Air Travel Expectations for Fall 2021

Planning to travel this fall? If you haven’t been on a plane in a while, you may notice that the experience is a bit different than it was even a couple of months ago. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind before you hit the skies:

  1. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recently extended the face mask requirement for travelers in airports and onboard commercial aircraft within the U.S. through January 18, 2022.
  2. Not every airline allows every kind of face mask. Finnair, Air France and Lufthansa have all prohibited cloth masks and have mandated the use of medical masks. United Airlines has banned bandanas, and clarifies that a face shield alone is not adequate protection. Delta Airlines also prohibits bandanas, in addition to scarves or masks with exhaust valves, slits or holes. Similarly, American Airlines has banned balaclavas, bandanas, exhaust valves, scarves, and gaiters.
  3. TSA now allows one liquid hand sanitizer container up to 12 ounces per passenger in carry-on bags until further notice. The sanitizers may need to be screened separately, so plan accordingly to allow some extra time for your screening experience.
  4. Airport restaurants and domestic lounges have gradually begun to re-open this summer. Some of these lounges have moved away from offerings like buffets and now only offer table service and digital magazine subscriptions to reduce traveler interaction with staff. Many international airline lounges are still closed due to continued restrictions on international travel due to the pandemic. Read on for Travel Weekly’s compilation of which lounges are open throughout the country.
  5. Lines may be longer than normal as travelers return to the skies, so be patient and arrive early! Flight frequency is down as airlines attempt to stay cost efficient while also keeping up with demand, there is a nation-wide employee shortage in many industries (including TSA and most airlines) and there are new rules and regulations in place as the nation continues to manage travel through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Be sure to be prepared before your next trip, following all of the necessary rules and requirements to keep you as safe and efficient as possible!