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In a move that’s almost certain to polarize opinion, Qatar Airways has modified the health and safety rules enforced onboard its aircraft to include a requirement for Economy Class passengers to wear both a mask and a visor for the duration of the flight. Business Class passengers will continue to be asked to wear a mask and/or shield at their own discretion.
Qatar Airways has made it very clear from the start of this pandemic that it is keen to be seen to be doing all that it can to ensure the safety of passengers onboard…which is why the airline’s cabin crew have been dressed like this for the past few months:
Now, as Qatar Airways attempts to ramp up its services, the airline is taking things a step further by requiring all passengers traveling in the Economy Class cabin to wear both a face mask and a visor during their flight…although passengers are not expected to provide their own protective equipment.
The airline is handing out face shields a the check-in counters at Doha and at the gate elsewhere as well as continuing to provide all passengers with a complimentary “protective kit” containing the following:
- A single-use surgical face mask
- Large disposable powder-free gloves
- An alcohol-based hand sanitizer gel
Business Class passengers are also being given an additional 75ml (2.5oz) tube of sanitizer gel as well as the amenity kit that’s always on offer.
The disposable face shields being provided by Qatar Airways are available in two sizes – one for adults and one for children (infants under the age of 2 are exempt) – and passengers are required to wear them (together with a face mask) throughout their time onboard except during drinks and meal services.
While the requirements for passengers are being tightened up as people slowly return to the skies, Qatar Airways cabin crew are now no longer required to dress like a member of the Chernobyl clean up team. Instead, crew members have been issued with new disposable protective gowns that fit over their uniforms, in addition to safety glasses, gloves, and a mask.
To say that this is a more welcoming look would be an understatement!
I have no doubt that there will be some people up in arms about being asked to wear a face shield in Economy Class but if you’re one of these people there’s a very simple solution – fly with an airline that doesn’t impose these kinds of rules. When you fly with an airline you sign up to that airline’s conditions of carriage so Qatar Airways is well within its rights to implement these measures.
I can’t imagine that wearing a visor and face mask on a flight of more than a few hours will be much fun so this may well discourage people who are traveling for no better reason than the fact they want to travel from booking with Qatar Airways…and that’s probably a good thing. If I absolutely had to travel long-haul right now and Qatar Airways was operating to my destination of choice, these latest requirements would make it more likely that I would book with the airline – not because I think that having others wearing face shields will protect me (it won’t – face shields are for the protection of the wearer) but because these new measures are likely to reduce the chances of me sharing an aircraft with a person who’s not taking the current crisis as seriously as they should be.
If you’re planning on flying in a Qatar Airways Economy Class cabin in the near future be prepared to be required to wear a mask and face shield for most of your journey. The airline is providing passengers with both so you won’t need to bring your own to the airport but if you have your own mask it may be a better fit for you than whatever the airline is offering.