Alaska Airlines announces updated requirements for social distancing and the warning of masks. These changes will go into effect on Monday, May 11, 2020. To give you some perspective, I have links to recent posts that I wrote about this subject. These posts describe enhanced aircraft cleaning procedures and new face mask and social distancing procedures by Alaska Airlines.
Face Mask Requirements
Alaska Airlines joins other airlines in requiring passengers to wear face masks beginning May 11, 2020. This is being done to be in compliance with CDC recommendations. This section of the post will cover the following issues:
- When guests are expected to wear a face covering,
- Who is required to wear a face covering,
- If guests are allowed to take their face covering off to eat or drink,
- What happens if a guest refuses to wear a face covering,
Passengers will be expected to wear a face-covering throughout any Alaska Airlines touchpoints and during the flight experience until further notice. Additional masks will be available, as supplies allow, for those who forget to bring one. Details about face-covering requirements will be shared with guests in pre-trip communications before their date of travel. The temporary policy will be reevaluated periodically as guidance evolves. To make sure that there are no misunderstandings, here are the answers to your questions directly from the Alaska Airlines FAQs:
Who is required to wear a face-covering—are there any exceptions?
All guests 12 years and older are required to wear a face covering. Parents or guardians are strongly encouraged to provide a face covering for children ages 2 to 11.
Exceptions will be made for young children under the age of two, who cannot maintain a face covering on their own and guests who have an underlying medical condition (including the use of a breathing device) that prevents them from being able to wear a face-covering in alignment with best practice guidelines from the CDC.
If a guest is exempt, how should they notify Alaska Airlines?
Guests are encouraged to communicate their exemption with an Alaska Airlines representative when they arrive at the airport. Note: In line with health privacy laws, guests are not required to disclose or prove their specific medical condition to airline employees and are asked to notify our airport staff upon boarding. Airport staff will inform the flight attendants of guests who have a medical exemption.
Where are guests required to wear face coverings?
Guests will be required to wear a face-covering at all times they are near an Alaska Airlines touchpoint including the check-in lobby, Lounges, boarding gates, jetbridges, loading ramps and stairs, on the aircraft, during the flight (except when consuming food or drink) and at baggage claim. Usage is also highly encouraged in high traffic areas such as security lines, restrooms and other areas throughout the airport.
Are guests allowed to take their face coverings off to eat or drink on a flight?
Yes, guests will be allowed to remove the mask or face covering to consume food or drink during the flight.
What types of face-covering are considered acceptable?
Face coverings should cover a guest’s nose and mouth in alignment with best practice guidelines from the CDC. These include but are not limited to scarves, bandanas, or other forms of face protection.
When does this policy go into effect?
This policy goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. May 11, 2020. It will be in effect until further notice.
Will Alaska Airlines be supplying face coverings for guests?
Guests should bring their own face coverings, but we will have face coverings available, as supplies allow, in the check-in lobby and boarding gates for guests who forgot their mask at home.
Will Alaska’s employees also be wearing masks?
Yes, Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air employees, and our business partners, who cannot maintain six feet of social distance during interactions with guests or co-workers, started wearing face coverings May 4. This includes pilots, flight attendants and customer service agents.
What if a guest refuses to wear a face-covering at the airport?
If a guest arrives at the airport and refuses to wear a face covering, they will be denied boarding. If a guest is denied boarding, they can rebook their travel with one of our agents at the airport or update their travel online at alaskaair.com or contact our Reservations team at 1 (800) 252-7522.
Social Distancing Requirements
Social distancing procedures will be in place both in the terminal and on board the aircraft. In addition to the face mask requirements, there are safety and social distancing measures Alaska Airlines is taking at the airport and in the air to support employees and passengers. Here is a list of measures that are being introduced:
- Expanded enhanced cleaning on flights, which includes use of high-grade, EPA registered disinfectants to sanitize critical touchpoints like tray tables, seat belts, overhead bins, armrests and lavatories.
- Expanded use of electrostatic sanitizing spray to disinfect aircraft interiors.
- Limiting the number of passengers onboard and blocking middle seats on large aircraft and aisle seats on small aircraft through May 31, 2020.
- Enhanced and more frequent cleaning of airport counters, lounges and high-traffic areas.
- Social distancing floor decals rolled out this week at airports to remind guests and employees to remain separated by at least six feet.
- Providing disposable surgical and re-usable fabric masks for employees.
- Continued use of hospital-grade air filters on all planes. These HEPA filters are proven effective in removing airborne particles and cycle new air into the cabin every three minutes.
Passengers will be expected to observe the “mind your wingspan” decals in the terminal to maintain social distancing. Until further notice, passengers booking economy seats will see the middle seats are blocked. First class capacity will be reduced to only 50% of the available seats. Here are the details directly from Alaska Airlines:
Has Alaska Airlines installed social distancing stickers at airports they serve?
Yes. We’re installing social distancing decals to remind people to ‘Mind Your Wingspan,’ at each one of our airports where we fly. The stickers, spanning 6 feet apart, can be found at our ticketing counters, baggage drops, customer service centers and gate areas. The Alaska branded stickers will be deployed systemwide over the coming weeks.
Has Alaska Airlines blocked middle seats on the plane?
Yes, we’ve blocked all middle seats, except for families, to give our guests more space and the flexibility they need to achieve social distancing on large aircraft and aisle seats on smaller aircraft at the time of purchase through June 30. First Class seat sales are capped at 50 percent.
Can families or large groups sit together if they want to on the plane?
Yes. Families or large groups who choose can sit together by reaching out to our Reservations team at 1 (800) 252-7522 or to one of our agents at the airport.
- If you’re a family or large group who wants to sit together, feel free to make the request with reservations or at the airport.
- At the airport, if you’re uncomfortable with the distance between you and others, please speak with a customer service agent about your options.
Additional Details That May Affect Your Flight
- No change/cancellation fees for travel through December 31, 2020.
- Travel restrictions are in effect for multiple regions.
- Was your flight changed or canceled?
You can find the answers to these questions and others by clicking here.
Is this the new normal? It looks like it will be for at least the near future. The post has a lot of information to digest but understanding the new policies will make your next flight easier for you and those who serve you at Alaska Airlines. The airline will continue to monitor the situation and amend the new policies as deemed necessary.
Stay well, stay distant, wash your hands frequently and we will all get through this together.