In what could be the most significant relaxation on domestic flight services since its resumption on May 25, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has allowed airlines to serve on-board meals and issued guidelines for in-flight entertainment. However, these are subject to a set of procedures that the airlines will need to follow.
Why were airlines not offering meals on board so far?
According to the standard operating procedures issued by the Civil Aviation Ministry for resumption of domestic flights on May 25, airlines were not allowed to serve meals on board. Passengers, too, were not allowed to consume any eatables inside the aircraft during the flight, except on health grounds. However, airlines were allowed to provide water bottles to their passengers.
What are the conditions for onboard meals?
Airlines have now been allowed to serve pre-packed snacks, meals, or pre-packed beverages as per their policy depending on the duration of flight. In all classes, airlines are allowed to use completely disposable tray set-up, plates and cutlery. They have been specifically asked not to re-use the service utensils and cutlery even after cleaning or disinfecting them. Even tea, coffee, and non-alcoholic beverages are to be served in disposable cans, containers, bottles or glasses. There will be no pouring service and beverages will have to be served in single-use disposable units. The crew will need to wear a fresh set of gloves for every meal or beverage service.
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Has in-flight entertainment also been allowed?
Yes, the government has said that in-flight entertainment (IFE), wherever available, may be switched on, subject to strict compliance of the guidelines. The airlines will need to wipe down individual IFE units with approved cleaning agents and all the units will be cleaned and disinfected prior to boarding of passengers. Disposable earphones or cleaned and disinfected headphones will be provided to the passengers at the start of the journey.
Which are the airlines that offer these services?
While almost all domestic airlines offer onboard meals — IndiGo, SpiceJet, AirAsia India and GoAir offer chargeable meal services, Vistara and Air India are full-service carriers offering meals on most of their fare options — in-flight entertainment is offered by Vistara and Air India on some of their aircraft.
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