Airlines around the world are expending incredible time and energy to address concerns surrounding COVID-19. We are aware of many of these steps and wanted to share the most common sense actions with all our airline members.
While you may have already deployed or considered these actions, we hope this list from APEX may offer an additional perspective to spark ideas for further practices that help reassure passengers.
Please visit apex.aero/coronavirus for industry updates and information related to COVID-19.
(1) Flight Crew, Passengers Are Advised to Wear Face Coverings for the Safety of Others
In all geographies where face coverings are recommended by government officials, airlines and their passengers should set the highest example of safety. Airline team members and passengers are advised to wear face coverings throughout their journey with the exception of eating and drinking. As demonstrated by WHO and CDC data, coverings combined with key hygiene steps significantly reduce the risk of contagion to others. This includes non-traditional face coverings as needed to make certain that medical professionals have the highest priority for medical-grade face masks.
(2) Encourage Older / Underlying Medical Not to Travel
On 5 March , the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated public guidance encouraging those older and/or with underlying medical conditions to stay at home minimizing all interaction with the public. While airlines continue to be a very safe form of travel, we should take initiative to encourage greater safety for those that require heightened protection from COVID-19.
(3) Clearly Communicate Passenger / Staff Safety Measures
Openly explain to customers the steps that your airline is taking to make certain they are able to travel safely and easily.
(4) Consider Broader Waivers for Changes and Cancellations
Work to minimize concern about future travel by considering broader waivers for booking changes and cancellations to provide greater passenger certainty.
(5) Enhance Traceability of Customer Contact Details
Review procedures for managing passenger contact details. Governments and agencies may at some point require airlines to contact passengers after a flight in the unlikely event a passenger is later found to be infected with COVID-19.
(6) Passengers that Appear Sick Should Not Be Allowed to Board / Take Off without a Doctor’s Approval
Consider alerting passengers that if they are traveling with symptoms, they may be denied boarding. If customers have a visible cough / sneezing / tissue usage, then airlines may wish to require that passengers have a doctor’s note to board their flight. For example, seasonal allergies may be mistaken for something worse without such documentation. The greatest risk remains passenger perception and denied ability to deplane at an international destination. In geographies minimally affected now, consider giving advance notice to passengers that visibly ill passengers traveling after a set date in the future will require a doctor’s note certifying non-contagiousness and their ability to safely travel.
(7) Encourage Flight Crew Awareness
Advise passengers that flight crews are encouraged to watch for individuals with clear symptoms that may concern other passengers. Consider a protocol for denying boarding. In geographies worldwide, the Captain of the aircraft has the ability to deny boarding for the safety and security of the aircraft.
(8) Have Clear Aircraft Decontamination Procedures in Place
Review and update aircraft decontamination plans as needed and consider sharing them to further assure the public. Demonstrate full readiness for customers and crew. In Asia, airlines have had to quite rapidly launch programs of this nature. In other areas of the world, airlines should consider how to conduct aircraft decontamination at base and outlying stations.
(9) Have In-Flight Aircraft Decontamination Procedures in Place
Consider providing crew with disinfectants to use on lavatory handles and demonstrate during safety procedures how to use hand towels to open and close lavatory doors after washing hands as an additional safety precaution. The WHO has pointed to viral loads in fecal matter as equal to those in sneezes. The lavatory is a high-risk point for COVID-19 infected individuals that are not exhibiting any symptoms.
(10) Work with Airport / Government Authorities
In affected regions, work with airport and government authorities to establish airports as safe zones by not allowing visibly ill individuals into the airport and past security. Further, work with airport and governmental authorities for security line decontamination procedures. Consider offering passengers hand-sanitizing and washing ability after they have passed through security.
(11) Enhance the Ability for Airline / Supplier Staff to Call in Sick
Take any steps needed to enable truthful self-reporting by airline and supplier employees. Consider steps to mitigate the economic impact on employees that miss work while ill. By taking proactive steps to encourage honest reporting by employees, airlines and suppliers reduce risks for their team members and customers.
APEX encourages your feedback to further modify this list. If you have additional suggestions to add to our next update, please contact APEX CEO Joe Leader directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our ability to work together during this difficult time advances our industry’s preparedness. Thank you for all you are doing to fully support air travel during this crisis.
A version of this information was recently shared by APEX via email to its members.