American Airlines will require masks for flight attendants, and unveils other new anti-coronavirus measures
American Airlines is announcing major new initiatives to combat COVID-19 going forward. In a press release late Monday, AA said it was determined to keep passengers and crew safe as coronavirus spreads.
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AA will be requiring all flight attendants to wear face masks starting May 1, and hand them out to passengers as well. The airline is also handing out sanitizing wipes to passengers where available, and will be deep cleaning between flights. American said new procedures will begin as soon as this week and will rollout to all mainline flights in the next few weeks.
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The airline said the same deep cleaning policies already in place for long-haul flights will be used on all flights. This includes the use of strong disinfectants approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Tray tables, handles, seatbelt buckles, armrests, seatback screens, overhead bins, window shades, and other surfaces will get disinfected. Crew areas will also be cleaned more thoroughly under the new policies.
Back in March, AA expanded fogging with an EPA-registered hospital-grade disinfectant in all public areas on aircraft.
The airline has also previously relaxed its seating policies. It now allows customers to move within their ticketed cabin as long as it doesn't create any weight or balance issues. The airline has blocked at least half of its middle seats and seats around the flight attendant jump seats. Inflight service has also been cut.
American said it is also expanding deeper cleanings and disinfection to all regional flights.
Kurt Stache, Senior Vice President of Customer Experience said in a press release, “We are looking out for our customers’ well-being to give them peace of mind while they travel with us. We’re moving quickly on these enhancements and we’ll continue to improve the travel experience for our customers and team members as we navigate these times together.”
Delta Air Lines also said it was requiring flight attendants to wear masks and begin handing them out to passengers. JetBlue announced a similar policy and will also soon require passengers to wear masks.
Related: American accelerates Boeing 757, 767 retirements due to coronavirus
Traffic has collapsed for airlines as coronavirus has spread around the world. Passenger traffic is down by more than 90% for many airlines and airports. AA had previously announced it was cutting most of its long-haul flying and its domestic route has also been dramatically scaled back.