Airlines for America, the industry trade organization, has launched a “Fly Healthy. Fly Smart.” campaign aimed at countering criticism of the industry’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic by educating travelers about the enhanced cleaning and procedural changes.
The campaign includes an infographic, video, blog posts, social media engagement and an updated web page at AirlinesTakeAction.com. According to Nicholas Calio, CEO of A4A, since the onset of the health crisis, carriers have been taking substantial, proactive steps – in many instances exceeding Centers for Disease Control guidance – to protect passengers and employees.
All member airlines have aircraft equipped with HEPA filters, which help generate hospital-grade air quality. In a statement, the airline trade group cited a CDC report that noted, “Because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes, most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights.”
According to the announcement, only 8.5 percent of current US flights are more than 70 percent full, and 73 percent are less than half full. However according to recent statement from the Transportation Security Administration, that may be changing.
Last week, The TSA has released a series of new directives aimed to direct the increasingly recovering traveling public from falling ill from Covid-19. According to TSA administrator David Pekoske, the new rules are intended to “limit physical contact and increase physical distance as much as possible.”
In perhaps the most telling point in the statement, the agency urged passengers to arrive at the airport earlier to allow more time than had been allotted during the height of national shutdowns.
“Individuals who were traveling in the early months of the pandemic became accustomed to arriving at the security checkpoint shortly before their flight departure time,” the statement says. “TSA recommends that travelers no longer do so (or arrive well in advance of their flight) since more people are flying and new procedures such as social distancing have been implemented in airports, potentially adding time to the pre-flight experience.”
Takeaway for travelers and industry analysts: The empty airports and flights with only a handful of passengers are increasingly becoming a thing of the recent past. Despite the uncertainties, more people are flying and more people are going to fly throughout the summer as recovery efforts take hold.