The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is appealing to airline passengers to wear a face covering during their flight or risk facing the consequences, which could include refusal of carriage, being banned from future flights, or penalties under national laws.
Wearing a face covering is recommended under the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s guidance for safe operations during the coronavirus pandemic, which is now being used by most global airlines to establish new policies and procedures as they resume flights.
According to IATA, there have recently been reports of travellers refusing to wear a mask during flights, with some incidents becoming violent and resulting in “costly and extremely inconvenient diversions to offload these passengers”.
Under their Conditions of Carriage, which all customers agree to by purchasing a ticket, airlines have the right to refuse carriage to passengers whose behaviour interferes with a flight, violates government regulations, or causes other passengers to feel unsafe. IATA pointed out that customers are clearly told about the need to wear a face covering during the booking process, at check-in, at the gate and in on-board announcements.
IATA director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac commented: “This is a call for common sense and taking responsibility. The vast majority of travellers understand the importance of face coverings both for themselves as well as for their fellow passengers, and airlines appreciate this collective effort. But a small minority create problems. Safety is at the core of aviation, and compliance with crew safety instructions is the law. Failure to comply can jeopardise a flight’s safety, disrupt the travel experience of other passengers and impact the work environment for crew.”
Dr David Powell, IATA’s medical advisor, added: “The research we have seen to date, and our own investigations with the world’s airlines, tells us that the risk of catching Covid-19 on a flight remains very low. There appears to be a number of factors supporting that. The high flow rate of cabin air from top to bottom, constant filtering of air through state-of-the-art HEPA filters, the fact that all seats face the same direction and of course wearing a face covering and sanitisation of the aircraft all play a part.”
Flying Reporter: Coronavirus testing prior to departure
Lufthansa Airlines reporter Bastian gets tested for Covid-19 prior to his flight at Frankfurt airport. Find out the advantages this provides him when entering other countries, how the test works and where tests are possible.
Eurostar has confirmed that its long-awaited direct service from Amsterdam and Rotterdam to London will launch on 26 October after receiving the go-ahead from European governments.
The high-speed rail operator had plans to launch the non-stop service in April, but the impact of Covid-19 travel restrictions forced the company to cancel the London-Amsterdam route until earlier this week.
Following the signing of a new treaty between the UK, France, Belgium and the Netherlands last month, the company can now launch the direct return service, which will allow trains to skip the current stop in Brussels for security and immigration clearance.
Trains from London arrive in Rotterdam in three hours and 30 minutes and in Amsterdam in three hours and 52 minutes, while the return service from Amsterdam takes four hours and nine minutes. Passengers will still have the option of catching the Thalys train from Amsterdam to Brussels, where they will have to go through security and immigration before transferring to a Eurostar train back to London.
Eurostar will begin selling flexible tickets for the route from 1 September, which allow passengers to change their booking multiple times without an exchange fee up to 14 days prior to departure. Customers will only have to pay the difference if they choose a more expensive fare and will not receive a refund if their new ticket is cheaper than the original. This could be especially appealing for travellers given that the UK government has recently added the Netherlands back onto its list of countries from which incoming travellers must quarantine on arrival.
As with all Eurostar services, the new route will include the requirement for all passengers to wear a mask on board and in stations, while a new seat map enables social distancing between passengers.
Eurowings passengers buy empty middle seats
German airline Eurowings, a subsidiary of Lufthansa, said on Wednesday that it would begin allowing customers to book empty middle seats next to them when they fly, part of a plan to allow passengers to socially distance while aboard.
On intra-Europe flights, most airlines only block middle seats in rows near the front of the plane, a way of creating a rudimentary business class section that predates the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, Eurowings is extending that option to economy class passengers for a fee starting at 18 euros.
According to a statistical model from MIT, filling the middle seat on flights roughly doubles the risk of COVID-19 transmission, although the overall risk likely remains low.
It seems that the much criticised visit of the Prime Minister’s sidekick has brought about a visitors' boom to Barnard Castle. All Brits too. The American tourists are missed but the County Durham English Heritage site is doing OK without them...