A study by the New York Times has attempted to identify what occupations are most at risk of catching the Coronavirus which is officially known as COVID-19. While some jobs at highest risk are fairly obvious – such as nurses, doctors and paramedics, as well as dentists and other healthcare workers – flight attendants are also high up on the list of ‘at risk’ professions.
The paper attempted to identify what jobs were riskier than others by measuring the exposure to diseases and the physical proximity to others that each job entails. Both measures were measured out of a maximum score of 100 and plotted on a graph.
Flight attendants obtained an ‘exposure to disease’ score of 77 and a ‘proximity to others’ score of 96. In comparison, nurses scored 80 and 77, while paramedics were at a much higher risk with scores of 89 and 97.
While the New York Times notes that frontline retail workers are at an increased risk of catching a disease, cashiers were scored just 30 for ‘exposure to disease’ and 75 for ‘proximity to others’.
Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organisation (WHO), as well as many other health authorities, have recommended ‘social distancing’ to prevent the spread of COVID-19. A luxury that flight attendants generally don’t get to enjoy.
So concerned is the union that represents flight attendants at American Airlines that they’ve demanded ‘hazard pay’ for its members. Lori Bassani, the president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) said American had made the risk even greater in recent years by cramming more seats on its planes and installing tiny restrooms that make it impossible to wash your hands properly.
With passenger demand falling off a cliff, there’s less of a chance of being stuck on a packed plane but some airlines are making moves to enforce social distancing on their aircraft. Air New Zealand is currently updating its seat maps to block out certain seats so that passengers aren’t sat too close to one another.
Both Alitalia and Taiwan’s China Airlines have now asked passengers to wear face masks on flights or face being denied boarding. China Airlines also said it would take forehead temperature tests of all passengers before they were allowed to board.
See the original graph and also look up other occupations here.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.