From Masks to Cleaning, How Each U.S. Airline Handles Safety During Coronavirus
airlines safety coronavirus

From Masks to Cleaning, How Each U.S. Airline Handles Safety During Coronavirus

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Mandatory masks. Empty seats. Boarding from front-to-back. Deep cleaning and spraying between each flight.

Coronavirus didn’t just decimate travel – it has changed the entire flying experience, at least for now. Many airlines across the globe have implemented new safety and cleanliness measures to convince flyers to combat the spread of coronavirus and convince flyers to return to the sky.

But there are few overarching requirements in the U.S., and every airline is handling it differently. Some carriers are doing the bare minimum (or close to it), while others have made safety the cornerstone of their coronavirus playbook. It’s difficult to know what you may find on your next flight.

The Seattle Times took an in-depth look at each of the 10 largest U.S. airlines’ safety and cleanliness procedures and boiled it down into a simple-to-understand chart.

Chart from the Seattle Times

As you can tell, just what you’ll find onboard will depend heavily on which airline you’re flying.

  • Delta and Alaska Airlines clearly stand out on this list. Delta is emphasizing safety more than almost any carrier by blocking middle seats on all flights through at least Sept. 30 and boarding from back-to-front. JetBlue and Alaska are doing the same, though they’re only blocking middle seats only through July 6 and July 31, respectively.
  • Southwest is a bit different, as the airline doesn’t assign seats but allows travelers to pick on a first-come, first-served basis. But the airline is effectively blocking middle seats by capping ticket sales on each flight.
  • All airlines except for Allegiant are requiring passengers to wear masks in-flight, but whether airlines will actually enforce this requirement is another question. Airlines have promised to step up by threatening to ban passengers who refuse from future flights – American Airlines even kicked a passenger off last week. But other airlines including Delta and United say they won’t remove passengers.
  • It may not catch all coronavirus cases, but Frontier Airlines is the only carrier currently screening passengers for high temperatures.
  • Budget carriers Allegiant and Spirit aren’t cleaning planes between every flight, while the rest of the major U.S. airlines are doing so.


Bottom Line

While safety and cleanliness are front-and-center as more Americans start flying, there are plenty of differences between what that means on each airline.

What airline stands out most to you? Who are you most willing to fly with now?


Lead photo courtesy of Delta via Flickr

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1 Responses

  • Hi Kyle, My husband just took 4 Southwest flights, and almost no one
    was wearing masks on the plane. Even though they made an
    announcement on each flight–no one was enforcing it. He’s furious, as he
    was flying to and from Florida on business. He wrote to WN,
    but of course, no answer.

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