- Qantas has revealed its COVID-19 safety measures for when domestic travel starts to resume.
- Under its “Fly Well” program, passengers on Qantas and Jetstar flights will be given face masks and asked to limit movement in the cabin once they’re seated.
- Contactless check-in will also be recommended.
- Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.
Qantas is preparing for when domestic travel resumes around the country by rolling out guidelines for how its flights will operate.
Qantas Group revealed its “Fly Well” program, a range of improvements on Qantas and Jetstar flights to ensure a safe travel environment when domestic travel resumes.
The company has been hit hard by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, suspending all international flights and slashing around 60% of domestic flights. The airline stood down around 20,000 staff as restrictions on travel began to bite the industry.
The guidelines for domestic travel on Qantas and Jetstar flights
Before the flight, the airlines will send information to passengers about what to expect. Passengers will be encouraged to use contactless check-ins – whether online or via an app – and use a self serve bag drop off. There will also be hand sanitising stations at departure gates.
On board, masks will be given to all passengers and while they won’t be mandatory, Qantas is recommending them to give everyone on board some peace of mind. And you’ll have to limit moving around the cabin once you’re seated.
There will also be more cleaning on high-contact areas like seats, overhead lockers and seatbelts, with cleaning wipes offered to passengers if they want to clean any areas themselves. Plus, there will be “sequenced” boarding and disembarking from the plane to reduce crowding.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said in a statement “safety is absolutely core to how we operate.”
“From the early rescue flights we operated right into Wuhan and then more recently bringing Australians back from places like the US and Europe, we have a lot of experience at creating a safe cabin environment for passengers and crew,” he said.
“We’re relying on the cooperation of passengers to help make these changes work for everyone’s benefit, and we thank them in advance for that. Given the great job Australians have done at flattening the curve, we’re confident they’ll respond positively to these temporary changes to how we fly.”
More disinfection and hygiene screens
There are also measures for other parts of the airports. Qantas lounges will enforce physical distancing, there will be more disinfection at security screening points and hygiene screens will be placed at customer service desks where possible.
All planes have hospital-grade filters to remove particles like viruses and their air is refreshed roughly every five minutes during a flight. Airline staff will have to follow strict personal hygiene protocols, while passengers will be encouraged to download the government’s COVIDSafe app.
Qantas Group Medical Director Dr Ian Hosegood said in a statement there is a low risk of contracting coronavirus from flights.
“The data shows that actual risk of catching coronavirus on an aircraft is already extremely low,” he said. “That’s due to a combination of factors, including the cabin air filtration system, the fact people don’t sit face-to-face and the high backs of aircraft seats acting as a physical barrier.
“As far as the virus goes, an aircraft cabin is a very different environment to other forms of public transport.”
Hosegood added that social distancing on flights isn’t as practical as it is on the ground.
“Given the low transmission risk on board, we don’t believe it’s necessary in order to be safe. The extra measures we’re putting place will reduce the risk even further,” he said.
When to start booking flights
You can start booking domestic flights with Qantas or Jetstar between May 21 and June 30, 2020 for travel between June 12 and October 31. And, if you decide to change your mind, the airline will waive your change fee once.
If you’ve got an existing booking for an international flight between August 1 and October 31 2020 you can cancel it and receive a travel credit. Qantas credits must be requested by June 30 and are valid up until December 31, 2021. Jetstar credits are valid for up to two years from the date of issue.
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