MIAMI – JetBlue (B6) confirmed that it would expand its pledge to seat distancing by blocking middle seats in rows where groups do not fly together until July 4.
The policy, part of the “Safety from the Ground Up” multi-layer airline program, comes from the fact that the airline is also set to implement temperature monitoring for its flight and flight crew members and electrostatic fogging aircraft in June.
“As communities start to reopen and with summer travel kicking off this weekend, more people are beginning to fly and we want them to feel safe on JetBlue,” said Joanna Geraghty, president and chief operating officer, JetBlue.
Geraghty added, “Our program layers together with a series of protections throughout the entire travel journey, which work together to help keep everyone safe and well.”
According to aviationpros.com, B6’s program focused on four focus areas: healthy crew members; clean air and surfaces; more space, fewer touchpoints; and travel flexibility.
Seat distancing measures for all flights
As part of its “more space, fewer touchpoints” strategy, B6 ‘s seat distancing policy offers consumers the peace of mind that they won’t be seated next to anyone they don’t recognize.
Middle seats will be blocked on its Airbus aircraft and B6 will block aisle seats on its smaller Embraer 190 aircraft. The airline requires passengers to fly together and sit in the center and in the aisle of their seats.
Geraghty states in B6’s press release that the airline is known for generous legroom and space, “and now more than ever, those choosing to travel want as much space as possible. We are pleased to extend our efforts to keep seats free and help everyone onboard spread out.”
Even with seats blocked, it’s impossible to maintain a space of six feet from those on board; hence, the airline’s policy to require customers’ face coverings, the first U.S. airline to do so.
JetBlue will keep the seat distancing program in place through at least July 6.
A combination of a series of protections
According to its press release, JetBlue’s plan sets in place precautions in the following four priority areas as the carrier aims to operate under the supervision of an infectious disease expert and is advised by the CDC guidelines.
1. Healthy crewmembers
Steps to ensure the health and safety of JetBlue’s 23,000 crew members include:
- Conducting temperature checks for pilots and inflight crewmembers (rolling out the first week in June)
- Providing paid sick leave and additional time off programs so crew members do not come to work sick
- Following company-wide protocols for reporting cases of the coronavirus, notifications and return to work clearance
- Providing disinfectant kits for crew use
- Requiring face coverings for all crew members while boarding, in-flight, and when physical distancing cannot be maintained
2. Clean air and surfaces
JetBlue uses an authorized disinfectant to kill coronavirus and preserve clean air on its aircraft. Steps shall include:
- More frequent disinfecting of common surfaces like kiosks and counters inside our airport terminals
- Providing hand sanitizer throughout terminals and disinfectant wipes to customers onboard upon request
- Increasing aircraft cleaning before every flight and overnight, including surfaces that are touched most like tray tables
- Using electrostatic sprayers to fog the inside of aircraft (rolling out soon)
- Filtering cabin air through hospital-grade HEPA air filters with cabin air completely changing about every three minutes
- To learn about how air circulates onboard JetBlue’s fleet, view the following JetBlue video below:
3. More space, fewer touchpoints
To increase physical distancing and to decrease touchpoints, JetBlue is implementing the following steps:
- Requiring face coverings for all customers during check-in, boarding and inflight
- Blocking middle seats on larger aircraft and aisle seats on smaller aircraft for those not traveling together (at least through July 6)
- Providing the most space between each row of seats in coach of any U.S. airline* and spacious seating on all aircraft
- Providing touchless check-in and boarding experiences using the JetBlue mobile app and self-boarding gates for many flights
- Implementing a back-to-front boarding process for most customers to minimize passing in the aisle
- Adjusting onboard service including pre-sealed snack and beverage bags in Core, and pre-packaged fresh meals in Mint
- Using personal devices as a remote for seatback screens on select planes
4. Travel flexibility
JetBlue has adapted policies that allow customers to choose to travel when they feel more comfortable:
- Waiving change and cancel fees for tickets purchased by May 31 to give customers confidence when booking
- Extending Travel Bank credit expirations to a 24-month period for credits issued between Feb. 27 and May 31
- Providing 24/7 support and customer service
CEO Says Booking Demand Now ‘Bumping Off the Bottom
In the video below, B6 CEO Robin Hayes discusses with Bloomberg’s Guy Johnson on “Bloomberg Markets: European Close” the measures the carrier is taking to ensure customer safety amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
They also discuss how these measures will impact scheduling and flight turnaround times, the return of flyer demand, extra slots becoming available, state aid and legacy carriers, and what the industry will look like in Q4.