Passengers travelling with Virgin Australia on domestic flights will be seated next to an empty seat as part of a new social distancing policy announced by the airline.

The Australian carrier said the new policy, which will be in place “until further notice”, will also include a simplified onboard menu offering to reduce contact between passengers and the airline’s crew. Complimentary water and a snack will be served to all passengers, and food and beverages will no longer be available for purchase onboard.

“We hope this new policy, along with the flexible booking options we are already giving travellers, instils confidence in people who are required to travel for essential reasons,” said Virgin Australia’s general manager of customer service delivery, Paul Woosnam.

Following a request by the Australian government last week, Virgin Australia and rival airline Qantas began operating some domestic flights to aid essential travel over the next two months.

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Virgin Australia said the new seating arrangements will be applied through the airline’s reservation system which can block seats between travelling parties.

Hand sanitiser and face masks are also available on all flight and “crew are highly trained to deal with guests who may be symptomatic” said the carrier.

Business Traveller Asia-Pacific has reached out to the airline for more details on its social distancing measures.

A number of carriers have begun practicing social distancing on flights in an effort to minimise contact among passengers and cabin crew amid the coronavirus pandemic. This often involves leaving the middle seat empty.

These airlines are social distancing