A Look at Philadelphia and Miami’s International Airports

Temple Update's Monica Logroño travels from Philadelphia to Miami to show you how the flight and both airports have adjusted amid the pandemic.


With many expected precautions like social distancing and requiring face coverings, traveling looks completely different in 2020. As anticipated, the Philadelphia International Airport was practically a ghost town. When you first arrive at P-H-L, face coverings are required in the airport and on most flights. Curbside bag checks are also no longer available for American Airlines. However, inside you can still use the kiosks and go up to the counter to drop off your bags or talk to an employee.

At the security checkpoints there are social distance stickers on the floor advising you to stay six feet apart. When you approach the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer, they may instruct you to lower your mask to check your identification. When I lowered my mask, the officer almost immediately verified my I.D. and I raised my mask again.

In addition to the possibility of lowering your mask for verification, TSA has made the following changes* to airport travel:

  • Wear a face covering during the screening process
    • You may be asked to adjust your mask for ID verification or to remove it for secondary screening
  • TSA Officers are required to wear face coverings and gloves
    • They are also instructed to change their gloves following each pat-down and upon passenger request
  • Phased installation of plastic shielding at points of interaction
  • One liquid hand sanitizer of up to 12 ounces per passenger in carry-on bags
    • Containers larger than 3.4 ounces will need to be screened separately
  • Remove belts and all personal items from your pockets before you enter the checkpoint and place them in your carry-on bag
    • Does not apply to TSA PreCheck Members

Once inside Terminal C, I noticed there were very few employees around. In fact, I only saw a security guard next to the information desk which now has a sign saying to call (215)-937-7956 for assistance.

Many non-essential shops are currently closed like the Flyers store, White House Black Market and Soma. Any stores that offer food, drinks and travel essentials are open with new restrictions. For example, food ordered from restaurants or bars can only be served to-go in compliance with the state’s regulations.

P-H-L has made the following changes** to their operations:

  • Face coverings required
  • Separating food court tables
  • Installing hand sanitizing stations in each food court
  • Cleaning food court tables and chairs when they’re done being used
  • Requiring crew members to wash hands frequently, use gloves, maintain social distance and stay home if sick

In addition to these changes, the airport also has reminders to maintain social distance throughout the airport.

Some clubs and lounges are open with new changes like the American Airlines Admirals Club. Not all the Admirals Club are open and some have variations in their rules. In all P-H-L clubs and lounges, you may go up to the bar to get drinks but the food is no longer self-serve. Upon entering, you are given a bag with various snacks and a disinfectant wipe.

According to the supervisor, they aren’t letting anyone in the lounge without a mask on. If the members refuse to put a mask on, they are given a to go bag and asked to leave.

The supervisor also said many of their employees feel comfortable and safe coming to work because the majority of people have been following their new precautions.

While waiting to board, I saw little to no social distancing but the majority of people were wearing masks.

Once inside the plane, I noticed that near the back, where the tickets were cheaper, almost every seat was filled. While toward the front of the plane, as tickets got more expensive, there was more room.

As we got ready to fly, American Airline’s policy was clear, “While it is acceptable to remove face coverings when eating or drinking, you must wear your mask coverings at all times during this flight. If you are unwilling to follow the requirement, you may not be allowed to fly with us in the future,” one of the flight attendants said.

Once I landed in Miami International Airport, I saw more people and less social distancing. However, the majority of people were wearing masks.

According to their website, the airport has made the following changes***:

  • Facial coverings and social distance are required
  • To minimize foot-traffic, Concourses E, F and G are temporarily closed
  • Some shops and restaurants have new modified hours or have temporarily closed, for the full list click here
  • Dining locations and airline lounges are restricted to 50% capacity
  • Per Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ executive order, the Department of Health is asking each passenger on a direct flight from Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York a series of travel questions and requesting that they self-quarantine for 14 days

*These changes were updated on the Transportation Security Administration’s website July 27, 2020

**These changes were found on Philadelphia International Airport’s website July 27, 2020

***These changes were made by Miami International Airport May 26, 2020

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