Face masks on flights have quickly become the norm as travelers tentatively return to the skies, but Qatar Airways has taken this a step further, announcing that its passengers will be required to wear a face shield — in addition to a face mask or face covering.
The Middle East carrier says it will be issuing fliers with protection kits — including face shields, hand sanitizer, a surgical face mask and disposable gloves — before they board its airplanes.
The face shields, which are disposable, will come in two sizes, one for adults and one for children. Infants under the age of two are exempt.
The face shields are obligatory for economy class passengers, unless they’re eating or drinking, the airline says. According to Qatar, those traveling in business class can wear the shield “at their own discretion, as they enjoy more space and privacy.”
All passengers must wear them during boarding and embarkation.
Qatar Airways said it believes passengers will respect the new rules.
“Anyone refusing to wear the face shield during the boarding process will be not allowed to travel,” a Qatar Airways spokesperson told CNN Travel.
The airline is also stepping up personal protective kit for staff. Cabin crew will wear disposable protective gowns, fitted over their uniform, plus safety glasses, gloves and a mask.
‘Travel with confidence’
“By introducing these additional onboard safety and hygiene measures, our customers can rely on us and our unparalleled expertise to fly them safely to their destination,” Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker, said in a statement.
“As the largest international airline flying consistently throughout the pandemic, we have become one of the most experienced in safety and hygiene. We will continue to lead the industry in terms of the services offered to our passengers, so that they can travel with confidence.”
Qatar says the measures come as it begins to revive routes paused in the early stages of the pandemic. It relaunched services to 11 more destinations on July 1 and plans to increase that to 65 by mid-July.
Many airlines across the world have made face coverings mandatory on flights in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Enforcing face shields on top of masks could be next.
Airlines for America (A4A), the industry body that represents US carriers such as American Airlines and United, has called for consequences if passengers do not follow guidelines.
In June, a passenger was kicked off an American Airlines flight for refusing to wear a mask. Traveler Brandon Straka was temporarily banned by the airline.