A passenger wears her mask during a flight. A new study published on April 14, 2021 revealed that clearing the middle seat can reduce passengers’ risk of contracting the virus that causes COVID-19. (AP Photo / Charlie Riedel, file)
I recognize that I was one of the risky ones to get on a plane in the summer spent to visit my family in the Canary Islands. I was convinced that just as stores and restaurants have capacity restrictions, at the time of take off we would be a small number of passengers scattered around the cabin and separated with an empty seat in between, just like in the airport waiting room.
I settled my youngest daughter near the window and sat next to her in the middle seat. She breathed in relief because the armchair in the hall was empty. But just before the gates closed, a boy of about 25 came in and had to sit next to me. It was there that I raised my head to discover that the plane was almost at 100% capacity and that he would have to fly two hours and a few minutes to Tenerife with a person who was breathing less than half a meter from my head.
The quarantines had been so strict, with millions of workers and students fulfilling their obligations from home, and the bans so broad that it seemed impossible to me that they would allow that kind of crowding in the air.
Now the summer of 2021 is coming at a gallop and I do not have reserved seats because I am terrified of going through again because of the fear of catching it from a rowmate. Many passengers who are not yet vaccinated do not want to continue risking their lives by being locked in the same place with strangers.
Airplanes are safe places
Beyond my fears, we must not forget that modern airplanes are designed to maintain our health while we travel. Its engines help pump fresh air from outside to recycle and replace stale cabin air every two to three minutes. That means that in two hours of travel, the plane’s air was completely replaced about 40 times.
It is also true that modern aircraft have air filters similar to those found in hospitals to help clean particles as tiny as the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which makes them one of the safest closed places where we can be if we leave the house.
And to maintain the trust of their customers, the airlines have adopted additional measures such as the mandatory use of masks at all times and the distribution of a sanitary kit with disinfectant wipes. And some have already begun to block some seats to leave a space between each passenger.
But how do we know if an airline is adhering to the new hygiene standards to the letter?
The British consultancy Skytrax created a COVID-19 Airline Safety Certification system that is based on the investigation of 190 health and safety parameters that firms have in their air terminals and on their flights.
The Skytrax score gives a maximum of 5 stars to the airlines that offer the greatest safety to their passengers in these times of pandemic and a minimum of 5 stars for those that offer the worst sanitary conditions.
So far about 40 airlines have been evaluated. Among those that obtained 5 stars in the certification published in 2021 are:
AirBaltic BT is a Latvian flag airline that operates from its capital Riga. (Photo by Nicolas Economou / NurPhoto via Getty Images)
It is the only European firm that has so far received the highest rating and the first to be evaluated in January. She was praised for using on board ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) tests, which are rapid tests used to measure the rapid growth of microorganisms. Before COVID it was used mainly in the food industry to evaluate the cleanliness of surfaces or liquid samples. Now airports like Heathrow use ATP testing in an attempt to reduce the levels of bacteria in security trays used to X-ray personal items.
Japan Airline (JAL)
A Japan Airline (JAL) plane at Tokyo International Airport, popularly known as Haneda Airport, on April 25, 2021. (Photo by James Matsumoto / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images)
All of their sanitary procedures are impeccable. But his main achievement has been the innovative use of technology to reduce the risk of spreading the virus, such as the use of robots at airports as customer service assistants to provide flight information and contactless technology for checking and collecting. luggage.
Fiji Airways is the airline of Fiji, an island country in the South Pacific. In the image we see an Airbus A350 XWB as it prepares to take off from the headquarters of the manufacturer near Toulouse, France. (REUTERS / Regis Duvignau)
It is the first airline to receive the 5-star certification from Oceania for the creation of a simplified mechanism to register hand luggage that decongests the plane, the modification of the passenger boarding and disembarking procedure and an efficient disinfection of the plane using light. ultraviolet.
Qatar QTR QR is the national airline of the state of Qatar. It never stopped flying during the first and second waves of the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Nicolas Economou / NurPhoto via Getty Images)
It was applauded for offering passengers free face shields during the flight and for maintaining the quality of the flight experience, with a full meal service that adheres to rigorous hygiene measures.
Oman Air is the Oman national airline, based at Muscat International Airport in Seen, Oman. MuscatMuscat, Oman. (Getty Images)
The airline took advantage of the reduction in the number of flights to review all its health and safety measures. All its personnel wear disposable safety glasses and suits on all flights and also use ATP tests to ensure that cabin cleaning is effective and thus prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
All Nippon Airways ANA
All Nippon Airways (ANA) put into operation the baggage check machines with contactless screens at Haneda airport in Tokyo. (Photo by James Matsumoto / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images)
It was the first Asian airline to receive certification. Skytrax highlighted in its audit the new boarding system in which passengers located at the rear of the plane must be seated first.
The best known European airlines such as British Airways, Lufthansa, Air France, KLM, Iberia, EasyJet, Ryanair, Vueling and TAP were also certified but as a 4 star rating, which gives room for big improvements.
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