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What are the Differences in Coronavirus Precautions among US Airlines?

Months into the coronavirus pandemic there is still no Federal set of rules for coronavirus precautions or protections for U.S. airlines.

Neither the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) nor the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) has mandated any uniform virus-protection airline policy for the airlines. Thus, the differences in how U.S. airlines chose to protect its passengers are unique and left up to each airline.

CBS This Morning is explaining what flying in the U.S. amid the coronavirus pandemic looks like. YouTube/CBS This Morning.

Passenger counts are up for the summer

Passenger counts are up for the summer travel season, coronavirus pandemic or not. U.S. Airlines are aggressively increasing domestic flying, but international coronavirus passenger entry restrictions are keeping international flying at a low.

However, many airline analysts predict a sharp slowdown in flying again, should the pandemic not be tamed soon in the form of a vaccine and social distancing.

The level of an airline’s COVID-19 protections can affect its revenue

The airlines are finding themselves in a dilemma of facing opposites that don’t attract:

Airline Revenue means Income, while many Airline Coronavirus Protection measures translate to Expenses for our carriers!

Airlines, like any other business, are primarily concerned about revenues. At the same time, the carriers are focusing on how to best assure the safety and comfort of passengers.

So, how does an airline increase revenue while easing passengers’ minds about flying during the pandemic?

Passengers are certainly concerned about their health and safety with COVID-19 in mind when booking a flight.

Are you at an increased risk of catching the coronavirus when you fly?

Senator Jeff Merkley’s middle-seat outrage

US Senator Jeff Merkley blasted American Airlines for heavily occupying the middle seats on his flight. He got so upset that he later said he would introduce a bill to flat out ban the sale of middle seats as long as the coronavirus pandemic was going on.

Merkley called the incident “incredibly irresponsible”, warning that the practice was contributing to the spread of the disease.

To the proposed bill of banning middle seats, he said,

“A lot of folks reacted to my tweet yesterday about the irresponsible sale of middle seats on planes, saying ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if someone in the Senate did something about it?’ They’re right!”

U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley turned to Twitter about his negative airline COVID-protection experiences on his flight on American Airlines. Twitter.

CDC on flying and COVID

According to the CDC, flying while the pandemic rages is a risky undertaking to your health. The CDC has issued the COVID-19 alert, as shown in the screenshot below:

covid air travel alert cdc, differences coronavirus precautions airlines

On a separate note the CDC is also saying that “although illness may occur as a direct result of air travel, it is uncommon”. According to the CDC, most viruses don’t spread easily on planes. That’s because of how the air circulates and gets filtered in filters capable of filtering 99.9% of virus-particles. Newer jets recirculate 10%-50% of the cabin air once every three minutes or so, mixed with outside air.

Common airline passenger safety precautions against COVID-19

What are some of the things airlines are doing to attempt to make your flying as safe and convenient as possible?

Here’s a list of the current and common coronavirus-measures implemented among airlines:

  • Some airlines offer blocked middle seats. But, even with a blocked middle seat, you are still two feet away from the passenger next to you! How about the six feet social distancing, as recommended by the CDC? Forget it, unless the plane carries an extremely light passenger load. Loss of revenue and heavier loads are increasingly making a blocked middle seat impossible to offer.
  • Flying additional flights to keep passenger loads light is the practice of some airlines.
  • Requiring face coverings has become the norm.
  • Some airlines are offering customers the option of changing their flights if a crowded airplane makes them uncomfortable. Traditionally requiring that you pay a fee for changing your flight, most airlines now let you change flights for free.
empty airplane cabin, COVID-19 airline precautions, differences coronavirus precautions airlines
An almost empty plane is an airline’s nightmare, but a passenger’s delight during the coronavirus pandemic. Unsplash.

Airline differences in coronavirus precautions

We compared the differences in coronavirus passenger safety precautions and procedures at the largest U.S. airlines. This information is current at the time of publication, subject to change at any time. If you are flying with any of these airlines, please check with the airline directly for current policies.

Temperature checks: Subject to daily consideration by the airlines, only Frontier has publicly come out, announcing temperature checks will be provided prior to flight.

Airlines for America (A4A), which represents the largest U.S. airlines said that temperature checks “will add an extra layer of protection for passengers as well as airline and airport employees”.

However, the U.S. Government has not yet made a decision on whether to mandate the checks.

Alaska Airlines

  • Blocking Middle Seats? YES.
  • Passenger Face Covers required? YES.
  • Disinfect Airplanes? YES.

Allegiant

  • Blocking Middle Seats? NO.
  • Passenger Face Covers required? YES.
  • Disinfect Airplanes? YES.

American Airlines

  • Blocking Middle Seats? NO.
  • Passenger Face Covers required? YES.
  • Disinfect Airplanes? YES.

Delta Air Lines

  • Blocking Middle Seats? YES.
  • Passenger Face Covers required? YES.
  • Disinfect Airplanes? YES.

Frontier Airlines

  • Blocking Middle Seats? SOME.
  • Passenger Face Covers required? YES.
  • Disinfect Airplanes? YES.

Hawaiian Air

  • Blocking Middle Seats? YES.
  • Passenger Face Covers required? YES.
  • Disinfect Airplanes? YES.

JetBlue

  • Blocking Middle Seats? YES, only until after July 4.
  • Passenger Face Covers required? YES.
  • Disinfect Airplanes? YES.

Soutwest Airlines

  • Blocking Middle Seats? NO, but limiting flight loads.
  • Passenger Face Covers required? YES.
  • Disinfect Airplanes? YES.

Spirit

  • Blocking Middle Seats? NO.
  • Passenger Face Covers required? YES.
  • Disinfect Airplanes? YES.

Sun Country

  • Blocking Middle Seats? NO.
  • Passenger Face Covers required? YES.
  • Disinfect Airplanes? YES.

United Airlines

  • Blocking Middle Seats? NO.
  • Passenger Face Covers required? YES.
  • Disinfect Airplanes? YES.

What do you feel about the differences in coronavirus precautions that the airlines are operating with? Should there be a Federal mandate on uniform COVID-19 protection rules for airline passengers? Please let us know here.

Featured Image: The beautiful Grand Canyon, U.S.A. CaptainJetson.com.

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