Four major US airlines receive the 4-Star COVID-19 Safety Rating
By Peter Miller, Skytrax – London, UK
Four major US airlines have all been certified with the 4-Star COVID-19 Airline Safety Rating
Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, JetBlue Airways and United Airlines have all received the 4-Star COVID-19 Airline Safety Rating following the latest evaluations carried out by Skytrax audit teams in December 2021.
The Skytrax COVID-19 Airline Safety Rating is a trusted assessment and certification of airline hygiene and safety measures during the coronavirus pandemic, based on detailed, professional investigation of the standards being provided by an airline, both at the airport and onboard flights. It was the world’s first COVID-19 Safety Accreditation for the airline industry, regarded as a global benchmark for defining safe travel assurance for customers, with complex analysis of the hygiene improvement procedures and systems introduced by airlines.
Edward Plaisted of Skytrax said: “With the delayed opening of the US border to travellers from the UK and Europe, we deferred rating the American carriers until our audit teams were able to carry out the required evaluation and inspection trips with these airlines, and we are pleased to see that Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, JetBlue Airways and United Airlines are all meeting the 4-Star COVID-19 Safety Rating standards. For every airline evaluation we apply a set of global hygiene and cleanliness benchmarks that was formulated in 2020, and this is adjusted where necessary to any more specific country or government requirements that may have to be followed by an airline.”
Overall the audits noted good systems of COVID-19 specific information at key passenger touchpoints, including appropriate pre-travel customer guidance. Face mask usage and the need for distancing are quite well applied in the airport environments, and face mask usage is well enforced by all carriers. For each of these airlines, the aircraft interiors are visually cleaner with good standards of sanitisation being applied from their hub airports, although inflight cleaning checks tend to be less robust than airlines in some other regions.
There is less emphasis on adapted handling and service techniques for the inflight food and beverage service, probably reflecting that domestically, the US is returning to business as usual in many states. Similarly, a growing number of airline club lounges are re-opening, and the guest experience is now returning to pre-COVID standards.
A 4-Star COVID-19 Airline Safety Rating recognises good airport processing standards that include some elements of contactless technology, customer handling, and social distancing protocols for check-in, boarding, and arrival. Airline lounges have good cleanliness procedures and consistency, and there are reasonable measures in place that facilitate social distancing, and safe delivery systems for food and beverages. Onboard cleanliness and cabin presentation is at a good quality level which may use techniques for UV sanitisation, and mass disinfectant treatments which are scientifically evaluated. Most service systems for catering are adapted for COVID-19 times, with some reduced contact delivery and enhanced food safety measures for meal presentation.
Skytrax is the International air transport rating organisation established in 1989 and based in London, United Kingdom. In 2020, Skytrax launched the COVID-19 Safety Ratings covering airlines across the world, providing independent, expert evaluation and certification of airline COVID-19 hygiene and safety measures. The Skytrax COVID-19 Safety Accreditation is regarded as a global benchmark for defining safe travel assurance for customers.