LAX launches PPE vending machine program, featuring gloves, sanitizer and N95s

By Dev Jaiswal

A traditional vending machine has been transformed to dispense face masks, gloves and hand sanitizer

Next time you go to the airport and see a vending machine, you might walk up to it thinking it will hold your heart’s (or stomach’s) desire for salty snacks or chocolate chip cookies.

Unfortunately, in the age of COVID-19, you would be incorrect. In airports around the country, including our very own LAX, new vending machines are being installed to offer items designed not to let food particles into your mouth, but to keep coronavirus from coming out. In other words, potato chips are out and PPE is in!

“We think that it’s certainly an additional benefit and a convenience for people to have access to that type of personal protective equipment in the airport before they go through security,” said Heath Montgomery, Director of Public Relations at Los Angeles World Airports.

The machines will be outfitted with one-time use masks, cloth masks and N95 masks in addition to hand sanitizer and gloves. The machines will be restocked daily, supplies provided by Hudson Group and PepsiCo. Many additional safety measures are in place or are being tested at the airport as well. Hundreds of Plexiglass barriers have been installed, bathrooms have been retrofitted to include hands-free faucets, and TSA officers will no longer handle passenger documents directly.

“We’re really trying to make it a touch-free experience,” Montgomery said.

Some airport restaurants are available for mobile ordering and grab-and-go pickup, but many are still closed due to low passenger numbers. Montgomery said that LAX traffic is down about 80% compared to last year. Face coverings are required at LAX and many other airports. Many airlines also require face coverings to be worn in-flight. Stickers and signs to remind travelers of social distancing measures have also been installed.

Montgomery advises travelers to be prepared when they arrive at the airport.

“Definitely check with your airline to know and understand their policies before you leave. If you can, check in before you leave on a mobile device or your home computer… print out your boarding passes ahead of time. Have a digital version. The more you can do at home before you leave, the better. It will not only speed things up — it’ll prevent the number of times you have to interact with people and touch things.”

COVID-19 places a lot of responsibility on all of us to take care of each other. But at least if you forget your mask in your preparations, LAX has your back. Or your mouth, rather.