Crowded flights raise questions about the landscape of flying….

The number of Americans boarding commercial flights has risen steadily over the past five days, leading to an increase in reports of crowded flights on which social-distancing measures were impossible. There has been some recent criticism of American Airlines after a passenger boarded a weekend flight and found it nearly full, with no social distancing guidelines being practiced due to the shere amount of people on the flight. The question here is – if airlines keep running these flights, and travel continues even on a limited basis, what airlines are doing to protect passengers and what we can do to protect ourselves? Travel Expert, Francesca Page, sheds some light….

So are airlines listening?

American Airlines and JetBlue implemented new flying policies Monday, after travellers reported packed flights amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Taking AA as an example, we do know that despite the fact that American has cut 60% of its flights in April (and is reportedly planning on suspending more in May) beginning in early May, American will build on its cleaning program by expanding on the cleaning procedures already used during longer stops to every mainline flight. Changes will include flight attendents being required to wear masks (something Jetblue was already enforcing,) the distribution of sanitizing wipes or gels and face masks to customers, and an expansion of cleaning frequency in the areas under its control including gate areas, ticket counters, passenger service counters, baggage service offices and team member rooms. 

What do you think people will do in future to protect themselves when flying and traveling in a larger sense?

There is no doubt that people are more aware of their vulnerability in general when traveling now more than ever. In terms of flying, airlines like AA have been very open about passengers rights to ask for a seat ‘re-assigment’ to create more space and have said they are blocking half of all middle seats but they have also said seat reassigment is not guaranteed. In a larger sense I think we’ll see business and consumer travelers taking it upon themselves to keep protected in a few ways: 

  • The landscape of travel insurance and protection will change, with more business and consumer travelers joining travel health and safety programs. Those that can afford it, will sign up air medical transport and travel security memberships so that if they hospitalized while traveling, get sick or injured, transportation to a home country hospital of their choice can be arranged for in-patient care. 
  • There will undoubtably be a rise in other alternative forms of transport to flying that allow more privacy and less exposure, like the road trip.
  • People will be more aware of keeping themselves at a distance from other passengers and in flight etiquette will be more obligatory accross the board.