ORLANDO, Fla. – Airlines are taking increased measures for passenger and employee safety as concerns continue during the coronavirus pandemic.
Officials with JetBlue have announced the airline will be the first in the U.S. to require all customers to wear face coverings while onboard a flight. The new policy goes into effect May 4 and comes after the airline previously made it a requirement for crew members to cover their faces while working.
“Wearing a face covering isn’t about protecting yourself it’s about protecting those around you,” Joanna Geraghty, president and chief operating officer of JetBlue said. “This is the new flying etiquette. Onboard, cabin air is well circulated and cleaned through filters every few minutes but this is a shared space where we have to be considerate of others."
In addition to the safety precaution, JetBlue and several other airlines have limited the number of seats available to provide additional space between passengers who are not traveling together.
Speaking on "Face the Nation" Sunday, Expedia Chairman Barry Diller said the concept of social distancing is nearly impossible to accomplish in an enclosed space like onboard a flight.
"The idea that you can take the middle seat out of an airplane and have any kind of 'social distancing' is absurd. You can't. It does not work. Social distancing works when it's complete." Diller said.
In another unprecedented move, Emirates became the first airline in the world to test passengers for COVID-19 before boarding. The company has also equipped employees with personal protective equipment.
At Orlando International Airport, enhanced cleaning procedures and social distancing measures were put in place last month. Officials said they’ll continue to follow the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.