Qatar Airways, which has been extremely proactive about requiring cabin staff to wear protective personal equipment, is now going a step further in its requirements for passengers as well. Apart from requiring face masks and providing new protective kits with masks, gloves and alcohol based sanitizer, the airline is now requiring and providing face shields, the type usually seen on medical personnel. The clear, disposable shields are available in two sizes including one for children featuring the Oryx Kids Club mascot and will be distributed at check in at the airline’s hub Hamad International Airport in Doha or at the boarding gates in other destinations. The crew is also being issued new protective gowns fitted over their uniforms, safety glasses, gloves and masks.
“Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, the safety of our passengers has been our highest priority,” explains Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker. “By introducing these additional onboard safety and hygiene measures, our customers can rely on us and our unparalleled expertise to fly them safely to their destination. As the largest international airline flying consistently throughout the pandemic, we have become one of the most experienced in safety and hygiene. We will continue to lead the industry in terms of the services offered to our passengers, so that they can travel with confidence.”
All passengers are required to wear the face shields during boarding and disembarking. Economy class passengers are required to wear the face shields throughout the flight except when being served meals and drinks. Business Class passengers have more flexibility because of their additional space and privacy particularly in aircraft equipped with the enclosed Qsuites allowing passengers to close the suite doors and put on a “Do Not Disturb” sign to limit interaction. Business class meals have also been modified to be served all at once on a tray instead of as multiple courses and single use menu cards have been introduced. Intensive cleaning procedures on aircraft and at the airport in Doha have also been introduced including the sanitizing of all airport passenger touch points every 10-15 minutes.
These measures come as the airline prepares to resume nearly two thirds of its pre-COVID-19 flight schedule by the end of July. Yesterday, flights resumed daily to Bali, five times a week to Washington D.C. and Boston (increasing to daily on August 1st), three times a week to Los Angeles (increasing to five times a week on July 17th and six times a week on August 1st) and Berlin three times a week, among others. By mid July, the airline expects to fly to 65 destinations.