Qatar Airways has adapted its health and safety measures onboard by introducing new personal protective equipment for both customers and cabin crew, which increase the protection for passengers and bring the crew protection in line with (if not more than) other global airlines. The airline’s latest measures include offering face shields (rather than masks) and protective kits to all passengers, in addition to a new more measured protective gown for cabin crew.
The disposable face shield is the first of its kind offered by airlines, and will be available in two standard sizes – one for adults and the other for children. In a similar approach to easyJet who have made the masks more appealing to children, Qatar’s child face shields feature the airline’s Oryx Kids Club mascots as part of their design. Passengers travelling from Hamad International Airport (HIA) will receive their face shields at the check-in counters, whereas at other destinations, the face shields will be distributed at the boarding gates.
Onboard, all Qatar Airways passengers will be provided with a complimentary protective kit. Inside this ziplock pouch passengers will find a single-use surgical face mask, large disposable powder-free gloves and an alcohol-based hand sanitiser gel. Business Class customers will also be offered an additional 75ml sanitiser gel tube making it one of the most comprehensive amenity approaches by any airline.
Qatar Airways has also introduced new disposable protective gowns for cabin crew that are fitted over their uniforms, in addition to safety glasses, gloves and a mask. The new branded gowns are personalised with Qatar Airways’ logo imprinted on the top left corner. These are a huge improvement on the rather alarming body suits Qatar was using temporarily.
Interestingly the airline has opted for two rules for passengers depending on their travel class. While economy passengers are required to wear their face shield visor in addition to their face mask or covering throughout the flight, (except when they are served their meals or drinks), Business Class customers are asked to wear their face shield and mask onboard at their own discretion, as they enjoy more space and privacy.
Parents flying with children should advise them to keep wearing their PPE throughout the journey, although children under two years of age are not advised to wear face shields and face masks or coverings . During boarding and disembarkation, all passengers will be required to wear their face mask or covering as well as the face shield.
Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, Qatar has taken a fairly normalised approach to customer service onboard. Business Class meals are served covered on a tray instead of a table set up, and a cutlery wrap is offered to passengers as an alternative to individual cutlery service, in an effort to minimise contact between crew and passengers. Qatar Airways has also introduced single-use menu cards and sealed refreshing wipes. Economy Class meals and cutlery are served sealed as usual, and menu cards have been temporarily discontinued.
The airline is being pragmatic in approach. all of Qatar’s onboard linen and blankets are washed, dried and pressed at microbial lethal temperatures, while its headsets are rigorously sanitised after each flight. These items are then sealed into individual packaging by staff wearing hygienic disposable gloves.
Qatar has already been very vocal in it’s approach to protecting crew and they have received training on how to minimise their chances of contracting or spreading the infection, are thermally screened before the departure of flights and after their arrival, and are quarantined and tested if any colleagues or passengers on a flight shows any symptoms of infection or test positive for the virus.
In addition, HIA has implemented stringent cleaning procedures and applied social distancing measures throughout its terminals. All passenger touchpoints are sanitized every 10-15 minutes and every boarding gate and bus gate counter is cleaned after each flight. In addition, hand sanitisers are provided at immigration and security screening points. Could Qatar have one of the most comprehensive Covid approaches in the skies? Time and bookings will tell!