Qatar Airways will force all passengers in economy to wear face shields – but the measure will not be mandatory for those in business class.
The announcement comes as part of a wider move to increase safety measures that will see passengers provided with a single-use surgical face mask, disposable gloves and alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
The airline is now the biggest international carrier in Australia after its share of passengers travelling to and from the country leapt from just 3 per cent to 44.5 per cent in April.
Qatar said the discrepancy in policy on wearing face shields is due to business class customers enjoying “more space and privacy”. Customers will be able to take them off while eating.
The shields will come in different sizes for adults and children and the latter will feature the airline’s Oryx Kids Club mascot as part of their design. Parents are advised that those under two won’t need to wear them.
Those travelling from the airline’s home base of Hamad will be handed the shields at check-in, while those in countries such as Australia will be given the protection at the boarding gates.
In addition, customers will also be given a complimentary protective kit in a zip pocket.
During both boarding and disembarkation, all passengers will be asked to wear both their face mask and face shield.
The new measures come in addition to existing procedures to minimise the spread of coronavirus.
Business class meals are now served on a tray instead of a table and cutlery wrap is offered to passengers as an alternative to individual cutlery service.
Qatar now uses only single-use menu cards and sealed refresh wipes. All social areas onboard are now closed to enhance social distancing.
All onboard linen and blankets are washed to “microbial lethal temperature”, while headsets are “rigorously sanitised” after each flight.
All crew are now “thermally screened” before flight departure and are quarantined and tested if any colleagues or passengers on a flight shows any symptoms of having COVID-19.
Qatar is now comfortably the biggest international carrier in Australia, having displaced previous number one Qantas.
The airline now estimates it has repatriated almost 2 million people since the start of the pandemic. Globally, the business relaunched 11 destinations on 1 July and hopes to expand to more than 65 destinations worldwide by mid-July.