Innovative US carrier JetBlue is busy rolling out a program to ensure safety in flying is paramount. As part of this program, the airline will begin temperature screening all its inflight crew and pilots before they begin work. Here’s what you need to know.
Safety from the ground up
As restrictions begin to be relaxed and people slowly return to flying, airlines have a tough job ahead of them. As well as doing everything to ensure travel is as safe as it possibly can be, they also have the mammoth tasks of restoring confidence in their once loyal passengers too.
In an interview with Washington Post this yesterday, JetBlue’s CEO Robin Hayes was clear on the challenge that lay ahead. While convincing passengers it’s safe to fly is one thing, he believes it will start from the ground up. He explained,
“So, what we did at JetBlue is we rolled out our ‘safety from the ground up‘ program and added a number of elements. The first thing was making sure our crew members were healthy and well.
“We had to make some changes to some of our internal policies to make sure that crew members that weren’t well, if they’ve been tested for COVID and tested positive or if they’ve been asked to quarantine, that they knew it was absolutely OK not to come to work.”
To assist with this, Hayes has implemented a generous paid time off program so that crew members can take sick leave without worrying about losing money. Now, the airline is going one step further, and is beginning temperatures screening of crews when they turn up for work.
“So that was the first thing. We’re also rolling out, actually on the 1st of June, temperature checks for our crew members.”
A few other airlines have begun testing crew members’ temperatures prior to their shifts, notably Air Canada, which began on May 15th. Frontier is starting this also on June 1st. Airlines for America (A4A) has encouraged all its members to implement temperature screening of both passengers and employees to aid in getting the confidence back into flying.
Next steps in building confidence
Of course, JetBlue’s efforts to restore confidence in flying doesn’t stop there. The airline was the first to mandate the wearing of masks and is working to encourage compliance from all its guests. It is guaranteeing social distancing until July and has removed the penalties of change fees so that passengers don’t feel they have to fly if they don’t feel great. Hayes said,
“The second part of that is making sure our customers didn’t fly when they didn’t feel well. We’ve given our customers the ability to change the dates of their flights without penalty. We introduced that a couple of months ago.”
And then, of course, there’s all the rigorous cleaning that is going on before, during and in-between flights. Disinfection of high touch points is being undertaken regularly, and hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes will be made available to passengers on board.
Overnight, aircraft will undergo a thorough deep cleaning, including the use of a hospital-grade disinfectant. Electrostatic sprayers will also be used to fog out the aircraft cabins during the deep clean, which uses static charge to stick the disinfectant to surfaces that may otherwise be hard to reach.
Coming from a place of hurt
The ‘ground up’ approach of JetBlue comes from a heartfelt place. The airline has recently lost six team members to COVID-19, something which Hayes is clearly keen to avoid happening again. At his quarterly investors call, Hayes took a moment to remember the six, saying,
“We’re deeply saddened to have lost six crewmembers to the coronavirus, including a pilot, two members of our in-flight community, one support center colleague and two airport crewmembers.”
Hayes went on to name every single one of the employees, and to describe them individually, including personal memories and experiences they shared. It was a touching memorial to the six, and doubtless inspired JetBlue to do everything it can to protect its people.
However, Hayes also said that he was planning something more permanent as a tribute to their lost personnel.
“…those six people will be remembered. We’ll figure out, once we are through this, a more permanent way of remembering our six crew members that we lost to COVID-19.”
Would you feel safer flying JetBlue, knowing everything it’s doing to keep its people and passengers safe? Let us know in the comments.