Over the past weeks, many countries have closed their borders and heightened their travel restriction, forcing some airlines to suspend operations entirely.
Nevertheless, whenever possible, many airlines are still maintaining viable flights or operating at bare skeleton schedule. To protect employees and passengers, some airlines are ramping measures, including the introduction of social distancing, to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 infection.
One airline that mandates social distancing onboard is Air New Zealand.
According to Cam Wallance, Chief Revenue Officer of Air New Zealand, the airline is currently amending seat maps and implementing sales restriction to allow customers to be spaced out where appropriate.
In addition, the company’s spokeswoman said that the airline will ensure airfares are not artificially hiked by the algorithms, as a result of a decrease in seat capacity.
Here is an example of how Air New Zealand plans its seat arrangement to facilitate social distancing.
For ATR and Q300 aircraft with a 2-2 seat configuration, passengers will be allocated to the windows seat; adjacent aisle will be kept empty. For Airbus A320 with a 3-3 seat configuration, the middle seats will be kept empty.
Air New Zealand may be the only airline which mandates social distancing thus far. Other airlines, such as Cathay Pacific, Virgin Australia and Delta, are offering the opportunity for passengers to move themselves to have an empty seat beside them. This request has to be made known to the ground staff or cabin crew as it may affect the weight and balance of the aircraft.
Besides social distancing, some other airlines are also introducing other tough measures.
For instance, Taiwan’s China Airlines and Eva Air have made temperature checks mandatory. Passengers with a temperature over 37.5-degrees celsius would be denied for boarding. In addition, all passengers must wear a mask on board at all times, except when served with food and drinks.