Airlines and face masks

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While most airlines around the world have drastically cut their flying schedules, many are still operating a small number of flights. One of the safety measures a growing number of carriers have begun adopting, in addition to social distancing, is requiring either their cabin crew or passengers to wear protective face masks during flights to limit the spread of Covid-19.

Here’s a look at which airlines are mandating face masks (this list will be updated with more carriers as new announcements are made):

Air Asia (Thailand)
Air Asia Thailand will resume domestic flights from May 1 with “strict health controls and social distancing protocol in place” including requiring passengers to wear face masks their own face masks throughout the journey, including during check-in and baggage claim. Guests will also undergo a temperature check.

The carrier said its cabin crew on these domestic flights will have to wear protective equipment such as masks, goggles and gloves throughout the flight.

The resumed routes in Thailand include Don Mueang to Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Khon Kaen, Udon Thani, Ubon Ratchathani, Nakhon Panom, Roi Et, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Hat Yai, Surat Thani, as well as the Chiang Mai- Hat Yai route.

Air Canada
Passengers travelling with Air Canada will have to wear a face covering following a directive from Transport Canada, the carrier said on April 17.

Air Canada said travellers will be required to show that they have a “suitable face covering” prior to boarding Air Canada flights. Passengers on all flights have to wear the face covering at check-in, during boarding, and upon entering the aircraft “where social distancing is not possible”. Air Canada added that customers will be asked to lower their masks to help with full ID checks at check-in. While on board, customers will be required to wear their face coverings during the journey.

Canada’s flag carrier also said travellers can bring non-medical coverings such as cloth masks, scarves or a “similar item”.

American Airlines
The US carrier said that from May 1, 2020, all flight attendants will be required to wear face masks.

The masks will be required for flight attendants during every mainline and regional flight and the airline has added a drawer in the galley on every mainline flight containing personal protective equipment, including masks for flight attendants and pilots, and other sanitising items.

Delta
Delta has announced that from May 4, 2020, all employees and customers must wear a face mask “or appropriate face covering” when travelling with the airline.

“Aligning with best practice guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control, this move comes on the heels of our announcement earlier this week requiring employees worldwide to wear face masks if they are unable to maintain six feet of distance with customers or each other.”

Emirates
Travellers will now have to wear their own masks and gloves throughout the journey from check-in until they disembark, Emirates said earlier this month.

According to the Dubai-based carrier, all cabin crew, boarding agents and ground staff who have direct contact with passengers are wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) which includes a protective disposable gown over their uniforms, and a safety visor, in addition to masks and gloves.

Eva Air
Passengers travelling with Taiwanese carrier Eva Air are required to wear face masks throughout the flight except for when they are eating or drinking to minimise the risk of infection in accordance with regulation from Taiwan Centers for Disease Control, the carrier said on its website.

Jet Blue
From May 4, 2020, all Jet Blue customers will be required to wear a face covering during travel. The policy comes after the airline began requiring all crewmembers to wear face coverings while working.

“Wearing a face covering isn’t about protecting yourself it’s about protecting those around you,” said Joanna Geraghty, president and chief operating officer, Jet Blue. “This is the new flying etiquette. Onboard, cabin air is well circulated and cleaned through filters every few minutes but this is a shared space where we have to be considerate of others. We are also asking our customers to follow these CDC guidelines in the airport as well.”

This new policy will require customers to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth throughout their journey, including during check-in, boarding, while in flight and deplaning. Customers will be reminded of this requirement before their flight via email and at the airport by both terminal signage and announcements. Small children who are not able to maintain a face covering are exempt from this requirement.

CDC guidance defines a suitable face covering as an item of cloth that should fit snugly against the side of the face, be secured with ties or ear loops, include multiple layers of fabric and allow for unrestricted breathing. The CDC recommends surgical masks and N-95 respirators be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders.

Lufthansa Group
From Monday May 4 all member airlines of the Lufthansa Group will insist passengers wear a face mask.

Lufthansa says, “It’s recommended that passengers wear them [face masks] throughout the flight and at the  airport both before and after the flight whenever the required minimum distance cannot be guaranteed without restriction.”

“All passengers are requested to bring their own mouth and nose cover.  A reusable fabric mask is recommended but all other types of covering such as simple disposable masks or scarves are also possible.”

“The airline will inform passengers in advance by SMS or email on their respective websites.”

Lufthansa Group says “the obligation to wear the mask will apply until August 31, 2020 at the earliest.”

Singapore Airlines
The carrier has asked its cabin crew to wear face masks onboard.

“Crew are provided with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like masks and gloves. As a precautionary measure, all cabin crew are required to wear a mask while operating flights,” said a Singapore Airlines’ spokesperson in an email sent to Business Traveller Asia-Pacific.

United
United Airlines said last week that it became the first “major US-based carrier” to require all of its flight attendants to wear face masks when on duty. Cabin crew will be supplied with one mask each per duty day, and attendants may also choose to wear their own cloth mask. From May 4 all passengers will also be required to wear face coverings, with United providing face masks free of charge.

Wizz Air
As Wizz Air announced the reopening of its Luton base (May 1, 2020), it also brought in additional hygiene measures to ensure the health and safety of its customers and crew.

The measures include  the requirement that throughout the flight, cabin crew are required to wear masks and gloves and will distribute sanitising wipes to each passenger. Onboard purchases are encouraged to be made by contactless payment, to minimise physical contact.

Wizz also clarified that passengers will also be required to wear face masks and onboard magazines will be removed from the aircraft.

Airlines are requested to share information from  on whether they are requiring passengers or cabin crew to wear face masks. (travelspan@gmail.com)