Every single wing, squadron and unit in the U.S. Air Force has felt the effects of COVID-19 in one form or another. Airmen assigned to the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron (APS) unit operating out of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SeaTac) Air Mobility Command (AMC) Passenger Terminal have implemented a new procedure to ensure the safety of their workers and the passengers who are required to travel during the pandemic.
All passengers traveling through any AMC terminal are now required to be medically screened before being allowed to fly. To fulfill this new requirement, the 62nd APS unit operating out of SeaTac requested assistance from their fellow 62nd APS Airmen located at McChord Field for support with screenings.
“For the first time in AMC history, we started conducting enhanced medical screening in partnership with the 62nd Medical Squadron with hopes of preventing the spread of this horrible virus while still enabling the Department of Defense’s mission to continue throughout U.S. Indo-Pacific Command,” said Master Sgt. Richard House, 62nd APS contracting officer’s representative. “The Secretary of Defense’s stop movement has dramatically reduced the number of passengers we receive and send, so that has to play a role in reducing the spread.”
Before passengers can check in for their flight, they must fill out a medical questionnaire and have their temperature checked to make sure they are healthy enough to travel. A flight surgeon from the 62nd MDS is on site to make a determination on whether or not a passenger can travel for passengers who have a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, or have been working in a medical facility.
“If a passenger is deemed unable to fly, we politely decline their travel and it’s usually a 14-day wait,” said Airman 1st Class Nicole Mourik, 62nd APS passenger service agent. “We have had a couple people we had to turn down because they were coughing or sick and the flight surgeon delayed them.”
The number of AMC flights that depart from SeaTac have remained the same, but the amount of passengers has decreased by 50 to 75 percent depending on the day. Despite this drop, the 62nd APS Airmen who work there still have a quite a large workload.
“Due to ever-changing travel guidance and restrictions intended to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the amount of customer phone calls our passenger service agents are receiving is at an unprecedented level,” House said. “Ensuring accurate travel information to our service members and their families requires constant coordination and teamwork between our team and all service components.”
In addition to the screenings, another restriction put in place because of COVID-19 is that all passengers traveling through the terminal must wear a face covering, otherwise they will not be allowed to fly. These precautions seem to be having a positive effect against the spread of the virus.
“Our team has screened 23 missions consisting of 1,121 passengers with no cases of COVID-19 traced back to our location,” House said. “The job they are doing is outstanding. To learn such a novel process and implement it in such a minimal amount of time is to be lauded. Their positive attitude, professionalism, and eagerness to help us accomplish our mission at SeaTac can’t be more appreciated.”
Anyone who is preparing to fly out of SeaTac and has travel-related questions can call the SeaTac AMC Passenger Terminal customer service number at (253) 982-3504 or monitor their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SeaTacAmcPassengerTerminal/ to stay current with travel restrictions related to this location.