Social Distancing on AircraftBack to Forum
We are already seeing some examples of this with airlines leaving the middle seat empty but I would be more concerned about someone coughing or sneezing from directly behind or directly in front of me. Am I being paranoid?22 Apr 2020
IATA is saying one thing, see today’s Online news, but member AF made a “social distancing blunder” reports this Belgian aviation site.22 Apr 2020
I would be more concerned about someone coughing or sneezing from directly behind or directly in front of me. Am I being paranoid?
I think you are 100% correct to be concerned. As pointed in other threads, the HEPA filtered air on aircraft is about as pure as can be, and if you could spend the flight only breathing that air, your risk of infection would be extremely low.
The biggest danger area though is your passage to, through, and from the airport, on filthy transit buses/shuttles, using touchscreens, putting your stuff into grubby plastic bins at security, sitting on dirty seats, and a myriad of other vulnerable points.22 Apr 2020
As CapetonianM points out, the biggest problem is not being on a flight.
Although being seated on board a plane is part of the isolation challenge it seems that the bigger challenge will be boarding and leaving the plane. Airports are not big enough for 2 metre distancing. In a line of 120 passengers, for a single flight, that is around 0.25 kilometre line. 300 PAX at T5 would be impossible, or at least very challenging, to distance.
Leaving the plane will be row by row with all other passengers remaining seated. Can you see that happening? Can you imagine 300 people leaving a flight in an orderly manner?
The LCCs will go from 25 minute turn round to >1 hour turn round so will need bigger airports, and more stands needed. We could end up with a fleet of buses, 20 PAX per bus, and buses keeping 2 metre distancing:-)
Of course the resulting increase in fares will help to reduce demand.
Not quite in keeping with the title of this thread, but can you imagine embarking, and disembarking, 3,000 people from a cruise liner? Embarking is not so bad as 3,000 people = 3 km line assuming a Noah’s Ark principle, but how can you have a 3 km line to leave a ship? Some ships are bigger.
1 user thanked author for this post.22 Apr 2020
“Not quite in keeping with the title of this thread, but can you imagine embarking, and disembarking, 3,000 people from a cruise liner? Embarking is not so bad as 3,000 people = 3 km line assuming a Noah’s Ark principle, but how can you have a 3 km line to leave a ship? Some ships are bigger.”
Your description of the problems boarding/disembarking from aircraft is very throught provoking.
However, as a frequent “cruiser”, the problem you recount about cruise liners is not as extreme as you suggest. My experience is that embarkation is done over a 3 to 4 hour period, usually (in my experience) starting at around 11 am and ending around 3 pm. Similarly, disembarcation usually starts around 7 am and finishes around 10.30. Looking back at the process, getting a 2-meter gap between passengers would not be a problem.
What will be a mega problem is how to maintain social distancing during the cruise itself. I simply cannot imagine how this could be handled. Like planes, ships are not designed for social distancing – in fact, they are designed for exactly the opposite.22 Apr 2020
You know what, I suspect that social distancing might be an appropriate measure if travel begins within the next 2 to 3 months, but realistically beyond that time it’s totally economically unsustainable . And not just in the airline industry but elsewhere in the service industries.
Our economies will need to be kick started into action again,.
Inflating prices to make up for the lower yields will just put people off travelling .
And then if you add anti-social regulations into the mix, why would anybody spend money , when they can invite friends round and have a good time in their home.
Thus avoiding this sense of growing paranoia whenever you leave the safety of your home.
IMO, the continuation of social distancing will lock us into a downward spiral of total economic collapse.22 Apr 2020
We also “cruise” once or twice a year, usually on the bigger ships. Even on a modestly sized ship with 3,000 PAX a 3 hour 30 minute disembarkation (7AM to 10:30AM) is 1 PAX per 4.2 seconds or 857 per hour. Even down 2 gang planks it is difficult to see how this can happen with social distancing.
If social distancing must be maintained then maybe ships will need 2 days in port, one for disembarkation and deep cleaning, and the second for embarking passengers. The number of passengers could be reduced by closing all inside cabins, which may be more affordable than 2 full days in port.22 Apr 2020
To be fair, FaroFlyer, I avoid ships of the size of 3,000 PAX. We go for ships in the 1,000 to 2,000 range and my experience of these must be different to yours. Neither embarcation or disembarcation would be a problem with ships of this size (or smaller), in my opinion. I think you are correct about needing two days for the larger ships.
The problem comes elsewhere: pool areas on all ships are overcrowded already. Dining rooms would be a major problem, the ship’s theatre for shows would need to be reoconfigured and have to be pre-booked with limited acceptance of bookings. Card games, the library, the overcrowded gyms, spas, coffee bars etc etc. I just don’t see this happening. And, if the cruise lines restrict the number of PAX, the cruises would be totally uneconomic to run.
I think canucklad is correct. I have our next cruise booked for October and my wife and I don’t see it happening if social distancing is still the norm by then.22 Apr 2020
Hi ASK1945, we prefer the larger ships. I guess it is “horses for courses”, or “liners for cruisers”. We prefer the big hotels and pay the high price for a suite with private lounge, and dine in the speciality restaurants.
We had a cruise booked for mid June ex Barcelona on a ship capable of carrying > 6,000 pax, but to be fair there are only some joining in Barcelona, with most in Genoa. We cancelled last month and forfeited the deposit as I cannot see any way that social distancing could be maintained, certainly for port visits embarkation and disembarkation. They are still selling the cruise at prices higher than when we booked. We have another booked for next January ex Rio on a much smaller ship 1250 capacity. I am thinking of switching that to a Med cruise next summer. Fortunately we have booked flights on IB with Avios so can get a refund.
I see that MO’L says that Ryanair will continue to fill 2 x 3 seats and that it is up to passengers to wear gloves and masks. It would maybe make sense to let people buy the seat next to them to keep it free. It has been done before cost effectively for the passenger as there should be no airport departure taxes or fees. I would certainly pay this as, I suspect, would most forum members.22 Apr 2020
canucklad said, “You know what, I suspect that social distancing might be an appropriate measure if travel begins within the next 2 to 3 months, but realistically beyond that time it’s totally economically unsustainable . And not just in the airline industry but elsewhere in the service industries.”
You are absolutely right and this has been on my mind for a while now – and can I suggest not just on planes and elsewhere in the service industries, but everywhere in our crowded society – will we really have social distancing in school and university classrooms and lunch halls; in all kinds of shops and stores; on all subways, trains, and buses; in millions of workplaces; in all cinemas and churches; in court; in libraries; in sit-down restaurants and fast-food joints; at airport check-in areas and departure halls and gates; and in a hundred other places I haven’t mentioned. It’s easy for people to say “Well we have to do that” but in my view it is totally unsustainable.
In my opinion people just aren’t thinking and they’d better start thinking and realizing what it involves. Just my 2p. worth, thanks for listening.23 Apr 2020
Non-IATA member Ryanair won’t fly if middle seats must be kept vacant.
Another piece from the FT. I managed to avoid the paywall.23 Apr 2020
I can understand MoL’s reluctance and threat.. To keep the middle seat free would mean increasing airfares, which would in turn mean many of the travellers who use his flights for cheap travel would cut back or even eliminate their travel altogether, giving lower flight loads or cutting flights altogether.
If the legacy airlines who also have a Business class, implement this, why would you pay extra for a business class seat, the main benefit being the middle seat is free?
As for paying for the middle seat to be kept free, and I’ll not name the airline here, but it’s all Economy, I frequently do this when with Mrs. LP as it is more comfortable. Once I travelled alone and for the extra comfort paid for the middle seat to be free. No taxes etc it was a discount of about 35% to my ticket. Pax in 3c turns up and greets me and I tell him no worries, as I’ve paid for the middle seat to be free. He looked surprised and then said he’d done the same!! We both laughed and jokingly made a “frontier” on the seat but did remark that if this was their policy they could theoretically have a 133% flight load.
1 user thanked author for this post.23 Apr 2020
MartynSinclairParticipant23 Apr 2020
Travellers using budget airlines tend to have no brand loyalty. If EZY ended up with not selling the middle seat its fares would have to rise.
Back in the IATA era (at a time when this trade body had real teeth and there were no LCCs) the rule could be implemented.
But today ?
1 user thanked author for this post.23 Apr 2020
We have a few pieces on this which I will keep updated.23 Apr 2020