COVID19 – What The Airlines Are Saying

On the morning of the 12th March 2020, I woke up to a number of emails from the airlines. All of them were related to the ongoing COVID19 situation, and encouraging me that everything is fine.

Personally I cant say I’m too worried about contracting anything while I travel. I’m firmly of the opinion that you’re just as likely to catch it from being sat next to someone in your local restaurant etc.

However, I do understand there are many more out there who are genuinely concerned about COVID19. The airlines know this too. And they need to stay in business. Therefore they need to reassure their customers that they are doing everything they can to minimise the risks.

As mentioned, I am not overly concerned about things. However, it’s still reassuring to me that the airlines are taking things seriously. Or at least, they’re saying they are.

The below list isn’t exhaustive. Purely what I have received over the past week or so.

As of the time of writing, I am yet to hear anything regarding COVID19 procedures from Virgin Atlantic, Delta Airlines, Alitalia or KLM who I also have profiles with.


British Airways

Dear Valued Customer,

BRITISH AIRWAYS’ COMMITMENT TO YOUR SAFETY AND PEACE OF MIND
I wanted to write to you to thank you for the trust we know you place in us every time you choose to travel with British Airways. These are unprecedented times for our industry, our country and the world.

Please be assured that our expert teams are working closely with the UK Government and health organisations around the world to ensure we are following the very latest advice.

BOOKING WITH CONFIDENCE
We fully understand that many of our customers want to change their travel plans given the evolving COVID19 situation, so we have put a number of measures in place so that you can book with confidence with British Airways.

We are giving additional levels of flexibility to customers with bookings made between 3 and 31 March 2020. If you need to change the travel date on your booking, we are waiving all change fees (a fare difference may apply). This applies to any British Airways flight, in any cabin, whether booked directly with us or through a travel agent. If you need to cancel your flight, we will give you a voucher to the value of that flight which can be used across the British Airways network up to 12 months from the original date of departure. (Changes exclude franchise airlines Comair and Sun-Air)

ENHANCED AIRCRAFT CLEANING
The cleanliness of our aircraft is of utmost importance. We have reviewed and made changes to our cleaning programme for aircraft including increasing our cleaning teams and audit inspections. Our disinfectant cleaning fluids are used on every aircraft after each flight to thoroughly clean all hard surfaces in the cabins and lavatories.

All our aircraft are fitted with HEPA filters which remove particulate and bacterial contamination and provide passengers with clean air. They provide the same level of air filtration as hospital operating theatres.

STAYING IN TOUCH AND UP-TO-DATE
We know you may have more questions, so please visit ba.com which is constantly being updated with the very latest information and advice.

You can also help us to communicate quickly and easily with you by ensuring your contact details are up-to-date in Manage My Booking.

Thank you for your continued support.


Lufthansa

Dear Lufthansa guest,

We are looking forward to welcoming you on board our flights in the coming days.

We realise that the current news regarding the impact and spread of the Coronavirus (COVID19) is cause for uncertainty among airline passengers. We therefore thank you for continuing to place your trust in us and choosing us for your travel needs.

These are extraordinary times. The latest developments have not only led to reduced demand for airline tickets and many countries have also changed their entry regulations. Therefore we have to adjust our flight schedules regularly. Should your booking be affected, we ask for your understanding.

On every flight you take with us, your safety and well-being is our top priority. To this end, we are in close contact with health and government authorities and follow the recommended measures.

On our airline website lufthansa.com you can find the latest travel information and check the current status of your flights.

We will continue to monitor the situation and developments and do everything possible to ensure that you have a pleasant and safe journey.
Best regards

Markus Binkert
Senior Vice President Marketing Network Airlines
Chief Commercial Officer Hub Munich


Turkish Airlines

Dear James White,

The safety and well-being of our passengers and crew is our utmost priority at Turkish Airlines. Since the first reports of the Covid19 outbreak in the news, Turkish Airlines has followed the developments closely, considered the probable scenarios at the highest level and taken all the necessary measures.


Upon completing a flight, all Turkish Airlines aircraft undergo a thorough cleaning process, in compliance with the national and international civil aviation authorities’ guidelines that include the wiping of the commonly-touched surfaces in the flight cabin and lavatories including toilets, tray tables, armrests, seatbelt buckles and in-flight entertainment screens with disinfectants. All blankets, linens, headrest covers, bedsheets and headsets are replaced with fresh sets for each flight.

Turkish Airlines has declared that all passenger flights to mainland China, Iran, Iraq, South Korea and Italy had been cancelled. The entire flight cabins of all our aircraft arriving from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand undergo an intensive cleaning which also includes disinfectant fogging that has proven effective against existent viruses including the novel coronavirus known to cause Covid19.


During flight, the air in the cabin is refreshed constantly by air conditioning units equipped with hospital-grade, High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filtration systems. The air in the cabin is completely changed 15 to 30 times per hour as particles of dust and all known airborne bacteria and viruses are filtered. This ensures the highest possible quality of cabin air. In addition to premium cleaning products in all our aircraft, medical disinfectants are also available in the aircraft lavatories for flights to Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. All Turkish Airlines crew is well informed and trained to handle contamination cases and is ready to assist in any case of medical emergency.

The Covid19 epidemic is a complicated situation that requires concerted efforts on both national and international level to tackle and Turkish Airlines is working closely with all relevant authorities and adapting its precautionary measures accordingly to ensure your safety and well-being both on the ground and in the air. Thank you for your support and understanding.

Kind regards,


TAP Portugal

Our priority is always to transport our clients and crew safely. Since the outbreak of the COVID19 virus it has become clear to the entire team that nothing is more important than the health and safety of our staff and our clients. It is therefore important to share with you all the work carried out in real time on a daily basis as the situation develops.

OUR AIRCRAFT ARE SAFE
In addition to the rigorous hygiene and routine cleaning of our aircrafts and workplaces, we have implemented further cleansing and disinfection procedures specifically designed to deal with the COVID19, using approved biocidal products in line with the guidance issued by the Directorate-General for Health (DGS), with the aeronautical safety specifications and from the aircraft manufacturers.

TAP’s aircrafts are equipped with a vertical air recycling system that completely renews the cabin air every 2-3 minutes: that is to say, 20 times every hour. This vertical system operates across sections of 5 seat rows, ensuring all parts of the aircraft receive the same quality of fresh air simultaneously.

The system employs High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters that are identical to those used in operating theatres. These filters successfully remove 99.999% of even the smallest viruses, including those measuring just 0.01 micrometres. The coronavirus family measures between 0.08 and 0.16 micrometres, and is therefore extracted by the HEPA filters in every section every 2-3 minutes.

OUR CREWS ARE TRAINED TO KEEP YOU SAFE
TAP’s cabin crew receives continuous training in procedures to identify, approach and treat suspected cases of infectious disease on board, including COVID19, and the necessary equipment and tools are available on all flights.

These procedures are in strict accordance with the best international practices, according to the latest advice issued by the International Air Transportation Association (IATA), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the DGS. Staff communications and training have been significantly enhanced as a result of the COVID19 outbreak, as has the coordination with TAP’s Health Care Units (UCS) and with all those involved in the service to ensure your flight is safe.

WE HAVE SPECIALISTS ON BOARD
With the UCS, a medical service with more than 30 years’ experience in the field of health and aviation, we have implemented the recommendations issued by the WHO and the European and North American centres for disease control, as well as those issued by the IATA Medical Advisory Group, with which we have had a long relationship.

We are in daily contact with national and local health organisations, with the civil aviation and airport authorities and with our front-line staff: cabin crew, maintenance and engineering, catering, cleaning and other ground services.

We have activated our communicable disease contingency plan in January, and since then we, as an organisation, have been on a permanent state of alert and have acted in accordance with the procedures in each case at all times. We are able to act appropriately before, during and after the flight.

WE OFFER GREATER FLEXIBILITY SO YOU CAN BE CONFIDENT IN BOOKING WITH TAP
We want to offer our clients the flexibility to book and travel with confidence. You can consult the new policies we have implemented as a result of the exceptional circumstances caused by the COVID19 virus outbreak here.

We are constantly updating the information available on Flytap and on all social networks to ensure that you will always have access to the latest information. We have also increased the number of staff able to help you at our Contact Centres.

We want our clients to know that everyone at TAP is working hard to contain the virus and to ensure that you can travel safely, flexibly and with confidence.

In moments like this I am profoundly grateful and proud of the passion, professionalism and dedication of our people and of the trust and loyalty of our clients.

I also leave you with the recommendation you take care of yourself and your own by taking these small steps, which the World Health Organisation has recognised as being most effective, in our daily lives.

✓ Wash your hands regularly
✓ Cover your nose and mouth with your elbow when coughing or sneezing
✓ Avoid contact with other people if you are ill
✓ Avoid contact with infected people

Thank you very much and I look forward to seeing you on board, where you can experience our commitment to you.

Antonoaldo Neves
CEO TAP Air Portugal


easyJet

Dear Mr,

Given the unprecedented situation we’re all facing as a result of Covid19, we wanted to provide an update on what this means for any travel plans you may have with easyJet.

We will continue to operate a flight schedule that ensures that those customers who still wish to travel can do so, where travel restrictions allow and in line with guidance from health authorities.

However, we understand there is uncertainty around travel at this time, so if you currently have a booking with us but would prefer not to fly then from tomorrow (13.03.2020), you can now change your flight online and we will waive the flight change fee. This applies to all existing and new bookings until further notice. Should there be a difference in fare you’ll need to pay this – however by waiving the change fee, we want to ensure you have more flexibility to amend your travel plans.

Where we’ve been required to cancel flights, customers will be able to transfer to an alternative flight free of charge or receive a refund. And where all flights have had to be cancelled due to local authority guidance – in Italy, for example – we are operating rescue flights to ensure passengers can return home.

To change your travel plans, please visit the Manage Bookings section on easyJet.com. This is not only the simplest way to make changes but, given the call volumes we are currently experiencing, this will also be the quickest.

Please note that if you do need to call the Contact Centre to make a change, there will be an administration charge of £5 applied per person, per flight – so we really do encourage you to make your changes online. Clearly, if you require special assistance when booking, this fee will be waived.

Keeping our aircraft clean

For customers concerned about exposure to Covid19, we want to reassure you with the measures we’re taking to ensure the health and wellbeing of our customers onboard.

The air in the cabin is constantly filtered and refreshed every few minutes. A study commissioned by the European Aviation Safety Agency found that the cabin air quality is similar or better than what is experienced in normal indoor environments.

We maintain the highest standards of cleanliness by adhering to the guidelines set by EASA and the World Health Organisation (WHO). This involves our cabin crew cleaning the aircraft in line with industry standards after every single flight, and they always sort and safely dispose of any waste.

The cabin, toilets, seats and tray tables are thoroughly cleaned each night by professional cleaning teams at all of our airports. Additionally every aircraft goes through a regular deep clean by a team of specialist cleaners. Finally, soap and hand sanitizer is made available onboard for all customers and crew to use.

Thank you for your support

Above all else we would like to reassure you that the safety, health and wellbeing of our passengers and crew always has been, and always will be, our number one priority.

We’ve been flying for 25 years, during which time we have faced many difficult situations and on every occasion, thanks to our customers and our people, we have emerged stronger. So, on a personal note, we want to say thank you for your support and we look forward to welcoming you on board again very soon.

Hotels

Despite being a member of most, if not all hotel loyalty schemes, so far only IHG have been in contact to discuss their measures:

IHG

Dear James,

As a valued member of our IHG® Rewards Club family, we appreciate your loyalty and the trust you place in us as a travel partner. Recognising the ongoing and increased uncertainty that coronavirus (COVID-19) is causing around the world, our highest priority is the health and well-being of our guests and employees. With that in mind, we wanted to update you on the actions we have taken in response to the outbreak.

Supporting your plans
We know that flexibility is what our guests are looking for right now. So, we are waiving cancelation fees for existing and new bookings at all IHG hotels globally for stays between 9 March and 30 April 2020.

We continue to monitor the situation and will be keeping this policy under review. Please visit our website for more information on our latest cancelation policy and additional updates – including specific information on bookings made through a travel agent or online booking platform (e.g. Booking com, Expedia) and Groups & Meetings bookings.

For bookings beyond 30 April 2020 we want to remind you of the flexibility already built into our rates and packages that allow our guests to amend travel plans as necessary. Our Best Flexible Rate allows our guests to change or cancel their reservation one to two days prior to arrival. Changing the date on any reservations may result in different pricing, but there is no fee for making changes. To ask about any booking contact the hotel or our reservation team.

We hope this helps you to plan and book any future travel with confidence.

During your stay
Our number one priority is your health, safety and well-being. We are closely monitoring developments around the world and are in contact with global organisations, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and relevant authorities for country-specific requirements, to ensure the actions we take are comprehensive and suitable.

All of our hotels are required to adhere to comprehensive health and safety procedures including all local laws. In addition, we provide our hotels with best practices and guidelines and have supplemented these resources with additional COVID19 cleanliness-specific guidance, training and information consistent with our own high standards.

IHG Rewards Club status
We know that many of you are now thinking about how to manage your loyalty activity this year and we are committed to supporting you to do that. You are our most loyal guests and we want to give you more reasons to get away and stay with us – when the time is right for you.

With more constrained travel plans and a shorter time period during which members can earn Elite tier status, we are reducing the Elite membership criteria required (nights or points) this year by 25% or more. See details here.

With this change, you can continue to earn Elite membership status this year and enjoy all the IHG Rewards Club benefits this brings through 2020 and into 2021. This change will be reflected in member accounts in the coming weeks.

Our teams pride themselves on providing True Hospitality for everyone – a promise that guides us every day and is fundamental during times like this.

I’d like to thank you for the trust and support you have in us and we look forward to welcoming you to an IHG hotel soon.

Best wishes,

Keith Barr
Chief Executive Officer
IHG
 
 

Car Rental Companies

Surprisingly, I also received an email from Avis. I’ve only used them twice, both occasions coming around 7-8 years ago.

Avis

Dear valued Avis customer,

With the news dominated by Coronavirus (COVID19), I wanted to get in touch and let you know that we are vigilantly implementing enhanced protocols to ensure your safety.

We are closely monitoring the guidance of the World Health Organization regarding the spread of the virus and our focus is to ensure we meet customer needs whilst doing our part to keep you and our employees safe.

Here’s what we’re doing.

• We’ve enhanced our already robust cleaning techniques of our vehicles after each rental. In particular, we are paying special attention to the places people touch such as steering wheels, door handles and other hard surfaces.

• We are also cleaning our facilities frequently with recommended sanitizing products and encouraging all employees to be vigilant about frequent hand washing.

• In addition, we are taking steps to ensure the welfare of our employees. This includes instructing employees who feel ill to stay home and consult their healthcare providers.

• We will be waiving cancellation fees for any reservations at any time that need to be cancelled as a result of a government Coronavirus-related travel ban.

If you have an existing booking, we look forward to seeing you and want to reassure you that we are doing everything we can to promote a safe and secure rental experience.

Book with confidence

For increased flexibility on all bookings, you can change or cancel, without fees, any reservations in Europe for rentals due to start before 1st May.

For bookings which start after this time, there will not be any penalties for changes made up to 72 hours before the start of your rental.

To make any changes, please contact our reservations team or call 0808 284 0014.

During this challenging time, many people are choosing different ways to travel. If you need a rental vehicle, we are here for you. Your safety is our highest priority and we truly appreciate the trust that you place in our team and our company.

Best regards,

Keith Rankin
President, International

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