American Airlines To Start Distributing Face Masks On Flights

American Airlines is to begin distributing face masks onboard flights from early May. The US carrier will also require flight attendants to wear face masks on board all flights.

American Airlines, Facemasks, Coronavirus
American Airlines is to begin handing out facemasks onboard flights. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

The United States is currently the epicenter of the global coronacrisis. At the time of writing, the nation had just shy of one million confirmed cases of the virus. As aircraft typically see people confined to small spaces for a couple of hours, it is no surprise that airlines are doing their part to fight the virus. Earlier this month, rival airline Delta announced a wave of changes to deal with the current unprecedented situation.

Face mask distribution

American Airlines will begin to hand out masks and other protective supplies onboard aircraft form early May. The airline hasn’t committed to a firm date for when the supplies will start to get given out. However, as amounts and operational conditions allow, the airline will begin to distribute face masks to passengers.

American Airlines, Facemasks, Coronavirus
The cabin crew will have access to a PPE drawer in the galley. Photo: American Airlines

However, the line won’t be drawn at face masks. The airline also mentioned that sanitizing wipes or gels would be handed out where possible. This would allow passengers to wipe down their seating area and disinfect things.

Flight attendant masks

While face masks will be offered to passengers where available, some flight crew will have to wear them throughout the flight. In particular, American Airlines said that its flight attendants would be required to wear the protective equipment from the 1st of May onwards. There isn’t yet a requirement for pilots.

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Tray tables will get additional cleaning. Photo: American Airlines

To ensure that the crew has the supplies that they need, American Airlines is adding a particular PPE container to the aircraft. This will take the form of a drawer in the gallery of every mainline flight. This will contain PPE, such as masks and sanitizers, for both the attendants and the pilots.

Speaking of the roll-out, Kurt Stache, Senior Vice President of Customer Experience at American Airlines, said:

“Our team members on the frontline are truly going above and beyond during this time. Their commitment is nothing short of incredible and we will continue to work with them to make sure they have the equipment they need to feel safe.”

American Airlines, Facemasks, Coronavirus
Seat belt buckles get touched by many passengers. Photo: American Airlines

Additional cleaning

In addition to the facemasks being distributed to both customers and staff, American Airlines will also be conducting additional cleaning within its aircraft. As far as passengers are concerned, the US carrier will now be cleaning all tray tables, seatbelt buckles, armrests, window shades, seatback screens, and overhead bin handles. It didn’t make it clear how often these would be cleaned.

American Airlines, Facemasks, Coronavirus
Overhead bin handles will also be cleaned more frequently. Photo: American Airlines

Meanwhile, for the crew, the airline has enhanced how it is cleaning the galley, jumpseats, and crew rest areas. Additionally, cockpit surfaces will now be cleaned too.

What do you think of American Airlines’ new face mask policy? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!