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Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines have all made temporary changes to help stop the potential spread of COVID-19 in the skies. United Airlines, too, has adjusted protocols to better protect cabin crew members during the distribution of food and drinks.
Alaska Airlines will not be serving food or drinks on flights traveling less than 250 miles, the Los Angeles Times reports, even in first class. During this time, passengers are advised to bring their own snacks on board. As for longer flights, only bottled drinks and packaged snacks will be distributed.
At American Airlines, temporary updates to maximize social distancing include reduced food and beverage offerings, restricted use of middle seats and the temporary closure of most Admirals Club lounges.
From March 27 through April 30, food and drink service will be reduced based on flight length and destination. According to the carrier, “full service will resume once the COVID-19 situation has stabilized.”
For the time being, for flights shorter than 2,200 miles, alcohol will not be served in the main cabin, but available upon request in first class. Non-alcoholic beverages (water, canned drinks or juice) will be available on request, but no snacks or other food for purchase will be served. Meals will also not be offered in first class.
For flights over 2,200 miles, alcohol will only be served in the Main Cabin and Main Cabin Extra during long-haul, international flights. Alcohol will be available in first class. In the Main Cabin, other drinks will be served as usual, but no snacks or other food for purchase will be served. Meals will be served in the Main Cabin on long haul, international flights, while meals in first and business class will be served on one tray instead of the traditional “courses.”
Effective March 26, American will also temporarily close most of its Admirals Club lounges until further notice. Lounge services -- like food and drink options, restrooms and showers -- will also be suspended. The carrier will, however, keep operating front desk customer service at large air hubs in the U.S. as well as London's Heathrow Airport.
To further encourage safe social distancing during the outbreak in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, American will block out 50 percent of middle seats and all seats adjacent to flight attendant jump seats on every flight.
Starting March 24, gate agents are also allowed to reassign seats to establish more room between passengers during flights. After boarding, customers can also move to a new seat if they desire more space in their ticketed cabin as long as it does not disrupt aircraft weight or balance restrictions.
At Delta, the carrier is cutting back to two snack options in its Main Cabin and Delta Comfort+ classes and providing pre-packaged meals in first class and business class Delta One for flights over 900 miles. Across all cabins, the only beverage available is bottled water, with no alcoholic options offered.
In first class and Delta One, hot towel service has been suspended and glassware is no longer being used. Guests are welcome to bring their own food and drinks on board, the airline said
On the ground, many of the airline's Delta Sky Club lounges have been closed, with food and shower services suspended for the time being.
Southwest, too, suspended beverage and snack services on March 25 on all flights for the foreseeable future, the LA Times reports. Canned water, however, remains available upon request.
The updates are “in accordance with health officials’ recommendations to limit close public interactions during the coronavirus outbreak,” spokesperson Ro Hawthorne said.
Though United has not drastically changed its onboard service options during the coronavirus outbreak, the carrier has adjusted how its flight attendants are serving food and drinks to customers. At present, flight attendants are wearing gloves, serving snacks from trays and no longer refilling beverage cups as precautionary measures, Fox 5 reports.