American Airlines stops handing out sanitizing wipes, cites supply chain

Jan 19, 2022

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A pandemic-era staple of the onboard flight experience is suffering from supply chain issues.

Because of limited stock, American Airlines is no longer proactively handing out sanitizing wipes to customers as they board the aircraft. These wipes are now available by request only, as confirmed by a carrier spokesperson.

At the outset of the pandemic, all the major airlines were quick to market new cleaning campaigns, which included a focus on HEPA filters, mask requirements and enhanced sanitization measures between flights and during overnight downtime.

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For the Big 3 U.S. airlines, these programs — dubbed the American Clean Commitment, Delta CareStandard and United CleanPlus — included a sanitizing wipe for customers to use when they got to their seats.

Of course, as we’ve learned more about how the coronavirus is transmitted, much of the focus has turned to mask mandates and hospital-grade filtration to minimize the spread of this airborne virus.

(Photo courtesy of American Airlines)

Nevertheless, the airlines continued handing out these sanitizing wipes, perhaps as a way for passengers to put a physical touch on the cleaning experience.

Yet now, American is pulling back on these wipes due to supply chain issues. In a statement shared with TPG, American implied that it’ll bring back the wipes once the shortages ease up.

Global supply chain issues resulting from the pandemic are impacting industries everywhere, including American Airlines. We are experiencing product shortages of sanitizer wipes, which we will now offer by request, rather than provide to every customer during boarding. Our Clean Commitment procedures such as enhanced cleaning onboard, HEPA filters, and the federal mask requirements remain in place. We hope the supply chain slowdown improves and are thankful for our understanding customers throughout this time.

Sanitizing wipes aren’t the only things in short supply on planes these days. In recent months, we’ve seen carriers suffer from shortages regarding onboard catering. In some cases, American flights from its mega-hub in Dallas/Fort Worth were departing without ice. Others were missing food entirely.

Turns out, the Fort Worth-based carrier isn’t alone in scaling back its cleaning and health procedures recently.

(Photo courtesy of American Airlines)

Last summer, United Airlines scrapped its social distancing mandate during deplaning, which previously required passengers to exit the aircraft in groups of five rows at a time. The airline also stopped electrostatically spraying its jets before every flight, and instead started applying a once-weekly Zoono antimicrobial surface treatment throughout its fleet.

Either way — whether it’s backed in science or due to product shortages — the pandemic-era flight experience is looking a bit more like “normal.”

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

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