How flight attendants are doing things differently during the coronavirus outbreak

As more and more countries battle the spread of the coronavirus, one of the main industries affected is tourism. On March 11, President Donald Trump announced that non-U.S. citizens from Europe would be banned from entering the United States for the next 30 days starting on Friday. According to USA Today , the travel industry is expected to lose more revenue due to the impact of the coronavirus than it did after 9/11. Even though the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has made it clear that most viruses and bacteria are not easily spread on airplanes, Americans are still particularly cautious about flying.

Busy spoke to two Atlanta-based flight attendants, Scott* and Frieda*, about what flight attendants are doing differently during the coronavirus outbreak.

Can coronavirus spread on airplanes?

The spread of coronavirus means people who are still traveling need to be as vigilant about hygiene as possible – and they should always be doing so.

"When I was working this weekend, everyone had a pack of wipes and was wiping everything down," Frieda tells Bustle. "This is probably the cleanest airplane ever built."

According to AFAR magazine, many airlines have implemented additional cleaning services between flights or at the end of the travel day. Delta announced in a statement that it will use EPA-registered disinfectants and a novel "fogging" process to sanitize its aircraft, as well as "implement additional sanitation procedures for inbound dining equipment at its international gateways."

Frieda said concerns about the spread of coronavirus are also a good time to debunk common air travel myths. “I know there’s always been this myth that the air in the cabin is recirculated, but that’s not the case. The air in the cabin is filtered and comes from the outside. When you’re on a boat, you simply don’t breathe the same air over and over again. Air."

Some flight attendants are treating coronavirus like flu season

For these flight attendants, dealing with the coronavirus is not much different than a normal day on a plane, as they know passengers may be suffering from any illness.

"I'm just a little more worried than normal flu season," Scott tells Bustle. "People sometimes get sick and choose to fly anyway. Changing flights is difficult and expensive." (Many airlines are now waiving change fees for passengers who want to reschedule their trip.)

How coronavirus precautions are changing travel norms

"I like it when people are cleaner than usual," Frieda said. She said that before the coronavirus outbreak, she often saw passengers "emerging from airplane bathrooms barefoot and apparently not taking enough time to wash their hands." Frieda also said the passengers were "extremely friendly" now. She hopes passengers' increased focus on personal hygiene and empathy will continue after the public health crisis is over.

“People who are not actually sick often don’t take these precautions when traveling” — such as wiping down seats, armrests, seat belts and tray tables, and practicing proper hand washing after using the bathroom — “but they may It should be done,” she said.

How coronavirus may affect travel industry jobs

As airlines have seen a drop in new ticket bookings, their revenue has also fallen. According to USA Today , nearly all major airlines have cut their flight schedules as a result. Some airlines may even reduce flights by as much as 70% due to the impact of the coronavirus, which is a significant number compared to 40% in the two months after 9/11.

"Our company has talked about reducing our flight schedule, which means less flights, which means less hours for us to work," Frieda said. She's been flying with the airline long enough that she likely won't be affected by the furlough, which typically affects new hires first. As part of a two-income family without children, she also feels privileged to have savings. She worries that less senior flight attendants and those with children or single-parent families may be affected.

Because of the flight attendant union, each crew member has a clause in their contract about how long they can take off, Scott said. He said the union had been in close communication with its members about what steps were being taken to ensure no members lost "more money than we need" during this period.

How flight attendants are coping during the coronavirus pandemic

Flight attendants are constantly dealing with stressful situations. Frieda said that in her experience, overreacting can make them more difficult to manage.

"In our line of work, anything can cause a plane to be delayed. Anything can happen during a flight that can ruin your day or your plans," Scott said. "As flight attendants, we're already planning... one day at a time. Right now, we know the schedule for April, but we don't know the schedule for May. That's normal for us."

“My concern isn’t necessarily catching viruses and contracting diseases while traveling,” Frieda said. "My concern is being quarantined for two weeks, or being stuck in another country and not being able to go home."

Frieda said that when it comes to the latest news about the coronavirus, her friends and industry colleagues don't really discuss it other than to complain about all the wet wipes they now have to pick up.

However, after Trump announced coronavirus travel restrictions, Scott said things may start to change.

Both Scott and Frieda encouraged passengers to avoid traveling if sick and to practice good hygiene on board.

“All the little things that people would have done are things that we want people to do now,” Scott said.

* Names have been changed to protect privacy.

If you think you have symptoms of coronavirus, including fever, shortness of breath and cough, call your doctor before getting tested. If you are concerned about the spread of the virus in your community, visit the CDC or NHS 111 in England for the latest information and resources, or to seek mental health support. You can find all of Bustle's coronavirus coverage here, as well as UK-specific coronavirus updates.