Is it safe to fly? Measures airlines will follow to keep passengers safe during flights - and latest FCO travel advice
Now that the summer holidays are fast approaching, many will be wondering if a holiday abroad could be on the horizon.
Airlines have announced plans for the resumption of flights and lockdown restrictions are gradually beginning to lift across the globe, including travel bans.
But is it safe for Brits to start travelling again?
Is it safe to fly yet?
Currently, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is still advising Brits against all but essential international travel.
However, the prospect of travelling abroad again could soon be on the horizon again as the UK government plans to introduce ‘air bridges’ with a number of European destinations.
This will allow people in the UK to travel to select countries in Europe that have a low infection rate and where coronavirus is under control.
Such routes would allow tourists to travel freely between a number of approved countries, without being forced into mandatory quarantine on either end of their journey.
Travel to France, Italy, Spain, Greece and Turkey are among those understood to be confirmed, without the need for a 14-day quarantine.
Other destinations including Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Gibraltar, Norway and Bermuda are also believed to be included in the list of destinations considered to be safe by the government.
Several airlines have also started announcing plans to restart their flights abroad from July.
Jet2 will restart its flights and holidays from 1 July, along with Ryanair. Easyjet resumed a number of domestic flights from 22 airports across the UK on 15 June, and is restarting flights to Europe on from 1 July.
But despite plans to restart the tourism industry, the latest FCO advice states that Brits still should not travel abroad, unless the journey is essential.
What rules will be enforced at UK airports?
In an effort to keep infection levels down, and in line with several other countries, the UK government will introduce a series of restrictions at the UK border, including social distancing measures.
A 14-day quarantine rule is due to start in UK airports from 8 June and will affect anyone arriving by plane, train or ferry.
Travellers will be required to fill in a form on arrival to the country, including their contact information and an address where they will have to remain for two weeks.
If travellers don’t have anywhere to stay, accommodation will be arranged by the government.
Health officials will perform spot checks to ensure compliance with the measures and fines of up to £1,000 will be issued if rules are broken.
UK travellers also face a 14-day quarantine on arrival to some countries abroad, although travel without quarantine will be possible to France.
How will flights be made safe?
While safety guidance for when flights resume has not yet been issued by the government, several airlines are already making plans for their return to the skies.
Here are some of the new measures that could be enforced the next time you travel:
Empty middle seats
Easyjet, along with US airline Delta and Emirates, has announced plans to keep its middle seats empty during flights to ensure social distancing can be maintained between passengers.
The move would be a temporary measure for when flights resume, to help ensure the safety of those on board.
However, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary dismissed the idea, labelling it as not financially viable and claimed it would not ensure safe social distancing for passengers.
Mandatory face masks
Air France and American Airlines made wearing face masks on board mandatory for all passengers from 11 May, while Emirates imposed the rule in April.
The measure could be introduced on British airlines to reduce the risk of transmission on board.
PPE for flight staff
Flight attendants could be required to wear personal protective equipment during flights, including hospital grade gloves and protective masks, in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus when serving customers.
Reduced food and beverage service
Some US airlines are reportedly asking passengers to bring their own food on board in order to reduce interactions between passengers and staff.
United Airlines and Alaska Airlines are now providing new cups to passengers every time they order a drink, even on refills, to prevent staff from handling cups.
Such measures could be more widely adopted for the foreseeable future.
Staggered boarding procedures
Staggered boarding procedures could be introduced at airports as part of efforts to maintain social distancing among passengers.
Temperature checks at airports could be imposed prior to boarding, although Public Health England (PHE) has suggested such a move would be ineffective.
However, Heathrow Airport and Edinburgh Airport have announced plans to start trialling the use of thermal cameras, with the aim of forming a Common International Standard for health screening at airports globally.
Additional cleaning equipment
It may become mandatory for airlines to provide cleaning equipment to passengers, such as in-flight hand sanitisers, and for more rigorous cleaning of all hard surfaces with hospital grade steriliser.
Airlines have already begun changing the way they clean their aircrafts between flights, with Delta Airline starting a process called fogging, in which a fog machine disperses high-grade disinfectant which coats every surface of the cabin.