The travel industry has been one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, with airlines forced to ground for months on end around the world due to government-enforced “stay at home” orders. Now, as lockdown restrictions begin to ease globally, airlines are finding new ways to ensure passengers and crew stay safe when flying.
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Here is a list of some major world airlines and the changes they are putting in place to protect against COVID-19:
British Airways has announced plans for a “meaningful return to service” in July and has set out some new changes it will put in place to boost hygiene on board.
Face masks will be mandatory on all aircraft for passengers and crew, with passengers being encouraged to change them every four hours.
Aircraft interiors, specifically hard surfaces in cabins and lavatories, will be thoroughly cleaned using disinfectant fluids after every flight.
HEPA filters will work to remove particulate and bacterial contamination and provide clean air to passengers.
These filters are reported to offer the same air cleanliness levels as those in hospital theatres.
The airline has also listed some changes to its onboard food service.
Though light refreshments and some drinks will be offered – including bottled water and hot drinks on request – passengers with allergies or dietary requirements will not be catered for.
On short-haul flights, food and drink will no longer be available for purchase.
easyJet is set to resume flights in mid-June domestically, before ramping up it’s European offering throughout July and August. Passengers and crew will be required to wear face masks at all times, and all flights will be equipped with spare sanitary equipment including masks, gloves and hand sanitiser.
Every aircraft will be subject to a daily disinfection process which is reported to protect from viruses for 24 hours. Additionally HEPA air filtration systems will be fitted throughout all aircraft. In the initial months of restarting service, easyJet will not offer food and drink on any of its flights. Similarly, onboard shopping will be suspended.
Prior to boarding, easyJet travellers will scan their own documents and check-in and boarding.
Passengers will be asked to sit at a distance from customers not in their party where possible.
Ryanair is due to return to service from July onwards, and like other airlines has set out new measures to protect its customers and crew.
“Face coverings” will be mandatory throughout each flight.
Passengers are being encouraged to minimise contact by using online and mobile boarding passes, as well as self-service kiosks at airports.
Onboard, a limited food service will see passengers being offered wrapped snacks and cold drinks only. All food payments must be made by card.
Similarly, inflight sales are to be reduced to a limited selection of items with card payments only.
Seatbelt signs will remain on for the duration of the flight, and passengers will have to request permission to use the toilet to prevent queues forming.
The airline says all aircraft will be cleaned and disinfected daily, and all are fitted with HEPA air filtration systems.
Holiday provider TUI has unveiled plans to return to the skies in July, with new safety measures in place. Face masks will be required on all flights, with seats assigned as far apart as possible on low occupancy flights. Boarding will be staggered in small groups, with paperless ticketing. once onboard, food and beverages must be pre-ordered and payments will be cashless. Additionally, all aircraft will be fitted with HEPA filtration systems.
Virgin Atlantic has ensured that all of its aircraft will be cleaned after each flight using a high-grade registered disinfecting product. A rigorous checklist will be implemented for flight cleaning teams, including disinfecting cabin surfaces and customer contact areas like seats, door handles, tray tables, inflight entertainment screens and floors. Aircraft are also fitted with HEPA filtration systems.
Once in the air, there will be just one main meal service, delivered with juices and soft drinks. Orange juice and water will also be available throughout the journey.
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American Airlines has made face masks mandatory on all of its aircraft.
On flights up to 900 miles no snacks, alcohol or food will be served, and juice and water will be served by request only.
Flights between 900 and 2,199 miles will see passengers receive complimentary pretzels or chips upon boarding, and they will be allowed to request juice and water during the flight.
In first-class there will be no snacks or meals, and alcohol will be given on request.
Flights will be cleaned using a hospital-grade disinfectant, with major focus drawn to tray tables, seatbelt buckles, armrests, window shades, seatback screens, doors and overhead bin handles.
All aircraft are also fitted with HEPA filters.
Emirates is requesting all passengers to wear face masks and is recommending the use of gloves too.
Passengers will undergo thermal screening at the airport prior to boarding, and Emirates will provide passengers with a complimentary hygiene kit prior to boarding which includes a face mask, gloves, hand gel and wipes.
Passengers will be able to pre-order a limited selection of dietary meals through the airline’s website. Onboard, a single-use menu is being offered in first and business class. In economy class cabin crew will read out the food options.
All onboard shopping has been paused, and magazines and newspapers will no longer be offered.
Pillows and blankets will be available on request for long haul flights and are hygienically wrapped.
Passengers are also requested to bring “minimal” baggage.
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Both passengers and crew will be required to wear face masks while travelling, with the crew also kitted out in protective clothing.
Passengers will be given a “Wellness Kit” upon boarding, which will be filled with face masks, globes and sanitiser.
Hand sanitiser will be provided on all meal trays and in all bathrooms on planes, meanwhile, seat maps have been redesigned to ensure maximum distance between passengers on every flight.
Food will be tested in line with strict COVID-19 guidelines before being served to passengers/
New seat covers have been fitted on all plans, as well as new carpets.
Aircraft will also be deep cleaned upon arrival at their destination, and HEPA filtration systems ensure fresh air is being circulated.
Much like all other airlines, Cathay Pacific is asking passengers to wear face masks in situations where they can not maintain a physical distance of 2 metres. Inflight meals will be prepared in line with health and safety standards. Trolley services in first and business class have been suspended, and meals will be served on a single tray. A snack bag and hot snack service will be available in economy class.
Hot towels, pillows, blankets, magazines and inflight duty-free sales have also been temporarily suspended.
Following every flight, surfaces and fixtures like personal TV screens, meal tables, baby bassinets, and armrests will undergo a strict disinfection process.
Face masks are mandatory for everyone onboard all Delta Airlines flights.
Amenity kits for customers on long-haul, international flights will be dished out and include hand sanitiser and cleaning towelettes. All non-essential items including magazines and glassware have been removed from service.
Good services will change depending on cabin and length of flight – these will be detailed on the airline’s website.
Following every flight, high-grade disinfectant will be used to clean the entire plane with extra focus on high-touch areas.
United Airlines has made face masks mandatory on all flights for crew and passengers. They will also be subject to temperature screening prior to boarding.
Touchless check-in will ensure minimum contact for customers with hold luggage.
Passengers will also be given an “all-in-one” snack bag upon boarding which includes wrapped sanitiser wipe, bottled water, Stroopwafel and packet of pretzels. This replaces the complimentary Economy snack and beverage service on domestic flights scheduled for 2 hours and 20 minutes or more.
United has partnered with disinfectant brand Clorox to ensure high touch areas are cleaned at all times.
All planes are fitted with HEPA filtration systems.
Qatar Airways has made no mention of mandatory face masks for passengers but says all crew and passengers must have a temperature screening before boarding. All aircraft are fitted with HEPA filtration systems and regularly deep cleaned.
The cutlery used onboard will be sanitised and individually wrapped, and the crew will wear gloves for meal services.
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