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CHRISTOPHER MUTHER

Logan named safest airport in the country, but study finds US airlines lagging behind international carriers

Safe Travel Barometer pulled together a series of lists that looks at COVID-19 safety protocols across 10 different industries. Here are the results from the airline study.

Medical assistant Aneka Gopaulsingh holds a swab after testing Julian Bernstein at the new XpresCheck COVID-19 testing facility at Boston Logan International Airport on Oct. 28. The testing site is open for airport and airline employees, and will open to passengers and the general public in mid-November.
Medical assistant Aneka Gopaulsingh holds a swab after testing Julian Bernstein at the new XpresCheck COVID-19 testing facility at Boston Logan International Airport on Oct. 28. The testing site is open for airport and airline employees, and will open to passengers and the general public in mid-November.Elise Amendola/Associated Press

As you may have heard from many, many, many sources this fall, holiday travel is not recommended. If it’s fun, the rule of thumb for 2020 is that it’s not allowed. Therefore, you’ve been asked to politely tuck away your dreams of family gatherings, much the way you would tuck away stuffing in a turkey. A turkey that you should not be consuming with a large group.

That said, please don’t take the information I’m about to impart as an endorsement of travel. It isn’t. But if you are still planning to visit loved ones, a website called the Safe Travel Barometer (safetravelbarometer.com) has pulled together a series of tidy lists that looks at COVID-19 safety protocols across 10 different industries, ranging from airlines to amusement parks, and then offers scores based on the precautions being taken at each. Those precautions include (but are by no means limited to) the availability of hand sanitizer, issuing of free masks, frequency of cleaning, thermal screenings, and all of the other things that have made this year about as fun as watching an army of gypsy moth caterpillars strip the leaves from the trees in your front yard.

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First the bad news. Honestly, after that cheery intro did you think I would start with good news? The Safe Travel Barometer found that North American airlines are not up to snuff with their international aviation compatriots. The only US airline to wind up in the top 10 of COVID-19 safety protocols was Delta (Emirates snagged the top score internationally). Going down the list, the only other US airline in the top 20 was Southwest Airlines. Keep scrolling, and eventually you’ll find Alaska Air at 35 and United at 38.

If you’re not keen to do all that scrolling, then the Safe Travel Barometer allows you to group airlines by country. Delta is tops in North America, and — no surprise here — Spirit Airlines lands with a thud at the bottom of the list. The top barometer score an airline can receive is a 5.

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In this July 22, 2020, photo, a ticketing agent for Delta Airlines hands a boarding pass to a passenger as he checks in for a flight in the main terminal of Denver International Airport in Denver.
In this July 22, 2020, photo, a ticketing agent for Delta Airlines hands a boarding pass to a passenger as he checks in for a flight in the main terminal of Denver International Airport in Denver.David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Here’s the top 10 North American airlines:

Delta Air Lines: 4.1

Air Canada: 4.0

Southwest Airlines: 4.0

Alaska Airlines: 3.9

United Airlines: 3.9

Air North (Canada): 3.8

Allegiant Air: 3.8

American Airlines: 3.8

Air Transat (Canada): 3.7

WestJet (Canada): 3.6

Now for some good news. (I know, I can barely believe I’m using the words “good" and “news” in the same sentence.) Among North American airports, Logan tops the list on safety. Technically it’s in a tie with JFK and Newark, but the folks at the Safe Travel Barometer have announced that it’s tops, so we’ll go with that. What makes it so great, you ask? According to the site, criteria includes contactless baggage drop, a requirement that travelers wear face masks, and contactless check-in kiosks. All three airports received a safe travel score of 4.3 out of 5.

Here’s the top 10 North American airports:

Logan: 4.3

JFK: 4.3

Newark Liberty: 4.3

Calgary International: 4.2

Atlanta International: 4.2

Los Angeles International: 4.2

O’Hare: 4.2

Philadelphia International: 4.2

San Francisco International: 4.2

Dallas/Fort Worth International: 4.1


Christopher Muther can be reached at christopher.muther@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Chris_Muther.