Many new guidelines have been enacted for both passengers and crews to ensure safety and personal protection requirements over the last two weeks. Point Me has rounded up the latest information into a guide by airline to inform travelers exactly what’s expected on their next flight.
US Domestic Airlines Personal Protection Travel Requirements
All of the carriers have plans for enhanced cleaning and sanitation and several have announced requirements for passengers as well as changes in service and procedures.
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Here’s where some major carriers stand so far on personal protective equipment and social distancing measures:
One of the last to announce, Alaska Airlines and Horizon will require passengers to wear face masks starting May 11. Employees who cannot keep a six foot distance will also be expected to wear protective face masks.
American will require flight attendants to wear masks while it will hand out masks to passengers. Although passengers are not required to wear masks, the airline has signage encouraging their use. It is also expects to provide bottled water and snacks at the gate in the near future.
American has also shut down some self-service kiosks in airports to promote social distancing between customers.
According to the airline’s online posted policies “American will not assign 50% of main cabin middle seats or seats near flight attendant jump seats on every flight, and will only use those middle seats when necessary.”
American Airlines’ airport lounges are seeing suspended services and amenities. These include all food and beverage offerings, restrooms and shower facilities.
Delta Air Lines
The Atlanta-based airline requires all employees to wear masks or face coverings when unable to maintain the CDC recommended six-foot social distancing guideline.
Effective May 4, 2020, Delta Air Lines will require all employees and customers to wear a face masks or ‘appropriate face covering.’
Delta will provide the following customer care conveniences:
All customers on long-haul international flights are provided with amenity kits, which contain hand cleanser or cleansing towelettes
Lavatory Tidy Kits
Pre-packaged lavatory cleaning supplies including gloves, disinfectant wipes, a mini-mop with handle, a trash bag and a device for trash pickup are available to the crew on many international and transcontinental flights.
I’m thinking, shouldn’t they already have lavatory cleaning kits onboard their aircraft; pre-Coronavirus?
Although not requiring passengers to wear masks, Delta says they strongly encourage the practice. Delta will make masks available “at ticket counters, gates and onboard airplanes.”
Delta is leaving the middle seats unassigned plus boarding customers 10 at a time. The airline is also making changes to its food and beverage service to reduce touchpoints between crew and passengers.
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Effective May 4th, JetBlue will become the first major US carrier to require that passengers wear masks. The airline calls this “the new flying etiquette.” It goes on to say “We are also asking our customers to follow these CDC guidelines in the airport as well.”
JetBlue will also be limiting the number of available seats on most flights and will reviews seat assignments to maximize space between passengers.
The carrier has adjusted food and beverage service to minimize touchpoints, with more limited offerings in many fare classes.
JetBlue reminds passengers that it uses hospital grade high-efficiency air particulate (HEPA) filters on its planes. All of the air in the cabin is filtered and recirculated, on average, every three minutes.
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United Airlines as the first major U.S. carrier mandating that all of its flight attendants wear a mask to help protect themselves and customers on board.
The airline adds that beginning in early May, it will make face masks available to customers. United just announced that beginning May 4 (joining Delta’s move) it will require all passengers to wear masks.
To clarify, the airline is not requiring that passengers wear a mask. The airline does remind customers that it encourages travelers follow CDC guidance to wear a face covering when social distancing is difficult.
United Airlines is reducing touchpoints by temporarily shutting down self-service kiosks in most locations. The airline is also asking customers to self-scan their boarding passes at the gate during boarding. United also wants to swap out existing soap and hand towel dispensers for hands-free units.
The airline has also made changes to its in-flight service to reduce further touchpoints and has moved predominantly to pre-packaged foods and sealed beverages.
Canada – Air Canada
The Canadian government has mandated that “all passengers flying through, to or from Canada wear a non-medical face mask or face covering over their nose and mouth.” Air Canada passengers must comply with these requirements.
Air Canada has made changes to its boarding procedures and is re-assigning passenger seats to ensure social distancing. When that’s not possible due to a busier flight, passengers may opt to take a later flight at no additional cost.
Food and beverage services plus many amenities have been adjusted to lessen the risk of viral transmission. Some food service has been suspended or replaced with pre-packaged eats. In addition, bar service, blankets and pillows are no longer available on some flights.
Common for Asia Markets to Require Passenger Masks
Japan Airlines asks cabin crew to wear face masks on international and domestic flights. They will also wear gloves when serving meals and beverages. Wet wipe disinfectant towelettes are handed out to passengers. Magazine service has been suspended since March 28.
No requirement is made of passengers to wear masks at this time.
All aircraft operating international flights are disinfected during the overnight hours in Japan.
Japan Airlines airport lounges will only offer pre-packaged food items to limit viral transmission and cross-contamination.
Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon plan to operate a bare skeleton passenger flight schedule in May and June 2020, reducing passenger loads to just 3% of capacity. The airlines plan to slowly ramp up flights in June.
In keeping with Canada’s mandate, all passengers must be in possession of a face mask, before boarding any flight to Canada. Based out of Hong Kong, most would expect the airline to have stringent personal protection travel requirements for passengers.
Flight crews have been advised to wear face masks since early in the year.
Korean Air requires all passengers to wear masks onboard. It also provides masks and hand sanitizer at airports and on aircraft.
In addition, Korean Air provides cabin crew with protective clothing, including goggles, masks and gloves. Even protective gowns are provided on medium- and long-haul inbound flights.
Since April 23, Malaysia Airlines has required all passengers (excluding infants) to wear face masks. Crew wear masks and gloves and can optionally wear eye protection.
The airline also conducts temperature screenings at the boarding lounge for all passengers. The same is done for crew travelling into and out of China and South Korea. In addition to pre-boarding checks, temperature readings are also taken onboard flights to many destinations.
The airline also boasts that all aircraft are equipped with medical communicable disease kits to treat ill passengers.
Philippines Airlines has outfitted its flight attendants with a designer-crafted PPE suits. Although Philippines Airlines has suspended all scheduled domestic and international flights through April the airline is only operating repatriation flights. However, the airline is showing us what the ‘new normal’ for their flight attendants may look like once they begin commercial flights again.
Although the crew looks ready, there are no currently announced airline personal protection travel requirements of passengers.
AirAsia, also has newly designed PPE uniforms for flight attendants similar to PAL’s. The PAL uniforms were designed by Filipino designer Edwin Tan.
Flight attendants for EVA wear eye protection, face masks and also surgical gloves. EVA provides N95 respirator masks and medical masks on all flights as mandated by the Taiwanese government.
Passengers who travel with EVA (or its subsidiary UNI Air) on international flights are required to submit the “Passenger Health Declaration Form”.
EVA still offers blankets and pillows, on demand, which are cleaned and sanitized after use. Newspaper, magazines and menus are no longer offered. All seats are now preset with only a safety instruction card and a disposable air sickness bag.
China Airlines also requires passengers to wear a face mask. Passengers are subject to temperature checks at the airport. Travelers who refuse to undergo temperature screening are not allowed on board.
China Eastern Airlines
China Eastern does not offer a lot on their website as to information or policies about the coronavirus. There are some posts regarding flight changes and cancellations, but no requirements for crew or passengers when it comes to personal protection. However, we do know that China Eastern does provide branded face masks for their crews.
Some European Carriers Are Requiring Masks
Passengers are required to wear face masks when flying with Lufthansa Group beginning May 4. The group includes Lufthansa, Austrian and Swiss Airlines. Flight attendants will also be required to wear masks. Lufthansa stated that ‘As a result of this new regulation …leaving middle seats vacant will no longer be necessary, as the facial covering provides the necessary protection.”
For now, wearing a face mask remains mandatory until August 31, 2020.
Lufthansa has also closed most of its airport lounges.
Air France says it is committed to social distancing on their aircraft. When that’s not possible, flight attendants will distribute masks at the aircraft door to passengers who do not already have them.
Passengers must wear a mask or the equivalent on flights departing from Paris and for all customers travelling to Canada, Los Angeles and New York.
Air France has provided their crew members with protection supplies. These include cleaning wipes, vinyl gloves, disinfectant sprays, protective masks plus cleaning kits.
Air France had one of their major airports closed – Paris-Orly. The airline also closed their Air France lounges at Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Paris-Orly, in metropolitan France, Europe and worldwide. At the same time, the New York and Chicago lounges will exclusively remain open to customers with an adapted catering offer.
Passengers considering traveling to any of the French Overseas Territories must present a Certificate of International Travel to French Overseas Territories, including any required supporting documents.
Dutch carrier KLM’s flight attendants are wearing protective ‘mouth caps and protective gloves.’ No requirement has been made of passengers to wear masks.
KLM continually reminds passengers that the air is constantly filtered and replenished. One common phrase is “the risk of contamination onboard an aircraft is no different than anywhere else.”
KLM (The Dutch Airline) has closed its Schengen KLM Crown Lounge. However, eligible passengers are still welcome to go to the Non-Schengen KLM Crown Lounge instead.
The UK airline has not imposed any mandatory requirements of wearing masks on its flights. They have, however, reduced meal and beverage service in-flight. British Airways says they have worked to make available a selection of hot and soft drinks as well as some light refreshments. Light refreshments are prepared and pre-packaged before flight.
Mexico – Aeromexico
Mexico’s carrier Aeromexico says they are providing passengers, crew members, and airport staff with antibacterial gel.
No mention of face masks or gloves. Apparently nothing is required of their flight attendants.
However, we did note that the crew wore flight masks on a cargo flight, bringing purchased masks back from China to Mexico.
Gracias a la coordinación de @SRE_mx/@marthadelgado, gestiones de @EmbaMexChn+@ConsulMexSha y apoyo de Gobierno chino en Beijing y Shanghai se instrumenta puente aéreo China-México para reforzar equipamiento de sector @SSalud_mx por emergencia de COVID19 @m_ebrard @GobiernoMX pic.twitter.com/7X0xQgtzt2
— Embajada de México en China (@EmbaMexChn) April 7, 2020
As for precautions onboard, Aeromexico emphasizes they are using the best products for cleaning their aircraft and reminds passengers about the cabin’s air filtration.
As for food service, the airline states “We are strengthening the surveillance of our catering services to continue to maintain the highest standards of hygiene in the preparation and handling of food and tableware.” That’s appreciated, but that’s almost to be expected of any business serving food to customers, right?
Alliance Partnership Helpful Sites
Here are some great resources where you can dig a little deeper into airline policies regarding coronavirus: Airline Personal Protection Travel Requirements and Policies
- SkyTeam Alliance – Coronavirus Information Links
- Star Alliance – Coronavirus Information Links
- oneworld – Coronavirus Information Links
As the world begins to very slowly emerge from its surreal slowdown over recent weeks, airlines are issuing policies that are likely to evolve with the pandemic. The latest airline personal protection travel requirements are sure to change as the travel industry ramps up again.
With about 200 countries and lots of airlines, there are many different approaches and policies when it comes to dealing with the Coronavirus. Passengers planning to travel should not only check the airline sites, but also review local and state governments requirements.
San Francisco International Airport (SFO) for example requires face masks of everyone.
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