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3 Airport Tips From A Federal Law Enforcement Officer

Danessa, a Staten Island native, is a Federal Law Enforcement Officer who has been working at the John F. Kennedy Airport for 6 years. The John F. Kennedy Airport is located 16 miles southeast of Midtown Manhattan and is the busiest international air passenger gateway into North America.

The pandemic has changed traveling in so many ways and has caused anxiety in a lot of people to where they refuse to travel until the pandemic is completely over. There has been noticeable changes in airports across the globe including JFK airport in New York City.

We spoke with the Travel Blogging Federal Law Enforcement Officer Danessa (@navigatewithness) to get some insight on how airports have changed since the pandemic came about and what her experience is like working at JFK Airport.

Urban Flight Collective: What is the biggest difference between how the airport used to be vs now?

Danessa: The biggest difference I have noticed (apart from everyone now being required to wear masks) are the flight loads themselves as well as the requirements and protocols that are necessary to travel. Pre-COVID, our airport was processing tens of thousands of passengers a day. At the peak of COVID it seemed as if the airport was a ghost town. There were some days where we would see no flights at all, and if any there were very few passengers on board who were all US Citizens trying to return home before border shutdowns. Currently, more people have become more comfortable with flying so flight loads have picked right back up again. This is in part due to COVID vaccines, and for some, they’re simply tired of being held back.

In addition, overall cleanliness amongst passengers and airport staff has definitely been noticeable. I’ve always been a clean freak, but I notice that more employees are cleaning their work stations more frequently as well as taking several safety measures to ensure their health and safety, as well as the health and safety of the traveling public.

As a whole, COVID affected our airport in more ways than one, but through the struggle it built a stronger camaraderie amongst officers, and a greater level of compliance and respect amongst passengers.

Urban Flight Collective: What are some tips you can give travelers for traveling during the pandemic?

Danessa: Tip #1: ARRIVE TO THE AIRPORT EARLY! I can’t stress this enough, especially when it comes to international flights. Pre-COVID you were able to check in for your flight prior to arriving to the airport with no problem. Now, depending on the airline you are only able to complete a portion of your check-in process online. Most airlines require you to show proof of testing, vaccination, and for some countries a health questionnaire. You want to make sure you give yourself enough time to complete all of this and be able to make it to your flight on time. Everyone is traveling these days so there really is no way to gauge wait times. You don’t want to be the last person

Tip #2: Especially now, always confirm the entry requirements for your destination of choice. If COVID testing is required, be sure to check the testing time frame for your specific destination. Typically they cam be 72hrs, 48hrs, or for some countries 24hrs prior to departure. Keep in mind that in order to return to the United States from any international destination you will be required to take a COVID test 24hrs prior to departure. In addition, verify whether your destination requires an Antigen test or a PCR test. Also, be sure to complete any required health forms or authorizations in the specified time. You don’t want to complete it too early, or too late and be denied entry.

Tip #3: Always carry extra masks and necessary cleaning supplies. Although many borders are open to travel, COVID is still very much out there and real. You want to make sure you protect yourself and those around you at all costs. Some cleaning supplies that have become travel necessities are: hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, Lysol spray, saline nasal mist, and a first aid kit.

Urban Flight Collective: What has been the most stressful part of your job during the pandemic?

Danessa: The most stressful part of my job during the pandemic has been ensuring the overall health and safety of not only myself, but my fellow coworkers, and the traveling public. At the beginning of COVID there were not many testing protocols in place so you truly never knew if the person standing in front of you was positive or not. This in itself was extremely stressful because it left you in the unknown. Now that more safety measures have been put into place both officers and passengers are able to feel a sense of ease.

Urban Flight Collective: How do you cope with the stress?

Danessa: If Im being totally honest, when I sense my stress level starting to grow I know its time to go! I’m quick to book a flight somewhere, or simply take a drive to get away from the hustle and bustle of not only work, but every day life. I enjoy the stillness and freedom of solo traveling and it always seems to refresh and rejuvenate me. Before I even do that I take a moment to just be still. During these times I simply close my eyes for a moment and pray for peace, stillness, and a sound mind, and sound heart.

Danessa can be found on Instagram @navigatewithness where you can see the places she goes and travel tips she provides when she's not working as a Federal Law Enforcement Officer.

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