American Airlines has announced that from May 1, 2020, all flight attendants will be required to wear face masks.
The masks will be required for flight attendants during every mainline and regional flight and the airline has added a drawer in the galley on every mainline flight containing personal protective equipment, including masks for flight attendants and pilots, and other sanitizing items.
Kurt Stache, Senior Vice President of Customer Experience, said
“Our team members on the frontline are truly going above and beyond during this time,” according to Stache. “Their commitment is nothing short of incredible and we will continue to work with them to make sure they have the equipment they need to feel safe.”
Like other airlines, American is emphasising its cleanliness and hygiene.
One of the reasons is that it is proving so difficult if not impossible to impose social distancing on aircraft.
In American’s case, it says its cleaning practices “have always met or exceeded all guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)”
“All American Airlines mainline aircraft and most of our regional aircraft are equipped with High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters. In addition, the cabin air in all of our aircraft is changed approximately 15 to 30 times per hour, or once every two to four minutes, similar to the standard for hospitals.”
Nevertheless, the airline is also introducing further cleaning beginning this week and expanding to every mainline and regional flight over time.
This cleaning will use a disinfectant approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and includes:
- In customer areas, tray tables, seatbelt buckles, armrests, window shades and seatback screens. It also includes wiping door and overhead bin handles.
- In team member areas, enhanced galley cleaning, jumpseats and crew rest seats. The new enhancements add cockpit surfaces as well.
These measures are in addition to the new and expanded cleaning procedures American added in early March, including additional touchpoints in the cabin, increased provisioning of hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes for crew members, and expanded fogging with an EPA-registered hospital-grade disinfectant in all public areas on aircraft. American is also expanding deeper cleanings and disinfection to all regional flights.
In early May, American will start the process of distributing sanitizing wipes or gels and face masks to customers. This offering will expand to all flights as supplies and operational conditions allow.
“We are looking out for our customers’ well-being to give them peace of mind while they travel with us,” said Stache. “We’re moving quickly on these enhancements and we’ll continue to improve the travel experience for our customers and team members as we navigate these times together.”
At the airport, American has expanded the frequency of cleaning the areas under its control including gate areas, ticket counters, passenger service counters, baggage service offices and team member rooms.
American is also using stanchions to encourage social distancing at gates and ticket counters.
Some computers and kiosks at ticket counters have been turned off to create more space between customers, and digital signs at gates promote health and safety while gate announcements discourage crowding at the gate.