Airline's drastic new coronavirus safety measure divides opinion

An airline has introduced drastic new safety measures in response to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, including a requirement for all passengers to wear a disposable full face shield.

Customers on Qatar Airways will be issued with the face shield before boarding the aircraft which they must wear for the duration of the flight in addition to a face mask or covering.

Qatar's face shields come in adult and child sizes. Photo: Qatar Airways (supplied.)
Qatar's face shields come in adult and child sizes. Photo: Qatar Airways (supplied.)

According to a press release by the airline, the face shields come in two sizes — one for adults and one for children — with the kids version featuring Qatar’s Oryx Kids Club mascots.

Flyers will also receive a complimentary protective kit onboard that includes a single-use surgical face mask, large disposable powder-free gloves and an alcohol-based hand sanitiser gel.

In addition to safety glasses, gloves and a mask, Qatar cabin crew will also be sporting a new disposable protective gown that is fitted over their uniforms.

Qatar cabin crew will wear protective gowns as well as glasses, masks and gloves. Photo: Qatar Airways (supplied.)
Qatar cabin crew will wear protective gowns as well as glasses, masks and gloves. Photo: Qatar Airways (supplied.)

The airline announced the changes on July 3, just days after relaunching flights to 11 destinations — by mid-July, Qatar says it will expand to more than 65 destinations worldwide.

Over on social media, frequent flyers are divided in their opinion of the airline’s strict new safety protocol.

“Safety first, I like it,” wrote a fan in the comments section on a Qatar Airways Instagram post.

“That’s a sad picture for ppl who loves to fly,” was one user’s thoughts.

“Seriously who would want to fly in these times anyway,” wrote another.

Aussie airline’s booze ban

Back in June, Virgin Australia and Qantas announced they were banning booze as well as non-alcoholic beverages — and in some cases in-flight meals — as part of a global movement by airlines to limit interactions between cabin staff and passengers.

Both Aussie airlines are said to be scaling back their offerings onboard flights, with Virgin serving a complimentary snack and water bottle, but hot meals and alcohol will be a no go for the foreseeable future.

Alcohol banned on flights coronavirus measure Qantas and Virgin Australia
A glass of bubbles after takeoff is off the menu for coronavirus flying. Photo: Getty Images

A spokesperson told Executive Traveller the changes are in keeping with recommended safety practices to reduce the risk of COVID-19.

“Due to Government restrictions and health advice associated with COVID-19, we’ve introduced changes to our inflight service offering including the temporary suspension of alcohol being served on board,” the spokesperson said.

“We are continuing to review these measures in line with the latest medical advice, easing of travel restrictions and guest feedback.”

Booze ban aims to keep social distancing in place during coronavirus airline flying
Social distancing measures are trying to minimise contact between everyone on board. Photo: Getty Images

Meanwhile, Qantas has followed a similar trajectory but says alcohol should be available to flyers sooner rather than later as restriction continue to be eased across the country.

Overseas airlines including budget European flyer Easyjet and US American Airlines are just some of the big names taking similar precautions, and on many carriers a face mask is required for anyone on the plane at all times.

So if you’re planning a trip anytime soon, it looks like it’s going to be dry flying.

Additional reporting by Penny Burfitt.

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