The Qantas Group today announced a series of improved flexibility and wellbeing measures to give travellers peace-of-mind in preparation for the relaxation of domestic travel restrictions. Qantas and Jetstar plan to roll out their ‘Fly Well’ program on June 12, building on current measures and a combination of medical advice and customers feedback.
Qantas and Jetstar’s new safety measures
In this morning’s press release, the Qantas Group announced the following key measures.
- Information sent to customers before their flight
- Strongly encouraged contactless check-in (online/app) and self-serve bag drop
- Hand sanitising stations at departure gates
- Increased physical distancing, hand sanitising stations, enhanced cleaning and changes to food and drink service at Qantas Lounges
- Qantas is working with airports on other safeguards
- Masks provided to all passengers on each flight
- Enhanced aircraft cleaning with a disinfectant effective against COVID-19
- Sanitising wipes given to all passengers
- Limited food and beverage offering to minimise crew and passenger touchpoints
- Passengers are asked to remain in their seats as much as possible
- Sequenced boarding and disembarkation to minimise crowding
Additionally, Qantas encourages all passengers to download the Australian Government’s COVIDSafe app, and stated that anyone with cold and flu-like symptoms should stay at home.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said: “Safety is absolutely core to how we operate and that applies to new challenges like managing the risk of coronavirus so people can fly with confidence.
The release also highlighted that all Qantas and Jetstar aircraft are already fitted with hospital-grade HEPA filters, which remove 99.9% of all particles including viruses. Qantas said that, on average, the air inside the cabin is refreshed every five minutes during flight.
Middle seats won’t be blocked
At this stage, the Qantas Group has no plans to block middle seats in economy to implement social distancing during the flight. Although, this decision didn’t come without intensive research.
“The data shows that actual risk of catching Coronavirus on an aircraft is already extremely low. That’s due to a combination of factors, including the cabin air filtration system, the fact people don’t sit face-to-face and the high backs of aircraft seats acting as a physical barrier.” suggested Dr Ian Hosegood, Qantas Group Medical Director.
Dr Hosegood mentioned that social distancing on an aircraft isn’t practical or economical. In order to meet social distancing of 1.5 metres, a 180 seat Jetstar A320 could fill only 22 seats.
Improved flexibility for passengers
In addition to the enhanced wellbeing measures, the Qantas Group announced that Qantas and Jetstar would be improving the flexibility of flight bookings.
Qantas will waive their change fee one time if you decide to change the date of any Qantas or Jetstar domestic flight booked between 21 May and 30 June 2020, for travel between 12 June and 31 October 2020. You will still incur any fare increase, if relevant.
International flight credit
Customers with an existing Qantas or Jetstar international (excluding Trans-Tasman) booking, for travel between 1 August and 31 October 2020, may cancel their booking and retain the full value as a flight credit. Flight credits must be requested by 30 June 2020 and are valid for booking and travel until 31 December 2021. Jetstar credit vouchers allow up to two years to travel from issue date.
The measures announced today by the Qantas Group provide travellers with reassurance that the airline is taking their safety seriously. The increased flexibility for bookings is also a welcome bonus. The Fly Well program will be reviewed after its first month of operation.