at IAH and HOU.
FlySafe Houston has been featured by several major news outlets including Good Morning America and Univision. For more information on HAS’ commitment to ensuring the safety and health of passengers and employees, visit the FlySafe Houston website at: www.fly2houston.com/flysafe/.