Airline Safety Post COVID-19

22 September 2021
Read Time: 10.5 mins
Get the facts on what airlines around the world are doing to keep you COVID-safe in the air. 
 

Airline Safety Protocols 

  • Air New Zealand 

  • American Airlines 

  • British Airways 

  • Cathay Pacific 

  • Delta Air Lines 

  • Emirates 

  • Etihad Airways 

  • Japan Airlines 

  • Jetstar 

  • Qantas 

  • Singapore Airlines 

  • Turkish Airlines 

  • Virgin Atlantic 


 
It’s a whole new world out there. We used to take the option to hop on a plane at the moment’s notice for granted, or just casually booking a sale flight six or 12 months ahead with ease – now the idea of getting on a plane seems like a big event and one we need to do a little more care.  
 
When it comes to getting back to boarding, you want to know the airlines have got your back and COVID-safety is covered.   
 
Here’s a quick run-down on how some of the top airlines around the world are keeping it COVID-cleaner from check-in to touch down! Grab the sanny (sanitiser) and keep your mask at the ready! 
 
For further information on airline safety and more, see our Help Centre.  
 
*This information is correct at the time of publishing this article. Please note current and full safety protocols for each airline can be found on their respective websites – this is but a guide. 
 

Air New Zealand 

Status? Limited international service. 

 

In-flight safety: 

- PPE required onboard? Yes, passengers are required to wear a face mask onboard. These will be made available onboard along with hand sanitiser for crew and passengers, and all aircrafts are now fitted with biohazard kits 
 
- Empty seats between different groups 
 
- Extra cleaning of the aircraft between flights, including stronger disinfectants 
 
- Aircrafts are fitted with hospital-grade HEPA air-filtration systems 

 

Safety at check-in: 

- Customers are encouraged to download the Air New Zealand app and check-in online prior to arrival at the airport 
 
- Only every second kiosk will be operating, to maintain social distancing  
 
- Floor markers will be used in queues throughout the airport journey  
 
- Boarding will be done in zones to avoid congestion 
 
- Buffet services won't be open in lounges 

American Airlines 

Status? Limited international service. 

 

In-flight safety: 

- PPE required onboard? Yes, passengers are required to wear a face mask onboard. Passengers are asked to bring their own face covering, however, American Airlines is also planning to distribute masks 
 
- Cabin crew have been required to wear face masks since 1 May 2020 
 
- Extra cleaning of the aircraft between flights, including stronger disinfectants 
 
- Aircrafts are fitted with hospital-grade HEPA air-filtration systems 
 
- American Airlines were the first airline to achieve GBAC STAR™ Accreditation from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council  

 

Safety at check-in: 

- Customers are encouraged to download the American app for free and use the "Ready to fly hub" to assist with check  
 
- Extra and expanded frequency of cleaning in all airport areas under American Airlines' control, including gate areas, ticket counters and baggage services 
 
- Social distancing measure in places at gates and counters 

British Airways 

Status? A limited network of flights have resumed. 

 

In-flight safety: 

- PPE required onboard? Yes, passengers are required to wear a mask onboard 
 
- Cabin crew have been provided with hand sanitisers 
 
- Improved cleaning program, including more cleaning teams and regular inspections 
 
- Aircrafts are fitted with hospital-grade HEPA air-filtration systems 
 
- Limited onboard menu options, in order to reduce physical contact with crew 

 

Safety at check-in: 

- Social distancing measures in places at gates and counters 
 
- The operation of BA lounges has temporarily been suspended 
 

Cathay Pacific 

Status? A limited network of flights have resumed.  

 

In-flight safety: 

- PPE required onboard? Yes – passengers will be required to wear a face mask on all flights 
 
- Improved cleaning program, using products recommended by IATA and WHO 
 
- Aircrafts are fitted with hospital-grade HEPA air-filtration systems 
 
- Trolley services suspended in First & Business Class and meals are served on a single tray 
 
- Suspension of hot towels, pillows, blankets, magazines and duty-free sales 

 

Safety at check-in: 

- Passengers are required to answer health screening questions upon check-in at worldwide airports including Hong Kong 
 
- Hand sanitiser readily available throughout Hong Kong International Airport 
 
- Temperature checks for passengers boarding flights in the UK and North America, and for all those arriving, departing and transiting in Hong Kong 
 
- The operation of Cathay Pacific lounges – with the exception of The Wing First and Business and Shanghai Pudong – has temporarily been suspended 

Delta Air Lines 

Status? A limited network of flights have resumed. 

 

In-flight safety: 

- PPE required onboard? Yes – all passengers are required to wear a face mask or covering. Wellness kits (including a face mask and sanitising wipes) will be available at check-in if required 
 
- Customers and cabin crew are required to wear face coverings throughout the flight 
 
- Aircrafts are fitted with hospital-grade HEPA air-filtration systems 
 
- Middles seats are blocked off, and select aisle and window seats are not being used 
 
- Capacity is capped at 50% in First Class and 60% if Economy, Delta Comfort+ and Delta Premium Select 
 
- Extra cleaning measures in place – especially in high-touch areas – with electrostatic spraying on all aircraft before departure 
 
- Non-essential items removed from the aircraft, including Sky magazine 
 
- Passengers are encouraged to bring their own TSA-approved food and drink as there will be a reduced food and beverage service onboard 

 

Safety at check-in: 

- Passengers encouraged to download the Fly Delta app, for a touch-free check-in experience 
 
- All staff will be wearing face masks 
 
- Social distancing measures in places at gates and counters 
 
- Hand sanitiser readily available 
 
- Extra and expanded frequency of cleaning in all airport areas under Delta Air Lines' control

Emirates 

Status? A limited network of flights have resumed. 

 

In-flight safety:  

- PPE required onboard? Yes – passengers will be required to wear a face mask on all flights 
 
- Emirates has introduced complimentary hygiene kits to be given to every passenger upon check-in at Dubai International Airport and on flights to Dubai. These kits comprise of masks, gloves, antibacterial wipes and hand sanitiser 
 
- Cabin crew will wear full PPE, including gowns/suits, masks and visors 
 
- Extra cleaning measures in place – including Cabin Service Assistants onboard flights to ensure lavatories are cleaned at regular intervals 
 
- Mattresses, pillows, blankets and headphones will all be hygienically sealed 
 
- The in-flight hot meal service will operate, using high-quality cutlery and crockery which is sterilised before each use 

 

Safety at check-in: 

- Thermal scanning is in operation for incoming arrivals to Dubai, as well as transit passengers and outgoing passengers on flights to the USA 
 
- All check-in staff will be wearing face masks, visors and protective gowns/suits 
 
- Social distancing measures and markers in places at gates and counters 
 
- Gloves and masks are mandatory for all customers and employees at the airport in Dubai 
 

Etihad Airways 

Status? A limited network of flights have resumed. 

 

In-flight safety: 

- PPE required onboard? Yes – passengers must wear a face mask while travelling and are encouraged to wash their hands regularly 
 
- 'Wellness kits' are available for all passengers. These kits comprise of masks, gloves and hand sanitiser 
 
- Cabin crew will wear PPE, including masks, at all times 
 
- Changes have been made to seat maps onboard, to ensure more space between passengers  
 
- Aircrafts are fitted with hospital-grade HEPA air-filtration systems 
 
- Extra cleaning measures in place – including deep cleans after every flight 
 
- Non-essential items, like magazines, have been removed 
 
- All cabins have been refreshed with new seat covers and carpets 
 
- In-flight meal options are reduced and subject to rigorous hygiene testing 

 

Safety at check-in: 

- Temperature screening is in operation at Abu Dhabi Airport 
 
- All check-in staff will be actively monitoring passengers for visible signs of infection 
 
- Social distancing measures and markers in places at gates and counters 
 
- Etihad lounges are temporarily closed. When they reopen, facilities will have new safety measures that ensure social distancing 

Japan Airlines 

Status? A limited network of flights have resumed. 

 

In-flight safety: 

- PPE required onboard? Yes – passengers will be required to wear a face mask on all Japan Airlines flights 
 
- Changes have been made to seat maps onboard, to ensure more space between passengers  
 
- Aircrafts are fitted with hospital-grade HEPA air-filtration systems 
 
- Cabin crew will wear PPE, including masks, at all times 
 
- Antibacterial wipes will be available in all cabin classes 
 
- Extra disinfecting measures in place onboard 
 
- Cash is no longer being accepted for in-flight sales. Passengers can use credit/debit cards, JAL coupons or JAL gift certificates 

 

Safety at check-in: 

- Passengers will be required to check-in online prior to their arrival at the airport 
 
- Social distancing is requested at gates and counters 
 
- Thermal body temperature inspections have been set up at Tokyo Haneda Airport for both domestic and select international flights 

Jetstar 

Status? A limited network of flights have resumed. 

 

In-flight safety: 

- PPE required onboard? Yes – passengers will be required to wear a face mask on all flights and throughout the airport 
 
- Changes have been made to seat maps onboard, to ensure more space between passengers  
 
- Aircrafts are fitted with hospital-grade HEPA air-filtration systems 
 
- Cabin crew will wear PPE, including masks, at all times 
 
- Antibacterial wipes will be available in all cabin classes 
 
- Extra disinfecting measures in place onboard 
 
- Cash is no longer being accepted for in-flight sales. Passengers can use credit/debit cards 

 

Safety at check-in: 

- Contactless check-in and bag drop, allowing customers to avoid unnecessary contact. 
 
- Social distancing is requested at gates and counters 
 
- Enhanced cleaning 
 

Qantas 

Status? All Qantas international flights are currently suspended due to government restrictions.  

 

In-flight safety: 

- PPE required onboard? Yes – passengers will be required to wear a face mask on all flights and throughout the airport 
 
- Changes have been made to seat maps onboard, to ensure more space between passengers  
 
- Aircrafts are fitted with hospital-grade HEPA air-filtration systems 
 
- 'Fly Well' packs containing a mask and sanitising wipes will be made available to all passengers 
 
- The in-flight food and beverage offering has been reduced 
 
- In-flight entertainment has been temporarily removed 
 
- Extra hygiene protocols are in place onboard, including enhanced cleaning of the aircraft – with a focus on high-contact areas 
 
- Passengers are being asked to limit movement around the cabin, once created 
 
- Non-essential items like the in-flight magazine have been temporarily removed 

 

Safety at check-in: 

- Contactless check-in (online or via the Qantas app) is recommended 
 
- Social distancing is requested at gates and counters 
 
- Self-service bag drop is highly encouraged 
 
- Self-scanning of boarding passes will be in place 
 
- Hand sanitiser available throughout the airport 
 
- High-traffic areas under Qantas' control are to be cleaned more regularly 

Singapore Airlines 

Status? A limited network of flights have resumed. 

 

In-flight safety: 

- PPE required onboard? Yes – passengers should bring and wear their own face masks throughout their journey 
 
- Passengers are required to observe safe-distancing measures when boarding and disembarking, and when queuing for the lavatory 
 
- 'SIA Care Kits', including a face mask, hand sanitiser and anti-bacterial wipes, will be provided 
 
- Aircrafts are fitted with hospital-grade HEPA air-filtration systems 
 
- Designated seating zones have been mapped out 
 
- Cabin crew will wear PPE, including masks and goggles/eye visors, at all times 
 
- Extra cleaning measures in place onboard, including stronger disinfectant 
 
- Hot-towel services have been temporarily suspended 
 
- Non-essential items, including menu cards and seatback literature, have been temporarily removed 

 

Safety at check-in: 

- Passengers are encouraged to check-in online prior to their arrival at the airport 
 
- Passengers may be asked to complete a health declaration at the airport. If you're travelling to Singapore, you can submit an electronic health declaration up to three days before you fly 
 
- Social distancing is requested at gates and counters 
 
- In-flight shopping has been suspended, but passengers can pre-order their duty-free shopping at the KrisShop website 

Turkish Airlines 

Status?  A limited network of flights have resumed. 

 

In-flight safety: 

- PPE required onboard? Yes.  Passengers are required to wear either surgical masks or (FFP) face masks without valves. Make sure you bring extra masks to last you the duration of your journey 
 
- Turkish Airlines have been awarded the Diamond status by APEX Health Safety 
 
- Aircrafts are fitted with hospital-grade HEPA air-filtration systems 
 
- Cabin crew will wear PPE and use hand sanitiser where necessary 
 
- Staff will be actively monitoring passengers for signs of infection 
 
- Extra cleaning measures in place onboard, including a specialist hygiene squad that disinfects the cabins between flights 
 
- All items used during meals go through an extra level of disinfection  
 
- All blankets, linens, headrest covers, bedsheets and headsets are cleaned and replaced between flights 

 

Safety at check-in: 

- Passengers are encouraged to check-in online prior to their arrival at the airport 
 
- Social distancing is requested at gates and counters 
 
- Thermal body temperature inspections have been set up at Istanbul Airport 
 
- Hand sanitiser readily available 
 
- At Istanbul Airport, Turkish Airlines has undertaken a public information campaign, including COVID-19 signage across all areas of the terminal 

Virgin Atlantic  

Status? Reduced flights at present. More routes are set to be added for Virgin's winter 2020/21 schedule. 

 

In-flight safety: 

- PPE required onboard? Yes – passengers will be required to wear a face mask on all flights and throughout the airport 
 
- Aircrafts are fitted with hospital-grade HEPA air-filtration systems 
 
- Cabin crew will be equipped with cleaning kits, including gloves, disinfectant and cleaning wipes 
 
- Extra cleaning measures in place onboard, using high-grade disinfecting products and with a focus on high-touch areas 
 
- All linen, tableware, dishes, cutlery, glassware, child bassinets and headphones are replaced and disinfected after each flight 
 
- Cash is no longer being accepted for in-flight sales. Passengers can use credit/debit cards 
 
- 'Health Packs' are available for all passengers. These kits comprise of masks, wipes and hand sanitiser 
 
- The in-flight food and beverage offering is operating a streamlined service, including one main meal with juices and soft drinks 

 

Safety at check-in: 

- Passengers will be encouraged to check-in online prior to their arrival at the airport 
 
- Social distancing is requested at gates and counters 

 

 

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