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jetBlue Abandons Coronavirus Boarding Policy Designed to Help Social Distancing

jetBlue Abandons Coronavirus Boarding Policy Designed to Help Social Distancing

JetBlue is abandoning one of its most visible Coronavirus prevention measures by returning to its old pre-pandemic boarding policy. Like many airlines, at the outset of the global pandemic jetBlue implemented back-to-front boarding and front-to-back deplaning in order to assist with social distancing at a time when mask-wearing wasn’t commonplace or mandated.

The idea of boarding back-to-front (from the forward door) was to prevent close contact between passengers in the aisle where possible spread of respiratory droplets could occur. Having learnt more about the virus and the effectiveness of masks, however, jetBlue now says such a policy is no longer required.

In addition, since January 8, jetBlue has been filling its planes to full capacity rather than blocking middle seats to assist with social distancing. The new York-based airline had previously lifted its capacity cap to 75 per cent over Thanksgiving and this was increased to 85 per cent in early December.

jetBlue’s new boarding policy will give pre-boarding priority to disabled passengers before members of the airline’s Mosaic and Mint frequent flyer clubs are invited to board no matter where on the aircraft they are sat.

Group boarding will then commence with passengers in Group A who have purchased ‘Even More Space’ tickets invited to board next and then active military personnel, as well as passengers with infants.

Finally, the airline commences boarding in group order from Group B through to Group E.

A spokesperson for the airline, however, insisted that reverting back to its old boarding policy wouldn’t put passengers at risk.

“We continue to work within public health guidelines and take clinical guidance from our own medical experts to ensure we are doing everything we can to keep our customers and crewmembers safe in this next phase of our ‘new normal,'” a statement from jetBlue explained.

“With these resources as our guides, we returned this week to our grouped boarding process,” a spokesperson continued.

“It has become clear that mandatory face mask use and the hospital-grade air filtration on board every JetBlue aircraft are the keys to greatly reducing the risk on board, lower than other public settings.”

“We will continue to disinfect commonly touched surfaces, offer sanitizer and wipes to customers, and remain focused on keeping our crewmembers healthy through safety protocols and screening.”

Last year, and at the height of the COVID-19 crisis, jetBlue trialled ultraviolet light disinfection trolleys that the manufacturer claims are capable of disinfecting an entire single-aisle aircraft cabin in just 10-minutes.

The airline took delivery of eight such trolleys but a spokesperson wasn’t immediately able to confirm whether jetBlue was even still using the high tech pieces of kit. Qatar Airways has also been using the same product but the trolleys have failed to capture the attention of most airlines.

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