Qatar Airways Safe Travel Info
What's it like to fly Qatar Airways right now?
Qatar Airways’ social distancing policy has evolved since the start of COVID-19.
In May 2020, it announced in a press release that it was “encouraging social distancing where possible, especially on flights with lighter loads.”
Qatar Airways also committed to closing social areas onboard, such as its onboard bar and lounge, to maximize physical distance between passengers. Like most airlines, it implements social distancing at the airport, during boarding, and in its lounges.
Qatar Airways has also defined and implemented an impressive health and safety policy — including requiring all passengers and flight crew to wear face shields, which the airline provides free-of-charge.
The airline requires its crew to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) including glasses and gloves, and mandates passenger temperature screening at Hamad International Airport in Doha.
While Qatar Airways continues to keep the social areas on its aircraft closed and maintains social distancing policies at its airports and lounges, in July its CEO Akbar Al Baker told Sky News, “Social distancing is really not necessary in an aeroplane…So I think that social distancing really should not be implemented in an aeroplane as long as you’re going to take all the precautions you need – masks, gloves – and in Qatar Airways we are also supplying face shields and fully clad PPE for cabin crew.”
Like many airlines, Qatar Airlines has realized the devastating economic impact of onboard social distancing. In this camp: the CEO of Emirates and the International Air Transport Association (IATA), who among others, advocate for on-board face coverings and other preventive measures so airlines can move towards recovery.
Safe Travel Guide tracked the onboard social distancing policies of 66 airlines and found that only 14% continue to block seats between passengers as of August 2020. Another 12% try to encourage social distancing when load factor and schedules allow, but the remaining 74% majority have no continued onboard physical distancing policy.
This remains a hotly debated topic within the airline industry as airlines like Delta and JetBlue commit to continue blocking seats, and a study by MIT Stern Professor Arnold Barnett finds that the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission goes down by nearly 50% when there’s an empty seat between passengers on board (in a still-to-be-published report).
Yet the fact that Qatar Airways provides and requires face shields by everyone on board appears to be a smart and creative alternative to onboard social distancing.
Aside from social distancing policy, Qatar Airways is creatively pursuing ways to increase market share during the pandemic. While other airlines have reduced schedules substantially, the airline has used the crisis as an opportunity to build brand trust, bet on strategic routes, and win new customers.
When COVID-19 first swelled in early 2020, Qatar Airways continued to offer flights on routes other carriers cancelled. For example, it requested new traffic rights to Australia, and began serving Brisbane for the first time. Qatar Airways offered repatriation flights to citizens of many countries, earning it goodwill.
In April 2020, it flew over 1.3 billion revenue passenger kilometers (RPK), accounting for 17.8 percent of the global market at that time.
These bold moves enhanced its brand value as an airline that’s reliable and trustworthy, even in dark times.
It’s also bet on generous ticket flexibility. In addition to standard rebooking and cancellation, passengers may change a ticket’s destination to any city the airline serves within 5,000 miles of the original destination.
Like all airlines, Qatar Airways will scale back relative to its original growth plans for 2020. But given the competitive playing field has been reset, its current investments are likely to yield meaningful returns when global travel recovers.
As of August 2020, Qatar Airways is flying to 85 destinations from Doha.
What's it like to fly Qatar Airways right now?
Passenger temperature checks and COVID-19 screening at Hamad International Airport
At Hamad International Airport, handrails, baggage claims, and trolleys and surfaces are disinfected every 15 minutes
Social distancing encouraged during check-in and boarding
Hand sanitizer available in aircraft galley throughout the flight
All passengers must wear face masks and face shields (provided by Qatar Airways) on board
Aircraft use HEPA filters removing 99.97% of the viruses and bacteria in recirculated air
Aircraft disinfected after every flight with IATA and WHO-recommended cleaning products
Glassware, dishes, and cutlery are washed at temperatures that kill pathogenic bacteria.
All passengers receive kits with a face mask, gloves and hand sanitizer
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