The airline industry is in a precarious situation as people all over the world are wary of travel. However, the industry hopes to rebuild its reputation by doubling its sanitation efforts to keep passengers safe.
During the earlier months of COVID-19, air traffic was reduced by 95 percent last April, and at least half the planes in the world were grounded. Airports became ghost towns as demand plummeted.
Although demand now is still 70 percent lower than it was last year, airlines are slowly increasing their flights for the summer travel. In Europe, flights increased by 400 percent in June as it released a list of countries they deemed safe to enter its borders.
With the pandemic still at large, flights have reduced capacity to avoid further spread. One Delta Airline flight attendant said that their cabin has no more than 20 people at a time. On top of that, additional effort was made to cleanse the cabin.
The Center for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC) released a set of guidelines for recommended sanitary policies for airlines. One additional process that airline crews have to do is air fogging, a process of cleaning that involves misting an area with chemical disinfectants. It coats the air with disinfectants, ensuring that all corners of the cabin are cleansed. An electrostatic sprayer is used, and it has a 99 percent efficiency.
This method is primarily used in high-traffic flights. Air fogging cleans all surfaces, including the seats, tables, ceiling, lavatories, crew areas, and galley. Both Delta and United Airline have started using this method and are looking to find more equipment to use them for more planes.
Blocking Middle Seats
To encourage social distancing, airlines have blocked out middle seats in their bookings. This practice is done by assigning seats and preventing passengers from adjusting seats. In Delta, travelers will not be able to book the middle seats.
Some like Alaska Airlines have taken it a step further and also blocked certain aisle and window seats based on the layout of the plane. Travelers can expect this kind of setup until around August or September.
CDC also recommends that cabin crew wear additional personal protective equipment to protect both themselves and the passengers. Most airlines practice this by wearing face masks and gloves. In Qatar Airlines, they give their cabin crew full-body PPE that comes with goggles and a suit that covers their entire body from head to toe.
Additionally, passengers are also required to wear a face mask for the entire flight in all airlines. In fact, some like United will offer masks to travelers who aren’t wearing any. Refusal to wear the mask will result in the traveler being banned from traveling in the future. Flight attendants have expressed concern that some passengers are taking their masks off once they boarded or are not covering their noses.
No Contact Services
The main job of flight attendants is to provide customer service, but this involves a lot of contact. Cabin crew are working around this by having their utensils packaged when handing them out. In addition, food distribution and other in-flight services have been reduced across all classes to lessen contact. Also, sanitary wipes are being distributed to passengers for personal use.
Whenever a flight attendant has to hand out snacks or collect trash, they are asked to dispose of the gloves they are wearing every time. Airlines also bring multiple face masks, so the cabin crew can change masks every few hours.
Required Temperature Checks
Before boarding, temperature checks are now being implemented in most airlines. Those who have a temperature of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius will not be allowed to board. From the moment people enter the airport, they will already undergo temp checks either through an infrared thermometer or a camera. Some like Singapore Airlines also conduct a health assessment prior to boarding.
Health checks don’t end there though as flight attendants will be keeping a watchful eye on passengers who exhibit symptoms of the virus. This includes coughing, sneezing, and other respiratory problems. Fortunately, flight attendants have medical training that helps them identify symptoms of illnesses even if it only appears mild.
Major airlines in Canada have also levelled up with HEPA filters, which are designed to capture and clean particles from the air inside the cabin. This helps reduce the spread of airborne pathogens. Both WestJet and Air Canada have these equipped in their aircrafts. Air Canada assures passengers that the air is refreshed and renewed every two to three minutes.
Even when extra safety practices had to be done, flight attendants and their cabin crew managed to adapt to these changes seamlessly. Safety has and always will be their number one priority. As our frontliners in the skies, flight attendants would go above and beyond for the wellness of their passengers.
Want to make air travel safer for everyone? Become a flight attendant today! Eton College will equip you with the necessary skills and training needed to get into the airline industry. Our program has produced several graduates who have gone off to fly internationally with Air Canada and Cathay Pacific.