Covid-19 has had a crushing effect on air travel and travel generally. Those facts have been well documented. In response, airlines have implemented a variety of measures designed to assure the public that they are working hard to make getting on an airplane as safe as possible.
These measures include requiring the use of face masks on board, in lounges, and at the gate, reducing or eliminating in-flight service for all classes of service, enhanced aircraft cleaning, consulting agreements with medical facilities, employee testing, closing many lounges and reducing available services in the ones that remain open, and in some cases reducing capacity by blocking middle seats in coach and half of the seats in first class.
Many of these measures increase costs and/or reduce revenue when airlines are struggling financially. But airlines have little choice if they want to have any passengers.
From what I’ve read, Delta Air Lines appears to be one of the leaders in these efforts. What I appreciate most is that Delta is blocking half of its first class seats and all middle seats in coach and cleaning the cabin using electrostatic spraying between each flight.
I haven’t flown since March when the pandemic was in its early stages in the U.S. I felt very tense on that flight because passengers were packed in like sardines. Blocking seats may not create the preferred amount of distancing between passengers, but having more personal space should reduce anxiety and the risk of transmission. As a bonus, having empty seats enhances passenger comfort.
Delta has committed to continue blocking middle seats through September 30, 2020. Given the projected trajectory of Covid-19 in the U.S., I think that Delta will find it difficult to discontinue that practice then.
The use of face masks is controversial in the U.S. as some seem to view it as recognition of a problem that, for political reasons, they would rather pretend is nonexistent. There are apparently some medical reasons why wearing a face mask is inadvisable for a tiny percentage of the population. Airlines have instituted processes for those people to be certified before getting on a plane.
For those without an exemption from wearing a mask, Delta takes enforcement seriously. In an employee communication last week, Delta reported that it had already banned 120 passengers from future travel for refusing to wear masks.
This short video from Delta explains its Covid-19 response succinctly. Please take a look.
I’m impressed with Delta’s efforts although they haven’t convinced me to get on a flight at this point. What do you think? Are these procedures sufficient to get you to seriously consider air travel? If not, what additional measures would you like to see implemented? Please comment. Thanks.