Flying in 2020 is a persona non grata experience. From the airport to the plane (to the quarantine hotel), if you don’t feel like a leper by the time you arrive, security hasn’t done its job.
However, there is one ~extra~ safety measure in place that is apparently only evident in business class on some flights, an Australian passenger who flew to Europe with Qatar Airways at the start of July told DMARGE.
That measure? Cabin crew wearing hazmat suits.
Earlier this month DMARGE spoke exclusively with Jaynee Wehbe, global sales director at TRIANGL, who recently was granted an exemption to travel to Ibiza on business, to find out what it’s like to fly flat to Europe right now.
Jaynee told us seeing the PPE suits felt bizarre: “It made me feel more confused than anything! I mean why is it necessary to cover your entire body? And if they think it’s necessary then why aren’t we doing it too?”.
“It was really hard to communicate with them too as the plane is loud enough and then you couldn’t see their mouth move or even their eyes!”
“The hazmat suit was only in business class: the other attendants wore a robe, mask and goggles only (only!),” Jaynee added. “Which is also confusing.”
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Another twist in the tale, according to Jaynee, is that the airport, when Jaynee flew, appeared less equipped to kill germs than the aircraft departing it: “Sydney international airport itself surprised me,” Jaynee told DMARGE.
“From memory I didn’t see any hand sanitizer stations, check in staff weren’t wearing gloves/masks nor was there any sanitizer even though they were dealing with our passports and documents.”
“Our temperature wasn’t taken upon arrival to the airport or even before boarding the flight which I found weird as we’re getting our temperature taken at restaurants now!”
Finally, Jaynee told us the face shield concept could do with some work: “Another thing I found weird was that they were handing out face shields for the flight and you weren’t allowed to walk onto the plane without wearing one.”
“But as soon as you walked past the flight attendant when you’re on the plane, you could take it off and have it off for the whole trip.”
“I just found the whole process inconsistent. Measures in place just to say that measures are in place.”
Qatar Airways is one of several airlines to introduce PPE suits for its cabin crew. Qatar Airways introduced the feature on the 18th of May to help the airline continue repatriating citizens around the world.
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According to an official statement, Qatar Airways’ cabin crew had already been wearing lower level PPE, such as masks and gloves, during flights for a number of weeks before this “extra precaution” was instigated.
“At Qatar Airways, we have introduced these additional safety measures onboard our flights to ensure the continued health and well-being of our passengers and cabin crew, and to limit the spread of coronavirus,” said Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker.
DMARGE understands Qatar Airways has not officially announced whether the hazmat suits were intended to be across the board, or only for The Pointy End.
This also comes in a context where Qatar Airways are facing allegations of bumping economy ticket holders off flights and prioritising Pointy End passengers, after Sydney Airport reduced the number of arrivals any given aircraft can bring.