What does flying safe mean during the COVID-19 outbreak? We’ve created resources to help you get back to business travel in a way that promotes health.
Travel is the lifeblood of many companies. Without the opportunity to meet with existing clients and to make proposals to potential clients, the business of doing business grinds to a halt. Things are more complicated during the COVID-19 outbreak. So what does flying safe in 2020 and beyond look like?
At JTB Business Travel, we have created a hub of information that you can use as a go-to reference guide for questions related to COVID-19 and its impact on business travel. A big part of the information found on this hub is a series of webinars geared toward restoring business Traveler confidence that shares insights from leading airlines and other travel vendors.
See below for some of the helpful tips and details shared by major air carriers, Star Alliance Airlines, Air France, KLM, Lufthansa and many others, during our webinar series on flying safe and confident.
When is it OK to Fly?
The biggest question that companies and their traveling employees are asking: When is it OK to fly for business? The short answer is that it’s OK right now. Airlines are operating, and any passenger can browse flight options and purchase a ticket. Of course, things are slightly more complicated as COVID-19 continues to linger around the world.
To decide whether or not a business trip is OK, ask the following 3 questions:
- Has the company provided permission?
- Is the employee agreeable to travel?
- Do the departure and destination governments allow travel?
If the answer to any of these 3 questions is “no,” it’s best to delay the trip until the answer to each question is “yes.”
What are Airlines Doing to Ensure Health and Safety?
It’s always been easy to pick up a virus when spending time in airports and on airlines. But, during the spread of COVID-19, airports and airlines have started taking dramatic measures to ensure that operations can continue without risk to employees and passengers. The following are measures that many airports and airlines are taking right now to promote health and wellness during travel.
At the airport:
- Airports are constantly disinfecting common surfaces and promoting social distancing with floor decals.
- Airlines are allowing touchless check-in in many cases, and passengers will find sneeze guards at service desks.
- Both airport and airlines employees are going through temperature checks before starting shifts.
- The TSA is allowing passengers to take a 12-ounce hand sanitizer through security.
- In most cases, fewer passengers are boarding at a single time.
- Many passengers are allowed to scan their own boarding passes (rather than handing a phone or paper copy to an agent).
- Many airlines are giving passengers sanitizing wipes as they board planes.
- Both in-flight workers and passengers are required to wear masks in almost all cases. (Is this legal and enforceable? See our article on safety masks.)
- Airlines are finding creative ways to reduce contact between crews and passengers, including prepackaged foods rather than traditional meal service.
- Many airlines have upgraded to high-powered HEPA filters for cleaner cabin air.
- Many airlines have created batch deplaning processes in which only a few rows depart at a time.
- Some airlines are also using electrostatic sprayers to disinfect both cabin air and surfaces.
- If and when an employee or passenger tests positive for COVID-19, airlines are taking action to sanitize planes (including taking them out of service for deep cleaning).
In an effort to be proactive in the era of coronavirus, airlines are entering into creative partnerships to better ensure passenger health and safety. United, for example, has launched its CleanPlus commitment. This program includes a partnership with Clorox to ensure the cleanliness and sanitization of all United planes, as well as a partnership with health experts from the Cleveland Clinic who provide advice and guidance on best practices. Other airlines are taking similar actions to promote cleanliness, health and safety so that it’s safe to fly.
If you’re looking for a silver lining during the COVID-19 pandemic, consider this: The new emphasis on safety, health and cleanliness is a good thing, with or without coronavirus. Measures taken to stop the spread of COVID-19 are likely to stick around in the future long after the pandemic ends. This should help business Travelers avoid colds, the flu and other maladies for years to come.
Get the COVID-19 Information You Need for Travel
At JTB Business Travel, we are committed to helping our clients make the most of their travel programs, no matter the circumstances. During the COVID-19 outbreak, that means providing helpful, relevant and timely information that helps companies, Executives, Travel Managers and Travelers make the best decisions about upcoming trips.