• ‘We are encouraging extra cabin bags, reducing the risk of COVID-19. Checked-in bags pass through eight different sets of hands and significantly increase the risk of COVID-19’ – Ryanair

By Andrew Atkinson

New government guidelines have been issued to protect crew and passengers on board flights – as airlines returned to the skies on June 21 – in the wake of coronavirus travel restrictions being lifted.

Recommendations include to reduce interaction – and avoid transmission of COVID-19 on board planes.

The DfT suggested airlines limit duty free or other non-essential product sales on board and accompany the procedures, to minimise the contact between crew and passengers; reducing food and drink service and reduce movement of passengers within aircraft.

The DfT said the purpose of limiting trolley services is to reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus, limiting interaction between passengers and cabin crew, in line with guidance from European Aviation Safety Agency and the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

“We have reduced our inflight service, which will be confined to pre-packed products, which many of our customers correctly consider to be essential,” said a Ryanair spokesperson.

Ryanair returned to commercial flights – to and from Alicante-Elche airport on June 21 – for the first time since lockdown in mid-March.

The government are advising passengers to check in all baggage, including hand luggage and remain seated as much as possible during the flight.

According to the DfT, limiting hand-luggage will mean passengers can board more rapidly, deeming they won’t be obliged to walk up and down aisles – in search of overhead locker space – potentially spreading coronavirus.

Ryanair customers can pay an extra £6 to £20 per person – for its Priority Boarding – and select the second cabin bag option, in a COVID-19 safety measure.

“We are encouraging extra cabin bags, because this reduces the risk of COVID-19. Checked-in bags pass through eight different sets of hands and significantly increase the risk of COVID-19,” said a Ryanair spokesperson.

Wizz Air has maintained it is fully compliant with all local and international health guidelines: “Wizz Air has been leading the industry re-start for almost two months, with its stringent health and hygiene measures, ensuring passengers and crew are protected and that the airline fully meets all local and international health guidelines.

“Wizz Air’s enhanced hygiene measures ensure the most sanitary conditions on board and reduce any non-essential physical contact.

“For the airline’s onboard services, all products are packaged and all payments are encouraged to be contactless.

“Passengers and crew are required to wear face masks, with crew also required to wear gloves. Onboard magazines have been removed and aircraft are regularly disinfected with an industry-leading fogging process and further disinfected overnight with the same antiviral solution.

“Wizz Air’s number one priority has been and always will be the safety, health and wellbeing of its passengers and crew.”