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United Airlines Implements Safer Travel Procedures

Jill Weinlein

United has flown more than 1,000 medical volunteers for free; donated 170,000 pounds of food; used their fleet to get close to 20,000 stranded people home; and transport medical supplies to the places that need them the most. 

The airline company is passionate about connecting the world safely, and ensuring that passengers and employees stay safe at the airport, before takeoff and after landing. The airline is working closely with international and U.S. agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to protect the well-being of each customer and employee. They are implementing the most up-to-date recommendations regarding sanitation and social distancing. 

According to Toby Enqvist, Chief Customer Officer of United Airlines, safety has always been United's top priority, so United Airlines' new social distancing and cleaning procedures will become a new way of life and travel. 

When travelers are ready to fly, they will notice a lot of changes at the airport and onboarding a United aircraft. United is the only U.S. airline with a full-time, on-site medical director. Being on the front lines of the COVID-19 outbreak, this medical professional is providing counsel to the company and to employees around the world. 

Courtesy of United

First, at the airport, enhanced signage will be in both customer and employee spaces, including a 6 ft. tape rule at ticket counters to provide minimal contact between agents and customers. 

There will soon be sneeze guards at key interaction points including check-in counters and gate podiums. As an extra precaution, employees' temperatures will be taken before they start work to protect the well-being of passengers and United colleagues.

Courtesy of United

United is requiring all employees to wear face coverings including flight attendants, front-line workers, pilots, customer service agents and ramp workers when onboard an aircraft, along with any other United employees traveling. Starting May 4, United is providing face covering for free to each passenger not wearing one. 

They are also automatically blocking middle seats to give passengers enough space on board. The new seating arrangement offers limiting seat selections in all cabins. Customers may be able to select seats next to each other by contacting United for reseating options. They are planning to alternate window and aisle seats when seats are in pairs. Passengers will board from the back of the plane to the front by rows, to avoid crowding in the gate area, on the jet bridge and in the aisle. 

Courtesy of United

United is implementing new state-of-the-art sanitization procedures. Aircraft is cleaned with electrostatic sprayers on all inbound long-haul international flights, and mainline overnight aircraft at our U.S. hubs. Starting in June, all aircraft will have electrostatic spray on every departure, in addition to disinfecting customer touchpoints and surfaces before every flight. The cleaning procedure for flights includes a thorough wipe down using an effective, high-grade disinfectant and multi-purpose cleaning of lavatories, galleys, tray tables, window shades and armrests.

Each mainline aircraft has a state-of-the-art circulation system, using a high-efficiency (HEPA) filter, similar to those found in hospitals, to circulate the air and removes up to 99.7% of airborne particles.

To minimize onboard contact, United is changing the current food service and temporarily removing onboard items. To hand snacks and beverages to customers, the flight attendants will offer pre-packaged foods and sealed beverages. United is suspending buy-on-board items, hot towel service and pick-up pans to collect trash.

United is providing flexibility to passengers to enable changes in travel plans for the future. Customers now have until May 31, 2020, to make changes to, or cancel, any travel they have booked through the end of the year without change fees. Electronic travel certificates are now valid for 24 months from the date they were issued.

Jill Weinlein

Los Angeles based Jill Weinlein covers travel, food and lifestyle destinations for multiple newspapers, magazines and websites. Her areas of expertise include, luxury travel, culinary reviews, cruising and family travel destinations. Born in Los Angeles, Jill studied Communications and Theatre Arts at UCLA. She has a a Dine and Travel blog - www.dineandtravel.me and she writes a weekly restaur...(Read More)

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