Vistara announced on Thursday that it would be removing Starbucks coffee from its inflight service. This comes as part of several changes announced by the airline to reduce human contact on board during the post-lockdown period.
Vistara alters inflight service to prevent coronavirus spread
Vistara, the Tata-SIA airline, will be making several changes to the service it provides on domestic and international flights once operations resume. The new operating procedures aim to reduce human contact on board by up to 80% and include plans to limit the amount of time that the cabin crew spends interacting with passengers.
On domestic flights, this means that there will be a reduction in meal choices and withdrawal of certain services in both the premium economy and economy cabins. This includes onboard sales, welcome drink, hot meals, Starbucks coffee, and Turkish towels. Water and other cold beverages will still be made available to all passengers, but water-pouring will be replaced with the distribution of 200 ml sealed water bottles on all flights.
Vistara also announced that it would be removing its inflight magazine and all other reading materials to further reduce the risk of spreading the virus by touch. Services on international flights will also be reviewed.
What other changes can be expected?
India has been in lockdown since 25th March to contain the coronavirus, and as of yet, there has been no announcement on when flights will resume. Vistara is hoping to be back in the air by 1st June and has begun taking reservations. While making preparations for the resumption of flights, Vistara’s cabin crew have been receiving appropriate training on minimizing their chances of contracting or spreading the virus.
In a press release on 30th April, Vistara also stated that crew will ‘undergo thermal screenings before the departure and arrival of flights, and will be quarantined/tested if any colleagues or passengers show symptoms of infection or test positive for COVID-19. The cabin crew will wear personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face masks and disposable gloves at all times.‘
Social distancing will also be implemented at the airport, where passengers will be encouraged to use self-service facilities. In addition, disinfectant cleaning of all aircraft will occur between flights.
Changes to travel post-COVID-19
As the travel industry starts to plan on getting passengers back in the air, the way we travel post-COVID-19 is set to change. Vistara is not the only airline to announce changes to operations following the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing policies will remain in effect at many airports, and some airlines have announced plans to leave seats empty in the bid to keep passengers apart.
Routine health checks may also be carried out, including checking the temperatures of passengers and crew. It may even become compulsory for passengers to wear protective equipment, including face masks and gloves. For example, Lufthansa recently announced that it will be mandatory for passengers to wear face masks on board.
What are your thoughts on travel post-COVID-19? Do you think airlines should be reducing the services they offer? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.