How airlines Are Dealing With Covid-19 – Are you terrified about flying right now? I know I am, and I am pretty sure I am not the only one.
Think about your previous flight experience before the pandemic shutdown, and how everything from check-in, to boarding the plane, to seat configurations, and so much more that involved possible psychical contact and invasion of personal space.
With your previous flight experience, would you want to get on a plane to travel right now? I know I wouldn’t and have a feeling I am not the only one.
Since travel restrictions are beginning to ease up, and many of us have been self-isolating for months now, it’s time to start traveling again! It’s time to get away from our homes that have felt like jail cells for the past three months.
But what has the airline industry done lately to ensure that we will all feel safe getting on an airplane and escaping our so-called jail cells(homes)?
Since I am a bit of a germaphobe and have been itching to travel again, I have been researching websites of the major airlines to find out what precautions are being taken to ensure the health safety of their travelers going forward as we deal with traveling during this pandemic.
Are you worried about getting on an airplane right now to travel? Well, I have some good news that I want to share with all travelers that airlines are taking this pandemic seriously.
What you remember about the airline experience has definitely changed, and airlines are making it safer for us to fly again.
In this post, I will break down some of the major changes implemented to ensure passenger safety.
This includes what the check-in procedure, the boarding process, and the in-flight experience will be like going forward.
I hope that by the end of this post your feelings about air travel will change more positively as we all deal with this inconvenient change to our daily life right now.
Ultimate Guide On How airlines Are Dealing With Covid-19
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Airport Travel Of The Past - Boarding
How airlines Are Dealing With Covid-19 – Take a second and think about the last time you traveled by plane before Covid-19 shut down the world, and compare it to the way we live our lives today.
Airline travel was a mess. Even before the departure terminal doors opened, there was the chaos of passengers exiting out of vehicles with bags in his/her hands racing to the eventual never-ending routine of standing in line ups.
Lineups to check-in. Line ups for the TSA security checkpoint. Line ups at the restaurants and coffee shops to grab some food and drinks for the plane, and then off to the line ups at the departure gate.
The dreaded departure gate in which it always felt like entering Thunderdome in the Mad Max movie as passengers constantly jockeying for a position to board the plane.
By the time we have boarded the plane, we have been sneezed or coughed on multiple times from passengers. Plus, our shins are bruised and battered by multiple hits from misguided wheeled carry-ons from the same passengers as well.
Airport Travel Of The Past - On Board
When I always boarded a plane, being a germaphobe I always have constant questions running through my mind.
Questions like “When was the last time a passenger was on board the plane before me?”
“Has there been a cleaning crew that came on board before they proceeded to board this plane?” “Did they clean the seat headrests?” “Did they clean the armrests and tray tables?”
I could go on and on about what goes through my head as I board a plane but I don’t want to make you as paranoid as I always am.
On top of the cleanliness of the airplane, passengers on board have to possibly contend with a sick passenger on board. All you need someone to cough or sneeze without covering his/her mouth, and that whole plane it contaminated.
See how quick and easy a disease can spread without proper care attention?
So where do we go from here? Well, we all are heading in uncharted territory, and it looks like it will be a work in progress for years to come.
Changes To The Way We Fly
As you can tell from the video clip above, Airlines are taking this pandemic very seriously, and we need to be ready for big changes ahead.
Passenger safety is a priority, and airlines have introduced updated travel guidelines to get passengers ready for the future of air travel for years to come.
Below are seven step by step guidelines designed to prepare you for your next trip and help simplify your future travels.
Check your eligibility
Travel Restrictions in related to Covid-19 spikes change daily. If you are preparing to fly to a destination soon, before booking your flight make sure you are aware of any restrictions at both your origin and destination.
My suggestion is to always check your destination’s country website for quarantine policies and exceptions. Certain travelers may be exempt from these restrictions, so it’s good to find out before booking a flight.
Keep in mind that many countries around the world have implemented temporary entry requirements like limiting entry to citizens, permanent residents, and certain visa holders, or restricting essential travel only.
It’s recommended to check with your destination’s embassy or immigration office to find out if you are eligible to travel at this time.
If your forthcoming travel is affected by Covid-19, visit your airline’s website to see if there are any updates to find out how to cancel or change your flight.
Packing for your trip
Since air travel has begun to open up, airlines are focusing to reduce touchpoints on board. This means the flight crew will not be able to help passengers with stowing carry-on luggage into overhead bins.
Mind you; there will be certain situations in which they may be able to help out but count on it. Why for this change?
The reason is that flight crew are there for passenger safety throughout the flight, and this limits the chances of injury of constant lifting. Think before you pack, and if you can’t lift it over your head, then rethink your packing.
Check out this article on packing light for international travel for some packing help.
How airlines Are Dealing With Covid-19 – When it comes to checking in to your flight, airlines are suggestions that travelers always use the airlines Mobile App, or from the airline’s website. (The airlines that I use quite often: Air Canada, United, Delta, and Alaska airlines all have great mobile apps that are extremely easy to use.)
When you are checking into your flight via the airline mobile app or website, you will need to indicate the exact number of checked bags and ensure you pay for all fees (e.g. excess baggage) to avoid having any transactions and additional wait time at the airport.
If you are flying internationally, make sure your passport information is entered correctly while checking in to avoid unnecessary contact with airline gate agents.
For international travel, please ensure your passport information is entered accurately.
If you are at certain airports that have self-service areas, it is suggested to have one person from the traveling party to enter the kiosk zone, and use gloves to use the kiosk screens.
Gloves should be provided at the kiosks, but check with your airline beforehand to make sure.
Safety Measures at all airports
From what I have been researching in regards to safety measure here are the common measures airlines are following:
- Mandatory hand sanitizing before entering any self-service zone or check-in area
- Physical distancing
- Dedicated Bag Drop counters for those that have completed self-service check-in
- Stringent cleaning standards
At the airport
Health and safety measures that will be followed at the airport are entirely different than what it was like before.
Face coverings will be mandatory throughout your entire journey. Certain airports around the world will have masks available on-demand and on board, but don’t risk it.
My suggestion is to purchase masks beforehand to ensure you fulfill the airline requirements to fly. (Check out these options from Shopdisney.com for something different.)
If you have any health questions they are only answered at check-in or the boarding gate.
In regards to temperature checks, certain airlines will have employees conducting these checks beforehand.
Customers must have a maximum temperature of 37.5 degrees Celsius to be permitted onboard, except for flights to/from China where the maximum temperature is 37.2 degrees Celsius.
Plus, the travel industry is going cashless. All payments at the airport and onboard will be cashless unless prohibited by law.
How airlines Are Dealing With Covid-19 – Remember what I mentioned about the passengers standing elbow to elbow at the gate just itching to get on board the plane? Well, that is no longer going to happen as airlines deal with COVID-19.
What is happening now at the boarding gate? Customers must remain seated until their boarding zone is called and will be required to scan their boarding pass.
Boarding gates will close 30 minutes before departure to ensure a more secure boarding process.
The following is the new order for boarding:
- Customers who have requested wheelchair assistance or who self-identify as having a disability and need more time to board.
- If your airline boards by zones, zones 1 and 2 will board.
- Families with children under the age of 6.
- Zones 3 and up will board next, with most airlines boarding from back-to-front, window to aisle.
In regards to on-board experience, check your airline for further details on the changes that have been made.
But what I have noticed from the major airlines in regards to cabin grooming standards have been changed:
- HEPA filtration systems capture 99.9% of airborne particles and continually refresh cabin air.
- Complimentary customer care kits will be provided and include a 30 ml hand sanitizer, 2 antiseptic wipes, a mask, gloves, and a water bottle all in a bag that doubles as a disposable waste bag.
- No sleep amenities (pillows, blankets or mattress pads) or amenity kits will be provided.
Plus meal service has been changed, and on most flights, bar service is limited to bottled water. If you are flying in business class or flying internationally, most airlines will provide boxed meals only.
In regards to seating, it depends on the airline.
Delta airlines as an example are blocking middle seats in all cabins on all aircraft, and blocking select aisle seats in aircraft with 2×2 seating configurations.
Plus they are reducing the total number of passengers in each cabin to 50% in First Class and domestic Delta One; 60% in Main Cabin, Delta Comfort+ and Delta Premium Select; and 75% in international Delta One.
But this can change at any moment on any airline, so always check with your airline before flying.
Deplaning & collecting your bags
When it comes to offloading the plane, an on-board announcement will be made to ensure passengers are maintaining distancing while deplaning.
I’ll see this when I see this, as there is a certain percentage of people who never follow the rules, and try to rush off the plane even before the plane arrives at the gate.
Are for baggage carousels, this area will be marked off at many major airports to increase social distancing. Plus, baggage will be spaced out upon delivery to maintain distancing.
Keep in mind, just like everything that if you are traveling as a group, only one member from the travel party should approach the carousel to collect baggage.
Airline Health & Safety Policies
No matter where you go, and no matter what industry you deal with, cleaning and health practices have changed to deal with customers and Covid-19.
When it comes to the travel industry, airlines, hotels, and everything else travel related are being transparent in their health guidelines to ease their customer’s concerns.
When it comes to the airline industry, below is a breakdown of how airlines are dealing with Covid-19 from social distancing seating to sanitation guidelines. This will help give you peace of mind before flying.
Keep in mind that policies and procedures during this pandemic can change at any time, so always check with your airline before flying.
Air Canada: Pre-flight cleaning, Nightly cleaning, Cabin HEPA filters installed, Altered food/ beverage service, Health screening questions + Temperature check/thermal screening, Mask required.
Air France: Pre-flight cleaning, Cabin HEPA filters installed, Altered food/ beverage service, Temperature check/thermal screening, Mask required.
Alaska Airlines: Pre-flight cleaning, Social distancing seating, Cabin HEPA filters installed, Altered food/ beverage service, Mask Required + provided.
Allegiant: Cabin HEPA filters installed, Mask Provided.
American Airlines: Pre-flight cleaning, Nightly cleaning, Cabin HEPA filters installed, Altered food/ beverage service, Mask Required + provided.
British Airways: Pre-flight cleaning, Nightly cleaning, Cabin HEPA filters installed, Altered food/ beverage service, Mask Required.
Delta Air Lines: Pre-flight cleaning, Nightly cleaning, Social distancing seating, Cabin HEPA filters installed, Mask Required + provided.
Frontier Airlines: Nightly cleaning, Cabin HEPA filters installed, Altered food/ beverage service, Temperature check/thermal screening, Mask Required.
Hawaiian Airlines: Pre-flight cleaning, Nightly cleaning, Social distancing seating, Cabin HEPA filters installed, Mask Required.
JetBlue: Nightly cleaning, Social distancing seating, Cabin HEPA filters installed, Mask Required.
Lufthansa: Altered food/ beverage service, Social distancing seating, Mask Required.
Southwest Airlines: Pre-flight cleaning, Nightly cleaning, Social distancing seating, Cabin HEPA filters installed, Mask Required + provided.
Spirit Airlines: Pre-flight cleaning, Cabin HEPA filters installed, Altered food/ beverage service, Mask Required
United Airlines: Pre-flight cleaning, Cabin HEPA filters installed, Altered food/ beverage service, Health Questions asked, Mask Required + provided.
WestJet Airlines: Nightly cleaning, Social distancing seating, Cabin HEPA filters installed, Health Questions asked.
Now that you have read how airlines are dealing with Covid-19, do you feel better now knowing that airlines are trying to make a difference?
Flight travel has changed, and they say it may take at least 5 years to have it back to where we have been accustomed to before the pandemic happened.
But, if travelers can follow these tips on preparing for his/her next air travel journey, it may make the travel experience tolerable. Good luck on your next journey, and stay safe out there.