As countries begin to emerge from the coronavirus quarantines, people are beginning to book flights again. In order to reassure the public that flying is safe, airlines are trying to figure out the best way to attract customers. Some airlines have started requiring crew members and passengers to wear face masks onboard, while others are removing seats and disinfecting planes.
Currently, Lufthansa Group (Lufthansa, SWISS, and Austrian Airlines) and JetBlue will require all passengers and cabin crew to wear mouth and nose covers on all flights. On short-haul flights, this probably won’t impact your journey in any way, however, on long haul flights, where meals are served, new challenges will surely arise. There will most likely be spaced out meal times, where each passenger in a row is served at a different time. Lufthansa says it plans to have the rule in place until August 31, 2020, but any potential future outbreak is likely to influence that decision.
While not requiring them, other US airlines, such as United, Frontier, Delta, and American all encourage passengers to wear face coverings, while also mandating that cabin crew wear protective gear. American and Delta are even providing masks to passengers prior to boarding.
Canada has taken a different approach. Rather than leaving it up to their airlines (like Air Canada and WestJet), the country has demanded that any aircraft arriving to or departing from a Canadian airport must have all crew and passengers wearing a protective face covering. Canada will not be providing masks, and passengers may be turned away if they arrive without one.
Airlines like Spirit and American have also taken an extra step and have removed the middle seats from most of their flights in order to give passengers more room to social distance.
Many airlines, like Qantas, Spirit, Delta, United, American, Frontier, and numerous others around the world, are also now “fogging” their aircraft. This is where they go in and spray the entire plane with a heavy-duty disinfectant before passengers board.
Currently, there is no global standard on airplane protocols concerning potential exposure to the coronavirus. Your best bet is to contact your airline before traveling to ask what they’re specifically doing. It’s also probably a good idea to arrive at the airport with a face mask, just in case.
In the coming weeks and months, it’s safe to assume that airlines and countries around the world will require face coverings for travel. This will most likely be a standard practice for the summer, and potentially throughout the rest of 2020. Whether this encourages, or discourages, airline travel remains to be seen.
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