Qatar Airways today announced that it would require economy class passengers to wear both face shield and a mask throughout the flight when not eating or drinking beverages.
Business-class passengers care exempt from wearing them during the flight, but everyone needs to have them on during boarding and disembarkation. Qatar Airways will provide complimentary protective kits to all passengers.
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Here’s the announcement from the airline:
Qatar Airways has increased its health and safety measures onboard by introducing new personal protective equipment (PPE) for customers and cabin crew. The airline’s additional robust measures include offering face shields and protective kits to all passengers, in addition to a new protective gown for cabin crew.
The disposable face shield will be available in two standard sizes – one for adults and the other for children. The children’s face shields feature the airline’s Oryx Kids Club mascots as part of their design. Passengers travelling from Hamad International Airport (HIA) will receive their face shields at the check-in counters, whereas at other destinations, the face shields will be distributed at the boarding gates.
Onboard, all Qatar Airways passengers will be provided with a complimentary protective kit. Inside a ziplock pouch they will find a single-use surgical face mask, large disposable powder-free gloves and an alcohol-based hand sanitiser gel. Business Class customers will also be offered an additional 75ml sanitiser gel tube.
Qatar Airways has also introduced new disposable protective gowns for cabin crew that are fitted over their uniforms, in addition to safety glasses, gloves and a mask. The new branded gowns are personalised with Qatar Airways’ logo imprinted on the top left corner.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, the safety of our passengers has been our highest priority. By introducing these additional onboard safety and hygiene measures, our customers can rely on us and our unparalleled expertise to fly them safely to their destination. As the largest international airline flying consistently throughout the pandemic, we have become one of the most experienced in safety and hygiene. We will continue to lead the industry in terms of the services offered to our passengers, so that they can travel with confidence.”
To ensure the highest levels of hygiene onboard, Economy Class passengers are required to wear their face shield visor in addition to their face mask or covering throughout the flight, except when they are served their meals or drinks. Business Class customers are asked to wear their face shield and mask onboard at their own discretion, as they enjoy more space and privacy. In addition, for aircraft equipped with Qsuite, Qatar Airways’ award-winning business seat, Business Class customers are offered even greater privacy with sliding partitions and fully closing doors, and an option to display a ‘Do Not Disturb (DND)’ indicator if they wish to limit their interactions with cabin crew.
Parents flying with children should advise them to keep wearing their PPE throughout the journey, although children under two years of age are not advised to wear face shields and face masks or coverings . During boarding and disembarkation, all passengers will be required to wear their face mask or covering as well as the face shield.
Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, the airline has also applied other additional health and safety measures onboard its flights. Business Class meals are served covered on a tray instead of a table set up, and a cutlery wrap is offered to passengers as an alternative to individual cutlery service, in an effort to minimise contact between crew and passengers. Qatar Airways has also introduced single-use menu cards and sealed refreshing wipes. Economy Class meals and cutlery are served sealed as usual, and menu cards have been temporarily discontinued. All social areas onboard the aircraft have been closed adhering to the social distancing measures.
Qatar Airways must be the first major airline, outside of repatriation flights, to require its passengers to wear both face shield and a mask during the flight, and boarding and disembarkation.
I have seen some simulations of airflow within an airline cabin, and how passengers could be affected if someone nearby is infected with Covid-19. It would be interesting to see scientific research, peer-reviewed, how potential threat this is, and whether it can be eliminated.