Flying has changed forever.
Mandatory face masks, hand sanitizer stations, physically distanced queues and automated baggage tags are just a few of the measures airlines have rolled out in the wake of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Amongst the raft of revised rules and procedures, which often vary between countries, airports and airlines, getting to grips with flying in the new normal can be daunting. That’s why we’ve scoured the websites and press releases of 16 top international airlines for the latest guidelines, so you don’t have to.
Ryanair's simple guidelines for healthy flying
covers the Dublin-based airlines' new measures in place to protect the health of their passengers, including advice from an immunology expert and a video outlining the benefits of face masks
easyJet requires their passengers, as well as their crew and ground teams, to wear a suitable protective face mask. This applies to the boarding process and throughout all easyJet flights. Boarding will be denied to those who arrive at the gate without one, with only children under six, and those with a valid medical reason (supported by a letter from a medical practitioner) exempt.
Norwegian is asking passengers to check entry and transit requirements well in advance of travel. In some cases, it’s necessary to complete mandatory documentation prior to departure.
Face masks are mandatory for all passengers and crew on board Norwegian flights, to be worn during boarding and throughout the flight.
Food and drinks are not currently available on board, with the airline advising customers to either bring their own refreshments or pre-order.
Face masks need to be kept on throughout the whole flight, only to be temporarily removed for eating and drinking. The face mask rule applies to all passengers apart from children under six years old and people that can’t wear a mask for medical reasons.
Face masks need to cover your mouth and nose and should be either a protective or medical-style mask, or a fitted face covering. Coverings such as scarves, snoods, balaclavas or any similar items are not acceptable for travel.
Jet2 suggests its passengers stock up on masks before travel and recommends they are changed every four hours.
Ahead of the return journey, every passenger needs to fill in a UK Passenger Locator Form 48 hours before returning to the UK. This is an online form that records your travel and contact details for the government in case they need to contact you. You can find the form at https://www.gov.uk/uk-border-control
BA are asking passengers to check in with their app or online and download up to eight boarding passes. The UK flag carrier is also asking its guests to keep details up to date in case they need to get in touch, as well as requiring the wearing of face masks at all times.
BA are asking passengers to to keep hand baggage to a minimum so it’s easier to move through the airport, whilst a new food service - designed to reduce physical contact with crew – will be offered onboard. Special meals, including children’s meals, are unavailable.
The airline is asking passengers to avoid travel if you’ve experienced symptoms of Covid-19 within the last 7 days and still have a high temperature, advising passengers to arrive 3 hours before long-haul and 2 hours before short-haul flights.
The Philippine national flag carrier continues to roll out more safety measures to protect its guests ‘in line with the highest standards’ with the aim of providing a healthy, safe, and clean environment onboard.
Philippine Airlines passengers must bring their own face masks to use at the airport and throughout the flight, with the carrier allowing surgical, ear loop, or do-it-yourself masks, as well as other protective shielding.
Passengers can expect thermal scans at entry points, locator forms to fill out, sanitizers in designated areas, and other security checks. Airport staff are equipped with face masks, which must, as with those of passengers, be worn at all times.
Philippine Airlines’ cabin crew will wear full PPE and will practice a simplified inflight service approach to minimize frequent contact. Meal service continues to follow Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) procedures during preparation, whilst snacks continue to be in sanitized containers or secure packaging.
The Hong Kong-based carrier has launched its Cathay Care programme, aimed at encouraging passengers to ‘fly confidently’ with the introduction of enhanced measures across every stage of the journey, from check-in to the cabin.
All passengers are required to wear face coverings in situations where they cannot keep a distance of 6.5 feet from others, including during check-in, in lounges, during boarding, in the aircraft cabin and during disembarkation.
Cathay also recommend that face coverings are used in ‘high-traffic areas’ including security lines and baggage claim. Passengers who are unable to wear face coverings, including children under six years old, are exempt from the rules.
Cathay Pacific ask that guests bring their own ‘appropriate face covering’ to wear throughout your journey, advising that ‘all types of face masks and coverings’ are suitable.
The UK’s 'unofficial second flag carrier', under the tagline of ‘Fly safe, fly well’ has implemented new measures designed to give its guests more peace of mind. Every passenger on Virgin will be given a Health Pack onboard, containing medical grade face masks, surface wipes and hand gel. The airline requires the wearing of masks throughout its flights.
The Irish airline recommends checking in online and using self-service and bag drop facilities where available to minimise contact. Due to Covid-19 restrictions Aer Lingus lounges are closed temporarily, whilst boarding will now be in small groups at a time, and according to seat row number. At the boarding gate passengers can now scan their own boarding card, meanwhile priority boarding has been suspended.
It is now mandatory for all Aer Lingus passengers to wear a face mask or covering, with their Cabin Crew also wearing face masks throughout their flights. Face coverings can be reusable cloth masks or disposable masks, with the carrier recommending that these are worn from when you enter your departure airport, to when you leave your destination airport.
All passengers entering Singapore need to submit a health declaration, which can be completed up to three days before your flight. The airline recommends its passengers check in online using the SingaporeAir mobile app or on their website to save time at the airport. The app can also be used to generate your mobile boarding pass.
All passengers undergo temperature screening before immigration, as well as a basic health assessment. All counter staff at Changi Airport wear masks, whilst protective shields have been installed at airport counters. Passengers, including children aged 2 and over are required to wear a mask throughout Singapore Airlines’ flights.
The German carrier is advising passengers to wear a face covering at all times whilst in the airport and onboard, a measure also adhered to by its crew. Only one piece of hand luggage is permitted, boarding is automated via contactless gates and disinfectant wipes are provided to all passengers.
Dutch airline KLM is requiring its passengers wear a face mask from ‘the first boarding call until you have left the aircraft’ until at least 31 August 2020. The carrier will deny boarding to anyone not wearing a mask, whilst it strongly advises passengers to wear a face mask in the rest of the airport as well.
KLM aircraft have been equipped with ‘coronakits’ in case a passenger unexpectedly shows any signs of illness during the flight. These kits contain PPE for passengers and airline staff, aimed at limiting the risk of an onboard infection.
From 1st August 2020, passengers must have a COVID-19 PCR test before flying with Etihad Airways from any worldwide airport outside of Abu Dhabi valid within 96 hours of arriving or departing Abu Dhabi.
It is compulsory to wear a face mask at the airport and onboard, with the airline permitting only one personal item onboard weighing up to 5kg. Across all cabins, remaining cabin baggage can be checked in for free.
Etihad are offering their onboard food and drinks service in line with important COVID-19 guidelines, whilst its ‘Wellness Ambassadors’ are available 24/7 before or during your trip, and you’ll also receive a Wellness Kit on board.
Upon entering Emirates Terminal 3 in Dubai it is mandatory to wear a face mask, with the UAE carrier also recommending passengers wear gloves.
Passengers will pass through a thermal scanner before being given a complimentary travel hygiene kit containing gloves, a face mask, antibacterial wipes and a hand sanitiser.
Emirates’ check-in desks have been fitted with protective antimicrobial screens, with spacing stickers on the floor to help maintain a safe queueing distance.
The aircraft will be boarded in smaller groups from the last row to the first, and their boarding gate areas are deep cleaned once everyone is onboard. Emirates requires your mask to be on at all times in the airport, during boarding and onboard.
The US airline is implementing temperature checks for employees and cabin crew, installing ‘sneeze guards’ at check-in and gates, encouraging use of the United app for contactless travel assistance, promoting social distancing with floor decals and rolling out touchless check-in for customers with bags
All United Airlines passengers are required to wear face coverings during their entire flight and in the airport, including at United customer service counters and kiosks, their gates and baggage claim areas. Children younger than 2 years old are exempt.
Canada’s flag carrier is rolling out ‘TouchFree’ Bag Check kiosks for domestic travel, with international travel beginning later in the summer. This allows passengers to automatically print their bag tags without contact before dropping them off at the - also contactless - Bag Drop.
New technologies are also being introduced to automatically size and measure carry-on baggage for compliance, making Air Canada’s carry-on baggage policy verification process touchless.
Air Canada is introducing virtual queues, which work by passengers scanning a QR code at the entrance of a queue which then sends a virtual ticket to your phone when it’s time to board.
Upon boarding Air Canada international flights, passengers will receive a ‘Customer Care Kit’, made up of a mask, two antiseptic wipes, hand sanitizer, gloves, water bottle, a headset and a snack.