Several airlines have been taking extra measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus to passengers and airline crew members. Some of these measures include things like not serving snacks and issuing water bottles at the beginning of the flight to do away with drink service.
American Airlines has implemented its own set of policies to prevent the spread of the virus, including things like removing meals or snacks from being served for flights less than 4 1/2 hours and creating distance between the flight attendants and passengers.
But, as we all know, coming into close proximity with others and their germs on a plane is virtually impossible.
And as a result of this we have recently found out that about 100 American Airlines flight attendants have now reportedly tested positive for coronavirus.
American Airlines announced that they are now providing their frontline workers with face masks should they choose to wear them. They also reiterated that they will be working with the CDC and public health officials to coordinate on further health and safety measures.
Southwest Airlines flight attendants have also been battling the spread of the disease although less than 1% of its 60,000 employees have currently contracted the virus.
Recently the Transport Workers Union of America, which represents more than 65,000 aviation workers, sent a letter to the FAA and OSHA regarding the safety of airline workers.
They requested that aircraft be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized between flights and also requested that flight attendants be provided with personal protective equipment (PPE).
It was only a couple of weeks ago an American Airlines flight attendant died of coronavirus and so the threat of disease and death has been a very real thing for flight attendants.
I’ve said it before that employees like flight attendants are putting their health on the line much like grocery store workers and others who work in essential businesses that come into contact with the public.
Until we have a vaccine or something that would work similar to a vaccine, I don’t see how the risk of transmission can be completely removed from flight attendants.
I do think that flight crew and those coming into contact with passengers in airports, should be required to wear PPE, especially masks. Protective measures like that, in addition to the extra sanitation procedures on aircraft, should help to reduce the risk to flight attendants.
However, until we can ensure widespread vaccination of the public and airline employees there is always going to be that lingering risk that they could contract something during the line of duty.
If the government is going to implement some type of increased compensation for hazardous workers, I think that flight attendants should be in serious consideration for this given the risk that they put themselves at every time they show up to work.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC. Read my bio.