As airlines and the aviation industry struggle with the best measures to safeguard crew and passengers, JetBlue released further guidance on its plans on May 20th. Top amongst these is a commitment to guarantee social distancing on its flights. Adjacent seats to passengers will be blocked on all flights until July 6th.
Seating passengers apart until July
JetBlue announced on May 20th its latest measures for passengers as travel increases. This includes a seat distancing policy that will ensure all passengers are not seated next to someone they don’t know. Family members traveling together can still be seated together.
This will be achieved by blocking seats. The airline will block all middle seats on its Airbus aircraft. And on its Embraer 190 fleet, all aisle seats will be blocked. The airline has confirmed this program will remain in place until at least July 6th (after the holiday weekend).
In announcing the measures, Joanna Geraghty, president and chief operating officer of JetBlue, made clear both the safety and customer comfort benefits. She said,
“We’re known for generous legroom and space, and now more than ever, those choosing to travel want as much space as possible. We are pleased to extend our efforts to keep seats free and help everyone onboard spread out.”
Part of wider COVID-19 plans
The social distancing policy comes as part of a series of changes announced by JetBlue, in a program known as ‘Safety from the Group Up.’
Other changes for passengers include providing touchless check-in and boarding, back to front boarding, and provision of only pre-packaged food onboard. JetBlue already requires all passengers to wear a face mask throughout the flight. It was the first airline in the US to introduce such a requirement.
In the terminal and on aircraft, there will be increased cleaning and use of disinfectants. And electrostatic sprays will be introduced to fog the cabin. All cabin crew and pilots will also have their temperature taken, as part of several measures for their protection.
Speaking about the whole package of changes, Joanna Geraghty explained,
“As communities start to reopen and with summer travel kicking off this weekend, more people are beginning to fly and we want them to feel safe on JetBlue. Our program layers together a series of protections throughout the entire travel journey, which work together to help keep everyone safe and well.”
Changes to travel
As travel starts to pick up, and especially as more countries start to open their borders, we are likely to see many more such announcements. There are certainly a lot of changing plans in this area at the moment, as opinions on the most appropriate policies shift, and airlines asses what they can realistically provide.
At least for now, it would seem that JetBlue is making the right move to guarantee social distancing. American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Air Lines have all introduced social distancing to a certain extent. But there have been several issues, such as experience with busy United aircraft. Recently, the House Transportation Chair has called on all airlines to apply social distancing policies. It’s not a requirement yet, but it could well become one.
What do you think about social distancing on aircraft? Will it encourage you to travel more, or do you think airlines should focus on other areas? Let us know in the comments.