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How airlines are working to keep it clean amid coronavirus outbreak

July 25, 2020
4 min read
How airlines are working to keep it clean amid coronavirus outbreak
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.


As the travel industry reopens following COVID-19 shutdowns, TPG suggests that you talk to your doctor, follow health officials’ guidance and research local travel restrictions before booking that next trip. We will be here to help you prepare, whether it is next month or next year.

Coronavirus is having an outsize effect on the airline industry. Demand is down as corporations cut back on business travel, and vacationers increasingly keep it local amid fears of catching the disease.

To allay some travelers' fears, airlines are going out of their way to make sure their passengers know that the planes they'll travel on are sufficiently cleaned.

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Different airlines have taken different approaches to getting this info out, but the message across the board is the same: our planes are sanitary!

Related: Everything you need to know about traveling during the coronavirus outbreak.

However, a report from View From the Wing suggests that United Airlines may be having trouble following through all of its commitments on aircraft cleaning.

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

For example, the Chicago-based carrier is publicly saying as part of its CleanPlus program that all aircraft undergo electrostatic spraying before each departure. But the report states that such action is only taking place for planes stored overnight at its hubs and at bigger line stations.

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What's more problematic is that regional aircraft flown under the United Express brand are not following through with everything that the mainline places are doing, such as adopting procedural UVC cleaning standards.

Like all other carriers, United faces a cash crunch that threatens the jobs of 36,000 employees. Part of those job cuts will come from those leading the cleaning initiatives, CEO Scott Kirby publicly stating that he will encourage his team to "explore and implement new ideas, new technologies, new policies and new procedures."

Delta CEO Ed Bastian stated that a traveler's perception of safety at the airport and in-flight will drive travel demand more than anything else. Backing up his statement are the practices and procedures Delta continues to put in place to keep passengers safe, from the the time you check-in until you’re on your final walk out of the airport.

Related: We got an inside look at how Delta is cleaning planes between every flight

American Airlines now requires all flight attendants and passengers to wear face masks and hand them out to passengers as needed. The airline is also handing out sanitizing wipes to passengers where available, and will be deep cleaning between flights, including 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. Plus the airline expanded fogging with an EPA-registered hospital-grade disinfectant in all public areas on aircraft.

For Alaska Airlines, that meant posting a detailed video about how planes are cleaned between flights and overnight.

Southwest took a similar approach, posting a video on its website along with a written guide to its sanitation procedures.

United, American and Delta have all released statements outlining their cleaning procedures, with all three noting that they're adhering to updated guidance on airplane sanitation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They have also implemented policies mandating that all passengers wear masks aboard aircraft.

Related: American Airlines, Southwest now overtake Delta for the strictest mask policy in the US

International airlines, too, have taken steps to assure travelers of their cleanliness during the outbreak.

Meanwhile, airlines are embracing a PR strategy that highlights cleanliness and a focus on public health by instituting mandatory mask policies. In addition, they are highlighting flexible waivers and cancellations policies to encourage travelers to fly again.

Related: Why we need a mask mandate

Additional reporting by Brian Kim

Featured image by Economy seats on American Airlines Boeing 787-8. (Photo by Katie Genter / The Points Guy)

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  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
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Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
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  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

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  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023