The Star-Herald

PQI ‘Ready-to-Fly’

The safety of all passengers and staff remains our top priority here at Presque Isle International Airport (PQI). We continue to follow the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control related to sanitizing high-touch, high-traffic areas.  

On an ongoing basis we are evaluating what best practices other airports are implementing across the country to slow or stop the spread of COVID-19.  The overall effort to implement the best-of-the-best is dubbed “PQI Ready-to-Fly.”

The best practices to improve health and safety start before you get to the airport.  First, begin your next trip here in Presque Isle.  This will allow you to avoid areas of the state with much higher rates of COVID-19.  To date Aroostook County has had less than 40 cases.  

Starting Oct. 1, United Airlines offers more choices with non-stop service to not only Washington, D.C., but to the New York metro area.  Passengers should plan to arrive at the airport at least one hour and 15 minutes before departure if checking bags, or one hour before departure if you have a carry-on.  This reduces crowds gathering in the ticket counter area and helps maintain social distancing requirements.  

If at all possible, travelers should use carry-on luggage and mobile boarding passes to limit touchpoints.  We recommend checking in online prior to arriving at the airport.  Installing the United App for your smartphone will allow you to check in prior to arriving at the airport and you can use the mobile boarding pass feature as well.  You will notice a new “Ready-to-fly” checklist the next time you check in for your flight. It’s an easy self-assessment tool and it’s one of the many ways United is putting your health and safety at the forefront of travel.  

At the airport, you will notice significant changes to make things as safe as possible.  As of July 24, face coverings are required for all passengers and guests.  Face coverings must be worn while in the airport passenger terminal in any capacity.  If you don’t have a mask when you arrive, don’t worry — stop by and pick up one of our complementary passenger care kits at the United Airlines ticket counter.  In addition, PQI has expanded cleaning, using cutting-edge disinfection applications such as electrostatic sprayers and products on surfaces, hand rails and adding more hand sanitizers throughout the airport.  Plastic or acrylic shields have been installed in key high-traffic areas, including ticket counters, TSA security checkpoints and boarding gates.  Ground markings and signs are in place to give guidance on six-foot distancing at ticket counters, boarding gates, concessions counters and screening lines.  Seating has been reduced, blocked off or spaced apart in places like gate areas, dining areas and main terminal greeting sections to promote distancing.

Efforts to keep you safe don’t stop when you leave the ground.  With state-of-the-art cleaning procedures in place, you can feel confident that your travel experience is as safe as can be. Learn more about the CleanPlus program at www.united.com/cleanplus. Did you know that a recent Harvard study showed that the air quality on board airplanes is actually much better than the public perceives?  To learn more about that study and keep up to date with the latest efforts to keep you safe, follow United on Twitter. 

Washington Dulles International Airport is also ready to welcome passengers back. For those who haven’t heard, United will provide non-stop flights to Washington Dulles long-term.  You can now book flights to Dulles almost an entire year in advance.  Learn more about Washington Dulles’ enhanced cleaning procedures designed to keep you safe while you travel by visiting www.flydulles.com.

For those customers who loved the non-stop service to the New York City metro area via Newark, that’s coming back Oct. 1 as well.  Remember, Gov. Mills has exempted the states of New York and New Jersey from the 14-day quarantine, recognizing the great strides that both these states have made in getting COVID-19 under control.  

We all have heard reported in the news that real estate in our region is booming.  This is driven in part by COVID-19.  With non-stop service to Washington, D.C., and the New York metro area, the airport should be able to better support these new residents of our region.  These new non-stop flight options will enable some of them to easily commute to their positions in the New York and Washington, D.C., metro areas.  

Scott Wardwell is airport director for Presque Isle International Airport. He can be reached at 764-2550 or via email at scottw@flypresqueisle.com.

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