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Albany International Airport resumes pre-pandemic service, warns travellers of new COVID guidelines

Airport Security 2
Ashley Hupfl
TSA checkpoint at Albany International

As the holiday season approaches and the U.S. reopens its borders to tourists, aviation officials are warning travelers of a “new normal.”

People still need to wear face masks in airports and on planes due to a federal mandate, though they will be asked to remove their mask briefly at Transportation Security Administration checkpoints to check their identity. The TSA is allowing travelers to bring one 12-ounce container of liquid hand sanitizer per passenger in carry-on bags.

Albany International Airport Authority CEO Philip Calderone says passenger numbers are back to about 80 to 90 percent of pre-pandemic levels. The economy parking lot will reopen Monday and nearly all concessions are back open after about half closed during the pandemic.

Calderone says the airport has been preparing for more international travelers.

“We will probably see a significant increase in the amount of travel because we're an airport that, while we're primarily domestic travel, we do have a lot of folks who will be transferring from international flights in going through this airport," Calderone said.

International travelers must show proof of a COVID vaccine and proof of a negative test taken one to three days before their departure. The U.S. is not allowing unvaccinated international travelers.

Unvaccinated domestic travelers must show proof of a negative test taken one day before departure. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends travelers get tested for COVID three to five days after travel and stay home and self-quarantine for a week after their return.

TSA officers will be wearing masks and gloves and many will be behind acrylic barriers to reduce potential contamination. Upstate New York TSA Federal Security Director Bart Johnson says travelers will now be asked to scan their own boarding pass to reduce contact, and officers will change gloves between each pat-down and bag search.

In short: leave extra time this year.

“But, what isn't spoken about enough is the high peak throughputs of the morning and certain times in the afternoon where here in Albany we've been at 130 percent of 2019," Johnson said. "So, what that means is it's very, very busy. So, be aware of that. Plan for that. Get the message out to the public, so they can arrive at the airport a full two hours before their flight is expected to leave.”

The TSA has set up a hotline for travelers with questions: 855-787-2227.