After becoming one of the first airlines in the world to mandate the compulsory wearing of face masks by its cabin crew, Singapore Airlines has surprisingly taken this long to extend the rules to passengers. New rules introduced by Singapore’s civil aviation authorities will compel passengers to wear a face mask on all Singapore Airlines and Silk Air flights effective midnight on Monday according to a notice posted to the airline’s website.
Unlike some carriers that have introduced similar rules, Singapore Airlines will require passenges to BYO – bring your own – face mask with them. Passengers must wear the mask throughout the flight.
Despite the wearing of face masks being commonplace in Singapore, the airline was initially reluctant to let its cabin crew wear masks in light of the Coronavirus outbreak. Eventually, Singapore Airlines relaxed it’s strict grooming policy to allow cabin crew the option of wearing a face mask if they chose, before making the Personal Protective Equipment, including goggles, mandatory in early March.
A slew of other airlines, including the likes of Emirates, Air France and Lufthansa have since copied SIA’s lead. All of the major U.S. airlines have also introduced similar rules in line with updated medical guidance which suggests mask wearing could reduce the risk of someone with COVID-19 passing the virus onto someone else.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) still maintains that face masks only need to be worn by those who are known or suspected to be infected, or those caring for an infected person. But the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has backed blanket rules on passengers wearing masks in an effort to restore confidence in the safety of air travel.
IATA said it supported the wearing of face masks, while rejecting the idea of onboard social distancing by blocking the middle seat – a suggestion that it said could bankrupt airlines.
Singapore Airlines will broadly follow that advice but will order passengers to observe social distancing when queueing for the lavatory. Onboard service will also be axed on short haul flights and services to China to minimise interaction between cabin crew and passengers.
The airline said it would continue to offer snack bags at the boarding gate and meals will be served on longer flights.
The small city State of Singapore saw initial success in combatting COVID-19 but has experienced a second spike in cases, largely in its population of expat workers from south east Asia who live in dormitories. A Singapore Airlines flight attendant was one of the first crew members to have been infected with the virus but such cases have remained incredibly rare for the airline.
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.