Blade now requiring pre-flight COVID-19 testing for scheduled jet flights
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In the days of coronavirus, change seems to be constant. As the situation evolves, travel companies are continuously making adjustments to their safety and sanitary procedures. Airlines have started to fill middle seats again, airport lounges are reopening and inflight food and drink service is resuming. Now, Blade — provider of helicopter and jet service between popular destination spots — has become the latest travel company to revamp its coronavirus health and safety protocol, which was originally introduced earlier this year.
With the resumption of scheduled BLADEone jet service to Miami and Aspen, and the launch of shared “FlightTilt” charters, Blade has announced that it has adopted new safety procedures. Blade is now offering and requiring pre-flight COVID-19 testing for scheduled jet service within the U.S.
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Specifically, Blade is now requiring pre-flight COVID-19 testing for all passengers, cabin attendants and Blade lounge employees for all shared jet flights. Blade says that it’s the first company to require pre-flight testing domestically, though some commercial airlines like United have already been trialing pre-flight testing on select international routes.
The testing (administered prior to check-in) is performed on-site by CrowdRX, a division of Global Medical Response. Pricing starts at $150, but passengers can choose to be tested by their own provider if they prefer.
“BLADE was the first aviation company to require mandatory blood oxygen saturation and temperature screening for all of its flights starting back in March,” Melissa Tomkiel, General Counsel and President of Fixed Wing at Blade said in a release. “Testing was always on our timeline for our shared jet services. Now that we are satisfied with the safety, reliability, and ease of our testing program, it has been integrated into our pre-boarding protocols.”
This new requirement is in addition to all of the other precautions Blade is taking, including testing the oxygen levels of all passengers, pilots and staff, as well as their body temperatures, prior to boarding.
Passengers are required to have at least 95% blood oxygen saturation; anything less can be a cause for concern. Doctors have reported that critically ill COVID-19 patients have had oxygen levels as low as 50%, according to NPR.
Blade is also still requiring all passengers, pilots and staff to wear face masks at all times except dining. Pilots and staff are also required to wear sanitary gloves.
Like many commercial airlines, Blade has also made seating adjustments to maintain social distancing onboard.
For those flying a Blade seaplane or jet, each passenger will have his or her own window seat with the aisle seats empty to create space between passengers. Bench seating has also been eliminated, but can be requested by two individuals flying together.
If you are taking a shorter commute aboard a Blade helicopter, you’ll notice that the middle seat has been blocked.
On BLADEone flights to Miami and Aspen, meals are served fully covered. Additionally, lavatories onboard are sanitized after each use.
Additional reporting by Liz Hund
Featured photo courtesy of Blade.
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