To ease anxieties about flying, and to make it harder to spread the coronavirus on board, many air carriers are implementing precautions like mask requirements
"Travel that needs people to be compacted, whether it's in a train, bus, or plane, will always be high risk," Dr. Panagis Galiatsatos, a pulmonary and critical care medicine physician, recently told Grow. "Planes are, for me, the scariest, because you are relying on everyone else doing the right thing" before getting to the airport, Galiatsatos adds.
Here's what five major airlines are doing to increase passenger safety when it comes to Covid-19.
American Airlines is requiring that flyers wear a face mask and will deny boarding to any customers who won't, according to the company website. The airline says it reserves the right to deny future travel to those who don't comply with mask requirements. Starting July 29, there will be no exemptions for anyone over the age of 2.
Among other precautions, an air filtration system will "refresh" the cabin air every 2-4 minutes and you'll find glass shields installed at gates and service desks. Hand sanitizer wipes and gels will be available for international flights and domestic flights that are more than 900 miles.
The most trusted airline when it comes to Covid-19 safety is Delta, according to a Dollar Flight Club survey of 20,000 adults. "Delta airlines has led the pack since March when it comes to enforcing face masks, keeping middle seats open, and providing hand sanitizer and wipes to each passenger," says Jesse Neugarten, CEO of Dollar Flight Club.
Passengers who refuse to wear masks once on board will be approached by an employee at the end of their flight and informed that they are no longer welcome to fly. About 100 people have been put on the no-fly list so far, Delta CEO Ed Bastian told TIME.
"If you board the plane and you insist on not wearing your mask, we will insist that you don't fly Delta into the future," Bastian told NBC's TODAY.
The airline is blocking passengers from booking middle seats, and keeping some aisle seats open on smaller aircraft, so passengers are not shoulder-to-shoulder and can maintain some social distance. It is reducing capacity on aircraft by "50% in First Class and Delta One cabins with one aisle; 60% in Main Cabin, Delta Comfort+ and Delta Premium Select; and 75% in Delta One cabins with two aisles," according to the company website.
"In general, airlines are also boarding back to front to limit interaction between passengers," Neugarten says. Delta is broadly adhering to this protocol; however, "Delta One, First Class and Diamond Medallion customers may board at any point during the boarding process," according to the company website.
JetBlue is requiring that all flyers to wear a face mask and will be boarding flights back to front. Through at least September 8, the airline will also be blocking booking of middle seats and some aisle seats in smaller aircraft and will limit capacity on flights.
Before they fly, travelers must fill out a health declarations that state they have not tested positive, experienced symptoms, or been in recent contact with anyone who has tested positive for Covid-19. On the planes, a new air filtration system cycles the air out every three minutes.
Southwest is enforcing mask requirements and will provide masks for flyers who don't have one, according to the company website. Hand sanitizer dispensers will be at the check-in kiosks, ticket counters, and gates, and wipes will be available on board. The airline also has an air filtration system that is "similar to the technology found in hospitals" that will remove 99.7% of airborne particles.
Flyers will not be able to book middle seats to allow for social distancing, but families can still sit together.
As of late July, United is enforcing mask requirements for "at least the next 60 days," according to the company website. Any flyer who does not comply with mask requirement will not be allowed to fly with United until the incident is reviewed. Masks will be provided for those who do not have one.
Before traveling, the airline is asking flyers to sign a health form that says they have not been diagnosed with Covid-19 for the last 21 days or experienced symptoms for the last 14 days. Boarding will be done from back to front and fewer people will be allowed to board at one time. An air filtration system will cycle out air every 2-3 minutes.
More from Grow: