Qatar Airways will now require all passengers, including children, to wear a plastic face shield in addition to a face mask or covering as it steps up its protective measures against COVID-19. The change in policy comes as the airline drops a requirement for its cabin crew to wear full head to toe biohazard suits, something that chief executive Akbar Al Baker admitted was “uncomfortable” but said was necessary to protect crew from the dangers of the novel Coronavirus.
Instead, cabin crew will now wear a disposable protective gown, similar to what crew at other Persian Gulf airlines including Emirates and Etihad wear. They’ll also be kitted out with face masks, protective glasses and disposable gloves but they won’t be expected to wear face shields.
Passengers flying with Qatar Airways will be supplied with a face shield by the airline which will be available in two sizes – a standard adult fit and a smaller child’s version which is adorned with the airline’s Oryx Kids Club mascot. Giving away complimentary face shields is already common practice for Indian airlines.
For Economy Class passengers, it will be mandatory to wear a mask and shield at all times except when eating or drinking but both the mask and shield are optional for Business Class customers. Qatar Airways justified the decision because premium passengers “enjoy more space and privacy”.
Children under the age of two will also be exempt from wearing either a mask or face shield.
“Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, the safety of our passengers has been our highest priority,” explained Al Baker. “By introducing these additional onboard safety and hygiene measures, our customers can rely on us and our unparalleled expertise to fly them safely to their destination.”
Passengers will also be offered a hygiene kit containing a surgical face mask, large disposable powder-free gloves and an alcohol-based hand sanitiser gel. Business Class customers will also be offered a larger tube of sanitiser gel.
Qatar Airways has made much of the fact that it continued to operate worldwide throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with its network never dropping below 30 destinations. The Doha-based airline says that experience has given it unrivalled knowledge of how to safely operate even with the lurking danger of the Coronavirus.
By mid-July, Qatar Airways is targeting a network that will serve 65 destinations with 430 scheduled weekly flights.
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.