As the world’s airlines adapt to These Tumbleweed Times, Qatar Airways has pushed above the rest with an in-flight hygiene policy that puts even Naomie Campbell to shame.
On the 18th of May, Qatar Airways announced the change, which involves endowing cabin crew with disposable full-body protective gear during flights.
This comes alongside a series of other moves designed to step up security measures onboard, including a modified service that reduces interactions between the passengers and crew inflight.
Though cabin crew have already been wearing PPE during flights for a number of weeks (including gloves and face masks) they will now wear the PPE suit over their uniforms in addition to safety goggles, gloves and a mask to provide even greater reassurance to passengers.
The airline will also require passengers from Monday, May 25, to wear face coverings inflight and recommends people bring their own for fit and comfort purposes (though, if you want to go full Naomie Campbell, we doubt anyone will mind if you don your own suit too).
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In addition, Business Class meals will be served on a tray instead of a table set up, and a cutlery wrap will be offered to passengers as an alternative to individual cutlery service, in an effort to reduce contact between the crew and the passengers.
“Passengers flying Business Class can avail of the enhanced privacy the Qsuite provides include sliding privacy partitions and fully closing doors creating a private sanctuary. Passengers can also opt to the ‘Do Not Disturb (DND)’ indicator in their private suite, if they wish to limit their interactions with the cabin crew.”
As for cattle class, all meals and cutlery are served sealed as usual, while large bottles of hand sanitiser will be placed in the galleys and made available for both cabin crew and passengers. On top of that, “all social areas onboard the aircraft have also been closed to observe social distancing measures,” Qatar Airways announced.
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Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “At Qatar Airways, we have introduced these additional safety measures onboard our flights to ensure the continued health and wellbeing of our passengers and cabin crew, and to limit the spread of coronavirus. As an airline, we maintain the highest possible hygiene standards to ensure that we can fly people home safely during this time and provide even greater reassurance that safety is our number one priority.”
“Seeing as we are still flying the world’s largest international network by operating flights to more than 30 destinations around the world, and aiming to grow our network again in the coming months, these onboard safety measures will assist us in achieving our goals.”
Qatar Airways’ aircraft also continue to be regularly disinfected using cleaning products recommended by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Its home airport, Hamad International Airport, has also invested in deploying disinfectant robots, fully autonomous mobile emitting concentrated UV-C light known to be effective in eliminating majority of infectious microorganisms.
Qatar Airways’ aircraft also continue to feature cutting edge air filtration systems, with industrial filters that remove 99.97% of viral and bacterial contaminants from re-circulated air, providing the most effective protection against infection. Likewise, all the airline’s onboard linen and blankets are still being washed, dried and pressed at microbial lethal temperatures, while its headsets are removed of ear foams and rigorously sanitized after each flight.
More broadly speaking, Qatar Airways has recently made headlines for their tantalising business class deals, with savvy frequent fliers scooping up $700 return flights to Europe, “Made possible by Qatar Airways’ flexible new booking policies and 5,000-mile radius rule (which enables you to change your destination city free of charge as long as it’s within 5,000 miles from the original destination).
As other airlines follow suit (and as Qatar Airways gradually starts flying more routes), these measures help provide a crucial barrier in curbing the pandemic, as lockdown restrictions around the globe slowly ease.