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COVID-19: How U.S. Carriers Are Working to Protect Travelers

U.S. carriers are following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and sharing about their enhanced cleaning and disinfecting procedures to help contain and stop the spread of COVID-19, such as through aircraft circulation systems.

Each of the below carriers have aircraft that are equipped with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, which clean the air.

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines has enhanced aircraft cleaning between flights and utilizing disinfectants that are effective against viruses in addition to regularly scheduled cleanings. An enhanced aircraft cleaning process has been implemented for flights on the ground longer than an hour at Alaska hubs, and flights that remain overnight receive additional cleaning. Frequently touched surfaces such as arm rests, seat belts, tray tables, overhead controls, light buttons and door handles also receive additional treatment. The safety of guests and employees is Alaska’s top priority.

American Airlines

American’s aircraft are cleaned at key touchpoints throughout the day with an EPA-approved disinfectant, and all of their aircraft also undergo a deep cleaning procedure on a regularly scheduled basis. International flights and aircraft with additional time on the ground receive a detailed 30-point cleaning package each day, and the airline is enhancing cleaning procedures on international flights and aircraft that remain overnight at airports. That enhanced procedure includes cleaning all hard surfaces, including tray tables and armrests.

Delta Air Lines

All Delta aircraft are cleaned with a high-grade, EPA-registered disinfectant, which is used on common surface areas in galleys and lavatories. A 19-point checklist is used for transoceanic flights, including disinfecting seats, seatback pockets, tray tables and floors. Delta has also expanded its cleaning procedures to include aircraft fogging, which uses a high-grade disinfectant that is highly effective against communicable diseases to disinfects surface areas in aircraft. Additionally, airport kiosks are disinfected multiple times a day, and Delta has increased the cleaning schedule of gate areas. Hand sanitizer is also available at ticket counters, boarding gates, Need Help Centers, Baggage Service Offices and Sky Clubs for all employees and customers.

Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian thoroughly cleans the cabins of its aircraft with disinfectants that effectively kill most viruses, including COVID-19, after each transpacific flight. Interisland aircraft are cleaned after every flight into Honolulu and disinfected nightly. Hand sanitizer is more broadly available throughout Hawaiian’s airport lobbies and offices, and counters and self-service kiosks are wiped down frequently. Additionally, Hawaiian will begin offering disposable sanitizing wipes on mid-and long-haul flights beginning Saturday, March 14.

JetBlue Airways

JetBlue has increased aircraft cleaning each night and are utilizing disinfectant that is effective against coronavirus across frequently touched surfaces, such as tray tables, seat covers, armrests and seatbelts. Hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes are more widely available throughout terminals as well as on board, and common surface areas are disinfected more frequently. Hot towel service has also been suspended temporarily. JetBlue is taking measures aligned with recommendations from global health authorities and have activated a special response team to monitor the situation in real time.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest aircraft receive more than six hours of cleaning every night. Technicians use an EPA-approved, hospital grade disinfectant on touchpoints throughout the passenger cabin, such as seatbelt buckles, touch buttons, seat surfaces, tray tables and armrests. This video highlights Southwest’s enhanced cleaning.

United Airlines

United aircraft are cleaned at various touchpoints throughout the day. Any hard surface touched by customers and employees—including lavatories, galleys, tray tables, window shades and armrests—receive a thorough wipe-down with a high-grade disinfectant and multi-purpose cleaner. If an employee or customer is potentially exhibiting coronavirus symptoms, the aircraft is taken out of service and sent through a full decontamination process. United will also begin using an electrostatic fogger to disinfect the air and surfaces within the cabin of all international arrivals into its U.S. hubs, Honolulu and Guam.

Individuals are encouraged to listen to medical experts and heed their guidance. Following these basic protective measures from the World Health Organization and CDC is also encouraged:

  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, hands and mouth.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when coughing or sneezing.

Airlines continue to work collaboratively with the Administration, CDC, HHS, DOT, DHS and other federal agencies to prioritize the health, safety and wellbeing of travelers. Additional information can be found at individual carrier website and at www.AirlinesTakeAction.com.

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