ravelpulse.com - PATRICK CLARKE MARCH 05, 2021
Safe Travels Through the Friendly Skies
Airlines have stepped up their health and safety initiatives in response to the COVID-19 pandemic over the past year, requiring face masks, increasing the frequency and effectiveness of cleaning and hygiene measures, encouraging social distancing, increasing flexibility for customers by eliminating change fees and dropping cancellation penalties and even limiting capacity to keep seats open in some cases. Federal law now requires that passengers wear a face mask over their nose and mouth at all times during travel so mask policies are no longer up to individual airlines. Beyond face-coverings, here's a look at how each major U.S. carrier is approaching passenger safety in the time of COVID-19.
Alaska Airlines launched and has since expanded its Next-Level Care safety measures with nearly 100 policies, procedures and actions in place to ensure the well-being of guests and employees alike. The Alaska mobile app allows for a smooth and contactless trip while the airline has also worked with the University of Washington medical directors specializing in infectious diseases to develop enhanced aircraft cleaning procedures. Onboard, Alaska is using electrostatic disinfectant sprayers that emit a safe, high-grade EPA cleaning solution and using random ATP (adenosine triphosphate) testing throughout the cabin in some cases. Plus, its aircraft are equipped with systems containing two HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters, which are the same kind used in hospital operating rooms.
In addition to Allegiant's comprehensive cleaning program for all aircraft, the airline is providing complementary health and safety kits that include a single-use face mask and two sanitizing wipes and flying only nonstop routes so travelers can spend less time in airports. Inside the cabin, Allegiant's VOC (volatile organic compound) filters remove additional organic compounds from the air, which is changed every three minutes on average.
American Airlines was the first to launch a domestic COVID-19 testing program last year and is the first airline to achieve GBAC STAR Accreditation from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council. The carrier's Clean Commitment includes the aforementioned HEPA filters on all mainline and most regional aircraft, commercial-grade shields installed at service desks and counters, elevated sanitization throughout airports and aircraft and more touchless options to limit contact between passengers and employees.
Delta Air Lines
Delta Air Lines has led the way in terms of safety over the past year. The airline is currently the last to continue limiting capacity on all flights to leave middle seats open through April 30, 2021, and its Global Cleanliness division recently announced a new team of clean ambassadors to be deployed at airports across the country with the goal of ensuring a consistently safe and sanitized experience across all of Delta's facilities and aircraft. What's more, last month, Delta announced cardiologist Dr. Henry Ting has joined the company as the first Chief Health Officer for any U.S. airline.
Ultra-low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines is enhancing cleaning from the ticket counter to the aircraft cabin, adding time between flights to allow for the proper disinfection of touchpoints like lavatories, seats, armrests, tray tables, walls, overhead panels and bins and window shades. Frontier's planes also use effective HEPA filters able to capture respiratory virus particles at more than 99.9 percent efficiency and the airline is using touchless thermometers to perform temperature screenings on all passengers and crew.
Hawaiian Airlines is making it safe and easy to bypass Hawaii's mandatory 10-day quarantine for out-of-state visitors with a negative COVID-19 test result by organizing all of the state's approved trusted traveling partners by departure city. The airline has also enhanced its cleaning procedures and modified in-flight services to promote physical distancing and encourages passengers to download the Hawaiian Airlines mobile app for a touchless check-in experience.
JetBlue is promising customers safety from the ground up starting with healthy crewmembers who receive temperature checks and cleaning kits for use onboard. The carrier is also focusing on clean air and surfaces, even distributing Personal Protection Packs to passengers that include hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. Plus, JetBlue is conducting deep cleans of its aircraft every night. This includes applying a hospital-grade disinfectant known as Sani-Cide EX3 that is proven to be effective against the coronavirus.
Budget-friendly Southwest Airlines has issued the "Southwest Promise" in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, committing to round-the-clock cleaning using an electrostatic disinfectant, an anti-microbial spray and the previously-mentioned broad-spectrum disinfectant Sani-Cide EX3. Like most businesses and other airlines, Southwest has also posted airport signage and floor markers to promote physical distancing. The airline is boarding in groups of 10 to cut down on crowding, encouraging the use of mobile boarding passes through the Southwest Airlines app and constantly evaluating its health and safety policies and procedures based on public health guidance, scientific research and advice from several medical and aviation organizations, including the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Spirit Airlines has also made a commitment to travelers' safety through the implementation of an abundance of measures both at the airport and onboard its aircraft, including utilizing not one but two EPA-registered fogging treatments to disinfect its all-Airbus fleet, which is equipped with HEPA filters that filter the air for contaminants every 2-3 minutes. Customers can also limit contact with the help of the Spirit mobile app, which allows them to easily book, check-in and access their boarding pass as well as learn more about what the carrier is doing to protect passengers and staff amid the pandemic.
United Airlines has taken numerous steps to protect passengers in the time of COVID-19, including launching the world's first free transatlantic COVID-19 testing pilot program late last year and continuing to board from the back of the plane to the front to promote social distancing. United has also created an automated assistant to help answer passengers' questions regarding safety and cleaning policies. Travelers can simply text "Clean" to FLYUA (35982) to get started. Additionally, they can download the United app for contactless travel assistance and other tools.
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