Delta Air Lines will become the first U.S. airline to make hand sanitiser available at both the boarding door and close to onboard restrooms with its fleet of Boeing 757’s set to get the sanitizing stations first. Until now, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has banned bulk alcohol-based hand sanitizers because of the potential fire risk they pose onboard an aircraft.
The COVID-19 pandemic has, of course, led to a rethink and safety inspectors have finally bowed to pressure from airlines to allow the same kind of hand sanitizing stations that are commonplace in shops and restaurants. Delta claims it will be the first U.S. carrier to take advantage of the relaxed rules with the first planes set to be equipped with wall-mounted hand sanitizers from August 28.
The news comes just days after a new study revealed that shared onboard restrooms could pose the greatest risk of COVID-19 transmission onboard an aircraft. Scientists from the Soonchunhyang University College of Medicine in South Korea concluded that maintaining good hand hygiene was vital after using an onboard lavatory because of the risk of coming in contact with the novel Coronavirus.
The researchers studied an evacuation flight from Milan to Seoul on March 31 where a passenger who was otherwise well and had been wearing an N95 mask appears to have been infected during the flight. The most likely place for her to have picked up the virus was when she used the same restroom as an asymptomatic passenger.
Delta reacted to the study on Thursday, saying its flight attendants regularly wipe down surfaces in its onboard restrooms with disinfectant. The airline also pointed out that some restrooms are fitted with hands-free features like touchless faucets, flush levers and waste flaps. Hand washing reminders also feature in the restrooms of around 130 aircraft.
Nonetheless, readily available hand sanitizing stations will certainly make it easier for passengers to maintain good hand hygiene.
The Atlanta-based airline has set up a dedicated Global Cleanliness Division to advance its cleaning protocols and recently revealed that it had doubled aircraft cleaning times in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Thursday, Delta chief executive Ed Bastian confirmed that around 240 passengers have now been banned from flying with the airline for failing to comply with mandatory face mask rules. Of those 240 people on the so-called ‘no-fly’ list is the former Navy SEAL who claims to have shot dead Osama Bin Laden.
Bastian said banning passengers refusing to wear a face mask continued to be “rare” although its believed Delta has barred far more passengers over the policy than any other airline.
Passengers who have been banned, won’t be allowed to travel with Delta until at least the requirement to wear masks onboard its aircraft has been lifted.
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.