One challenge facing commercial air traffic is to restart its operations while preventing the spread of COVID-19. BusinessClass researched what initiatives airlines and airports take to ensure safety and increase travel confidence

Flexible cancellation and rebooking policies

At the start of the pandemic, airlines relaxed their cancellation and rebooking rules – and there are indications that this will remain. An example is the Lufthansa group, which waives the rebooking fees for passengers until December 2021 for tickets booked before 30 June 2020.

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Photo: Lufthansa

Restrictions and new routines at the airport

IATA advises airports to restrict terminal access to workers and travelers, and airports worldwide are complying with this. Both the airport and aircraft are disinfected and cleaned more regularly. To minimise the passengers’ time at the airport, travelers are encouraged to use self-service options, such as mobile check-in and self-service luggage drop off.

Temperature screening and testing

Most airports have implemented temperature screening at the entrance to the terminal building. Depending on the regulations in each country, airlines may have to test passengers at the airport. One example is Emirates, the first airline to conduct on-site rapid COVID-19 tests at the airport. Emirates tested all passengers on a flight from Dubai to Tunisia on 15 April.

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Photo: Emirates

On-board boarding

To facilitate social distancing, airlines have introduced new boarding procedures – One airline being SAS, which alerted its boarding procedures to boarding passengers via zones.

Protection for passengers and flight crew

Facial masks have become compulsory, both for travelers and for employees. SAS recently announced, like other airlines, that they follow EASA’s recommendations regarding face masks. Some airlines, such as Emirates and Qatar, have even purchased fully-body protective gear for their flight crew.

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Photo: Qatar

Blocked seats

The risk of COVID-19 transmissions on a flight is low due to the ventilation systems, but certain airlines block seats to ensure social distancing. Low-cost airlines, such as Frontier Airlines and China Express, have begun to push their supplementary products, which guarantees an empty middle seat during the trip.

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Inflight experience

So far, airlines, such as British Airways, have suspended food and beverage services on shorter flights. Some airlines even offer special amenity kits to passengers – United Airlines kit includes snacks, water, disinfectant wipes, and facial mask.

We mentioned examples of initiatives that the aviation industry is doing to regain travel confidence. Now, we would like to hear from you. Do these new practices affect your future desire to travel?