Airlines are starting to step up their games in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus, and to protect their own employees. United Airlines just confirmed that it will start handing out face masks to its customers as of early May. Flight attendants for the airline are also required to wear masks.
Starting May 1, American Airlines will also start handing out masks to all passengers. American will also offer either sanitizing gel or wipes to all passengers. Much like with United, American flight attendants must also start wearing masks. Since late March, flight attendants on American have been able to use masks if they chose to do so.
United, for its part, wants to do more than just hand out masks. The carrier is enhancing cabin sanitation, reducing onboard contact and trying to minimize social distancing both at the airport and on the plane. One of United's main competitors, American, promised to clean planes even more thoroughly between flights. At the airport, American has been cleaning stanchions and kiosks much more frequently.
JetBlue is taking it further with masks. Starting Monday, May 4, JetBlue passengers will be required to wear face masks. This will make it the only airline in the United States requiring passengers to wear face masks. However, if the virus continues to linger for a long time, other airlines are sure to follow JetBlue's lead. JetBlue crewmembers were already required to put on face masks when working.
Delta is now requiring all employees who aren't able to maintain at least six feet between themselves and a customer, business partner or another employee, wear a mask. The airline also said that it encourages travelers to wear masks as well and will offer them at ticket counters and at the gates, as well as on flights. Dubai-based Emirates has already required its passengers to wear face masks throughout their journey.