As more countries mull lifting Covid-19 lockdowns, airlines are examining how social distancing can be factored in while flying. Most airlines are trying to come up with measures that can instill confidence among the travellers. From airport practices to cabin layouts, things may look very different once we start traveling again.
Here’s what some airlines in the United States are up to
In a first for the US carriers, the JetBlue Airways Corp. will require customers to wear face coverings during travel. Under the new policy starting May 4, passengers will have to cover their nose and mouth throughout their trip, JetBlue said in a statement Monday. That includes when they check-in, board the plane, fly and exit the aircraft. The New York-based carrier is also asking customers to follow the same rule in airport terminals. Small children are exempt from the face-covering rule on JetBlue flights.
This was the first US carrier to make masks mandatory for flight attendants. The carrier has also modified in-flight service to minimize touchpoints and has moved primarily to pre-packaged foods and sealed beverages, CNN reported. The airline is also implementing changes to boarding and seat assignments to promote social distancing through at least May 31, the report further added.
Delta Air Lines
Delta Air Lines began blocking middle seats in its aircraft cabins, except in first-class, earlier this month, with the changes extending through June 30. Delta also now boards 10 passengers at a time by their seat row starting from the aircraft’s rear. It has also decided to reduce the number of customers on each flight. In a memo issued to its employees, the carrier has made it mandatory for its employees to wear masks or face coverings when unable to maintain the six-foot social distancing rule.
Gate agents at American Airlines Group Inc. may reassign seats to create more space, and flight attendants are letting passengers move to other seats when possible. The airlines has also turned off some computers and kiosks at ticket counters to her encourage social distancing. Masks will be required for flight attendants during every mainline and regional flight beginning May 1. In addition, the airline has added a drawer in the galley on every mainline flight containing personal protective equipment, including masks for flight attendants and pilots, and other sanitizing items. It also said that it will start the process of distributing sanitizing wipes or gels and face masks to customers in May.
In line with the Canadian government’s mandate, all passengers on Air Canada will have to wear non-medical face mask or face covering over their nose and mouth. It has adjusted its boarding procedures and is reseating customers to enable social distancing. Where adequate spacing isn’t possible, passengers can choose to take a later flight at no additional cost.
Some foodservice has been suspended or shifted to pre-packaged fare and bar service and pillows and blankets are no longer available on some flights.
In addition to the above-mentioned flights, Malaysia Airlines has required all passengers (excluding infants) to wear face masks, while KoreanAir is providing cabin crew with protective clothing, including goggles, masks, and gloves.
In India, there is no clarity on when the flights will begin again, but the airlines have started taking bookings for as early as May 16
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