Alaska Airlines updates inflight procedures in an effort to keep passengers safe

Mar 3, 2020

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On a flight yesterday on Alaska Airlines from San Francisco to Newark, a flight attendant curtly refused my request for a refill of water. At first I thought she was too busy, but later another flight attendant told me they were no longer refilling glasses in an effort to prevent “cross-contamination.”

It’s just one part of several new policies and procedures Alaska Airlines has put into place to try and prevent the spread of disease, including the COVID-19 virus (novel coronavirus) currently spreading around the world.

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Coach meal on a SFO to EWR flight with no refills as part of new safety procedures.
A coach meal on a San Francisco to Newark flight was served with no water refills as part of new safety procedures. (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy.)

In-depth: What does the coronavirus outbreak mean for travelers?

In an updated blog post on what the airline is doing to prevent the spread of the deadly disease, Alaska Airlines says it has “always had robust cleaning processes on our aircraft and will continue using disinfectants that are effective against viruses. We’re also working closely with health experts from the University of Washington and following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control to help keep our people and guests safe.”

Alaska Airlines jet at gates at Portland Airport (PDX) on Feb. 28, 2020. (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)
An Alaska Airlines jet at the gate at Portland Airport (PDX) on Feb. 28, 2020. (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy.)

Among the measures Alaska is now putting into place:

  • Enhanced aircraft cleaning between flights
  • Ending drink refills, temporarily
  • Some flight attendants may wear gloves
  • Suspending warm towel service in first class
  • Temporarily ending onboard recycling
  • Ending use of fingerprint entry at lounges
  • Deploying hand sanitizer at gates and lounges

Alaska had previously announced it was waiving change and cancellation fees on all flights between Feb. 27 and March 12 for travel through June 1, 2020. You can go to Alaska Airlines for complete guidance on changes and cancellations.

Related: Some airlines cut back on inflight service to combat coronavirus. Will those changes stick?

Comprehensive guide: Coronavirus waivers and cancellations at U.S. airlines

In Europe: Coronavirus update: European airlines suspend Italy operations, offer waivers and changes

Full coverage: Complete guide to The Points Guy coverage of the deadly coronavirus

Featured photo of an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-800 at Portland Airport PDX Feb 28, 2020 by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy.

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