The safety and well-being of all travelers is our top priority. Airlines have been adding layers of protection that meet — and frequently exceed — CDC guidelines, from requiring facial coverings to enhancing cleaning protocols, such as electrostatic and fogging procedures.
In addition, as travelers begin to return to the skies, U.S. airlines encourage travelers to take the following precautions to further protect themselves and others.
“The ventilation system requirements for airplanes meet the levels recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for use with covid-19 patients in airborne infection isolation rooms.”
“Because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes, most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights.”
“[HEPA filters] block particulates like the COVID, but more generally, viruses, microbes, at 99.9 percent, at least. Even if you sneeze, the air around you is renewed every two to three minutes. Within a minute, there’s nothing left around you ... The fact that you’re seated for a couple of hours next to somebody doesn’t represent a higher risk than being in another area where you will be close to people for a given period of times like shops, but there the air doesn’t move much.”
Face coverings have become an essential part of a comprehensive set of precautions passengers can take reduce transmission of COVID-19. This is why U.S. airlines require all passengers and customer-facing employees to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth throughout the journey — check-in, boarding, in-flight and deplaning.
The CDC says wearing a face covering helps prevent respiratory droplets from traveling in the air and onto other people. Passengers must wear face coverings correctly—not covering your mouth and nose will not block the spread of respiratory droplets.
A recent modeling study suggests that the universal use of surgical masks in the setting of ventilation rates of aircraft may reduce infection risk from respiratory particles to less than 1 percent.
Yes, U.S. airlines require all passengers and passenger-facing employees to wear facial coverings. Travelers on U.S. airlines can expect carriers to strictly enforce their face-covering policies and determining appropriate consequences for passengers found in noncompliance.
Passengers are encouraged to bring their own face coverings, but many U.S. airlines offer free face coverings for passengers that need them. We encourage travelers to check with their carrier before heading to the airport.
Travelers are expected to wear their face coverings throughout the journey. However, it is permissible to remove your face covering at times when it is necessary, such as when eating or drinking.
U.S. airlines are transforming the check-in process to reduce touchpoints for passengers. Passengers are encouraged to check-in on their airline's website or smartphone application so they can proceed straight to TSA when arriving at the airport.
For passengers who need to check-in when they arrive, U.S. airlines are sanitizing counters, kiosks and gate areas more frequently. U.S. airlines' enhanced cleaning protocols meet or exceed CDC disinfection guidelines to stop the spread of COVID-19.
U.S. airlines have also implemented temporary health acknowledgment policies and procedures for passenger travel as an additional level of protection during the pandemic. Passengers can expect to acknowledge compliance in three primary areas:
When proceeding through a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint, passengers will notice numerous adjustments TSA has made to protect the health and safety of the traveling public.
Carriers have added layers of protection to help safeguard passengers throughout their journey – from requiring facial coverings to enhancing cleaning protocols, such as electrostatic spraying and fogging procedures. Carriers are working around the clock to sanitize cockpits, cabins and key touchpoints – including tray tables, armrests, seatbelts, buttons, vents, handles and lavatories – with EPA-approved disinfectants. Additional information about these efforts can be found here.
All A4A members have aircraft equipped with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, which generate air as clean as an intensive care unit. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said, “Because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes, most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights.”
“[HEPA filters] block particulates like the COVID, but more generally, viruses, microbes, at 99.9 percent, at least. Even if you sneeze, the air around you is renewed every two to three minutes. Within a minute, there’s nothing left around you.”
— Airbus EVP for Engineering Jean-Brice Dumont
“Cabin air flows primarily from ceiling to floor in a circular pattern and leaves through the floor grilles near the same seat row where it enters. This helps minimize front-to-back air movement and helps to limit the potential spread of contaminants.”
In addition, carriers have implemented a range of policies — including back-to-front boarding and adjusting food and beverage services – to allow for fewer touchpoints. Travelers are encouraged to check with their carrier for additional details regarding onboard policies.