By Bernd Debusmann Jr
Safety precautions designed to stop the spread of Covid-19 will mean a drastically different travel experience
Dubai’s Emirates has resumed limited passenger flights to a number of locations through June 30, albeit with new safety and hygiene measures in place to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, the airline announced on Thursday.
The new flights include nine destinations: London, Frankfurt, Paris, Milan, Madrid, Chicago, Toronto, Sydney and Melbourne.
Adel Al Redha, Emirates chief operating officer, said that the airline “is implementing a comprehensive set of measures at every step of the travellers’ journey, to enhance the sanitisation of all touchpoints, and ensure the health and safety of our customers and employees.”
“The risk if catching an infection on an aircraft is already very low, but we have spared no effort in reviewing and redesigning every step, from check-in to disembarkation,” he added. “Every measure implemented is an additional reduction in risk, and taken altogether, our aim is really to make flying as safe as possible.”
As part of its enhanced check-in procedures, Emirates is now distributing complementary hygiene kits to passengers upon check-in at DXB and on flights to Dubai.
In Dubai, gloves and masks are mandatory for all customers and employees at the airport. On flights, however, only masks are required. Passengers must also undergo thermal screening and adhere to social distancing guidelines, which are marked with indicators on the ground in various areas of the airport.
The airport team has also installed protective barriers at each check-in desk and immigration counter to provide additional safety reassurance to passengers and employees during interaction over the counter.
Customers travelling through the airport and transiting to other flights must also go through thermal screening after they get off their inbound flight. Transfer desks at the airport have also been installed with protective barriers, with airport staff dressed in PPE.
Passengers will also be given an additional hygiene kit at the gate before boarding their connecting flight.
The boarding sequence has now been staggered, with passengers boarding row by row, from last to first, in small batches.
Waiting areas have also been modified to ensure that customers observe social distancing regulations. The boarding gates are also cleaned and disinfected after every flight.
All cabin crew on flights will be dressed in PPE gear. To further ensure hygiene, the airline has also added a cabin service assistant (CSA) to flights longer than 1.5 hours. The CSAs will ensure that lavatories every cleaned every 45 minutes.
Magazines and other print reading materials are no longer available. In premium classes, however, menus and wine lists will still be provided to passengers. Comfort items – such as mattresses and pillows – will be hygienically sealed. Emirates will also resume its service with hot meals, using sterilised cutlery.
Cabin baggage have to be checked-in, and customers can only bring essential items such as a laptop, handbag, briefcase or baby items on board. Customers have also been reminded to bring pens to fill out health declaration forms required for some destinations.
Lastly, Emirates said that flight and cabin crew have been provided with cars for pick up and drop off at their homes. Layovers in destination cities have also been curtailed when possible. In cases in which layovers are necessary, crew are put up in individual rooms in hotels.
Upon their return to Dubai, crew are tested for Covid-19 and subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine period in their homes after every flight, unless they are on duty.