How reluctant are people to fly right now? Well, the Port of Seattle just released some passenger stats, and butts in seats are at their lowest level since 1967—a drop of 93.4% from last year.
For comparison: About 8,000 people are traveling every day through Sea-Tac Airport right now, while in 2019, it was 53,000 people per day. Still, those numbers are about double what they were at their lowest point in April, and Sea-Tac officials are implementing a whole bunch of changes as air travel gradually becomes a part of our lives again—or at least, in preparation for the time when it does.
Next time you have to get on a plane—which hopefully won't be for a while, given the state of things—things won't quite be like they were. The most visible shift will be mandatory face coverings throughout all public areas of the airport. For workers, for passengers, for everybody. Everyone will need to have their faces covered. (Looking forward to how that's going to work at security-theater checkpoints!)
They're also installing hundreds of new hand sanitizer stations, cleaning more frequently, and limiting elevator rides to four people at a time. Trains will be limited to ten people per car (oof), and escalators will—somehow—enforce an "only use every fourth step" rule. And get ready for temperature checks along with those scanners that know what you look like naked.
When it comes to social distancing, airports are in kind of a nightmare scenario. The whole industry is built around squeezing as many people as possible into the tightest possible spaces. And while the four-per-elevator rule will probably work out fine for now, at a time when ridership is at its lowest level since Valley of the Dolls was in theaters, it's anyone's guess how that'll work as ridership picks back up.
If you were content not to be thinking about the stress of air travel for the last few weeks, don't worry—Sea-Tac is also engaged in some far more pleasant work right now: They're building a new river park to provide home to endangered salmon. After a ten-year cleanup of the Terminal 117 area, what is now a paved-over area across the Duwamish Waterway will soon get new estuarine habitat, which helps salmon transition from freshwater to saltwater when they're heading out to sea.
So if you're looking for a pleasant, comfortable experience when departing Seattle for some far-off destination, considering being a salmon.