DENVER — Coronavirus cases are surging in Colorado and across the country, and public health officials are urging people to avoid large gatherings heading into the holiday season.
Still, airport travel for Thanksgiving is expected to see an uptick over the next week, even though there will be a large dropoff from usual traffic numbers.
If you are flying out of Denver for the holidays — and especially if this is your first time flying amid the pandemic — here are seven things to know:
• Mask up. This is an obvious one but worth repeating: Face coverings are required in all public spaces at Denver International Airport and on board all major airlines. If you forget your mask, you can purchase one at a concession area or vending machine in the airport.
• Some parking lots are closed. The airport's shuttle parking lots — Pikes Peak and Mt. Elbert — the East Economy lot and valet parking in both garages are all closed. All other public lots are open, including West Economy, the east and west garages and short-term parking.
• What to expect at security. All DIA security checkpoints are operating normally, though the lanes have been reconfigured to accommodate social distancing. Security agents could ask travelers to remove their mask while checking their identity. Agents are allowing one liquid hand sanitizer, up to 12 ounces, in carry-on bags, a change from normal security protocol.
• Grabbing a bite to eat. You can now order food for delivery inside the airport through the At Your Gate app. Seven concessions in the airport are participating in the program, which is designed to reduce contact between customers and concession workers. Delivery through At Your Gate should take 30 minutes or less, according to the airport.
• Looking for extra precautions? You can sign up for the airport's free VeriFly program, a reservation-based program that allows passengers to go through a dedicated security screening lane and ride a limited-capacity train to the terminals. The program requires passengers to fill out a health screening about 24 hours before their flight. They'll get a reserved 15-minute window to arrive at their security checkpoint and then get to ride a designated train to the terminal.
Go here to learn more about VeriFly and how to sign up for the program.
• About those trains to the terminal. Packing onto a crowded train might sound daunting amid a pandemic. The airport recommends waiting for a less-crowded train, keeping in mind that airport crowds, even during Thanksgiving week, will be about 36% less than a normal year. Also, for anyone flying out of an A gate, the airport recommends walking across the A-Bridge on Level 6, if possible, to avoid the train completely.
The train rides to the terminals are about 2-3 minutes long, less than the CDC guidelines for exposure to others who are in masks.
• Remember, construction is still ongoing. In addition to COVID-19 protocols to know, passengers should also keep the current Great Hall construction project in mind. The project has closed two lanes and the sidewalk in certain areas of Level 6 passenger drop-off, though the sidewalk will be open during the weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas.