Airplanes, with enclosed spaces and close quarters, have always given germ-conscious travelers reason to worry. When the World Health Organization identified SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus as a public health concern in January 2020 followed by officially declaring COVID-19 a pandemic two months later, the cleaning practices of airlines took center stage in the consciousness of travelers. Since that time airlines and public health officials worked tirelessly to adjust protocols and techniques to provide safe environments for passengers and crew to ensure air travel remains safe and enjoyable.
The travel industry has been one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. During the early days of this global crisis, air travel dropped drastically, especially as travel bans and restrictions impacted tourism. Concerns of both passengers and flight crews prompted airlines to adopt more stringent safety protocols. Many of these new policies were guided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and some were developed by the airlines themselves as added measures to keep employees and passengers as safe as possible.
These new protocols often include multilayer sanitation procedures that involve more frequent cleaning of surfaces. Pre-COVID cleaning techniques often consisted of removing cabin trash in between flights, with a thorough cleaning only after a plane had finished its daily run. Current techniques are much more detailed, with all surfaces disinfected as often as possible including seats, armrests, tray tables and touchscreens. Lavatories and galleys get special attention, as do overhead bins. In addition to these improved cleaning practices, stronger disinfectant solutions, the use of personal protective equipment and advanced cleaning techniques make the risk of exposure to germs and viruses in an aircraft very low.
One new technique making huge advancements in quickly and thoroughly cleaning passenger and crew areas in between flights is the electrostatic spraying of the entire cabin. Air Canada, one of the first airlines to require passengers to wear face coverings in flight, adopted this method as part of the Air Canada CleanCare+ program.
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