JetBlue passengers will need to wear a face covering from May 4

JetBlue is the first US airline to announce that passengers must wear face coverings throughout the airport process and flight. (Wikipedia Commons)

The US low-cost carrier, JetBlue, has announced that starting from May 4, all of its customers will be required to wear a face covering during travel. The policy follows the airline’s requirement for all crewmembers to wear face coverings while working. JetBlue said it has modelled its policy on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines that indicate all individuals should wear a face covering in public to help slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Joanna Geraghty, the airline’s president and chief operating officer said: “Wearing a face covering isn’t about protecting yourself it’s about protecting those around you.

“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. We are also asking our customers to follow these CDC guidelines in the airport as well.”

This new policy will require customers to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth throughout their journey, including during check-in, boarding, while in flight and disembarking. JetBlue said customers will be reminded of this requirement before their flight via email and at the airport by both terminal signage and announcements. Small children who are not able to maintain a face covering are exempt from this requirement.

CDC guidance defines a suitable face covering as an item of cloth that should fit snugly against the side of the face, be secured with ties or ear loops, include multiple layers of fabric and allow for unrestricted breathing. The CDC recommends surgical masks and N-95 respirators be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders.

Maintaining distance onboard

Beyond face covering requirements for crewmembers and customers, since late March, JetBlue has limited the number of seats available for sale on most flights, allowing the airline to provide additional space between individuals who are not travelling together. Before each flight, the airline reviews seat assignments to ensure as much personal space as possible. In addition, rows near crewmember jump seats have been blocked off to create buffer zones for added crewmember and customer safety.

The airline said that since Covid-19 began spreading in the United States, it has increased the rigor of its aircraft cleanings at night and between flights, using disinfectant approved to kill the coronavirus. Cleaning efforts have been focused upon the places customers and crewmembers touch the most, including seat covers, seatbelts, tray tables and armrests. Traditional food and beverage service have been adjusted onboard to limit touchpoints between crewmembers and customers.