Delta Air Lines is enhancing its COVID-19 safety protocols by doubling its pre-flight cleaning staff and committing to blocking middle seats until at least 2021.
The airline will now have at least eight employees disinfect planes between flights — depending on the plane size — instead of three to five, Reuters reported on Monday.
“We’ve done quite a lot of change to our turn process,” Mike Medeiros, the head of Delta’s new Global Cleanliness division, told the wire service.“As important as [being] on-time is to our company, we know that cleanliness, particularly in this environment but also going forward, will be just as important.”
Delta will focus on common touchpoints like tray tables and bathroom door handles, Reuters noted, and have the staffers spray areas with disinfectant. After, a flight attendant and gate agent will inspect the cabin together and call back the cleaning staff if necessary.
The airline is also implementing test kits buying ATP test kits to measure bacteria, Reuters noted.
The additional staffers will also decrease the time it typically takes to clean a plane, however, Medeiros noted that the team will make sure everything is up to standard before passengers board.
“Even if that means taking a delay to the flight,” he said.
In addition to cleaning, Delta said it would continue to block middle seats until at least Jan. 6, 2021 and limit the number of passengers on board through at least Oct. 31.
“Medical experts… agree – more distance onboard makes a difference,” Bill Lentsch, the chief customer experience officer, said in a statement. “We believe that taking care of our customers and employees and restoring confidence in the safety of air travel is more important right now than filling up every seat on a plane. We’ll continue taking a thoughtful, layered approach ensuring customers know to expect the highest standard of care as they prepare for their holiday travels.”
Delta has also maintained a strict mask-wearing policy, placing people on a no-fly list if they refuse to comply and are even requiring passengers to wear a certain type of mask.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she’s not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram @alisonwrites.
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