By DoD News
By Tyrphena Mayhugh*
Every Air Force wing, squadron and unit has felt the effects of COVID-19 in one form or another. Airmen assigned to the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron operating out of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport’s Air Mobility Command passenger terminal have implemented new procedures to ensure the safety of their workers and the passengers who are traveling during the pandemic.
All passengers traveling through any AMC terminal are now required to be medically screened before being allowed to fly. To fulfill the new screening requirements, the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron unit operating out of the airport requested assistance from fellow airmen located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, Washington.
”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 Air Force Master Sgt. Richard House, the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron contracting officer’s representative. ”The secretary of defense’s stop-movement [order] 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. Passengers with a fever of 100.4 F or higher or who have been working at a medical facility, must be cleared by an on-site flight surgeon with the 62nd Medical Squadron before traveling.
”If a passenger is deemed unable to fly, we politely decline their travel, and it’s usually a 14-day wait,” said Air Force Airman 1st Class Nicole Mourik, a passenger service agent with the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron. ”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 the airport has remained the same, but the amount of passengers has decreased by 50% to 75%. Despite this drop, the airmen who work there still have quite a large workload, House said.
”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, all passengers traveling through the terminal must wear face masks, otherwise they will not be allowed to fly.
”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 Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and has travel-related questions can call the 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.
*Air Force Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh is assigned to the 62nd Airlift Wing.