In yet another nod to the battle against COVID-19, travelers passing through Los Angeles International Airport can now buy masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and digital thermometers at vending machines in most terminals.
The airport collaborated with travel retailer Hudson Group and PepsiCo Beverages North America to install the machines in pre-security areas on the departures level inside Terminals 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 and the Tom Bradley International Terminal.
The eight vending units offer a touch-free payment option that accommodates tap-to-pay credit card or mobile-payment platforms, including Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay. Each machine has an anti-microbial shield installed on hard surfaces.
Justin Erbacci, the airport’s chief executive officer, said the machines are part of the airport’s protocols to keep passengers safe though “rigorous cleanings, new technology and an increasingly touch-free experience from curb to gate.” It also helps travelers comply with LAX’s mandatory facial-covering policy.
Some of the prices include:
- Two pack of disposable face masks – $4.50
- Ten pack of nitrile gloves – $7.99
- Single N95 mask – $6.99
- Three-pack of N95 masks – $19.99
- Two-ounce container of hand sanitizer – $3.99
- Four-ounce container of hand sanitizer – $6.99
- Digital thermometer – $9.99
- UVC phone-sanitizing light – $50
The vending machines are restocked on a daily basis, and many of the products also are available at other retail locations beyond the security checkpoints.
LAX has implemented a number of other safeguards to provide passengers and employees from the further spread of COVID-19.
Everyone inside public areas of terminals, on ground transportation and in office buildings must wear face coverings, and hundreds of hand sanitizer stations have been installed throughout the airport. Physical-distance floor markings are likewise being added to some passenger areas to ensure appropriate spacing between travelers.
California reported 5,295 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, Aug. 5, bringing the state’s total to 524,722 with 9,703 fatalities.
LAX isn’t the first airport to offer a self-serve option for buying personal protective equipment. McCarren International Airport in Las Vegas began stocking vending machines with face masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and wipes in early May and other airports are expected to follow suit.
Air traffic tailspin
Air traffic has fallen dramatically amid the COVID-19 pandemic as wary leisure travelers postpone vacations and family gatherings and businesses pull back on conventions, trade shows and on-site meetings.
Passenger traffic at LAX saw its deepest year-over-year decline of 96% in April, falling to less than 300,000 compared with 7.2 million a year earlier. Year-to-date travel through June was off by 59%.
“We’ve seen slow but steady growth over last three months, but we’re nowhere near where we were a year ago,” airport spokesman Heath Montgomery said. “People are starting to return to flying … but at a very slow pace.”
A June report from the International Air Transport Association says consumers are still reluctant to travel.
“While business confidence is still an important driver, near-term travel demand will depend (in part) on consumer sentiment which has been subdued,” the association said. “According to the latest passenger survey conducted in June, the majority (55%) of respondents don’t plan to travel in 2020.”