In an effort to provide more protection against COVID-19 and increase consumer trust, United Airlines on Sept. 16 rolled out its latest safety measure – Zoono Microbe Shield, an Environmental Protection Agency-registered antimicrobial coating – as part of its CleanPlus program.
The shield, which forms a long-lasting bond with surfaces and inhibits the growth of microbes, is part of the airline's latest COVID-19 safety measures, adding to an already "rigorous safety and cleaning" regimen, a release from the organization stated.
An extra level of protection, the coating has been applied weekly to more than 30 aircraft including on seats, trays, armrests and overhead bins – a complement to the airline’s existing daily electrostatic spraying regimen to every departing flight.
“This long-lasting, antimicrobial spray adds an extra level of protection on our aircraft to help better protect our employees and customers,” said Toby Enqvist, United’s chief customer officer. “As part of our layered approach to safety, antimicrobials are an effective complement to our hospital-grade HEPA air filtration system, mandatory mask policy for customers and daily electrostatic spraying. We’ve overhauled our policies and procedures and continue to implement new, innovative solutions that deliver a safer onboard experience.”
Once a week, during deep cleaning, United will use the NovaRover – a professional-grade mist sprayer with a radius of 12 feet within a single spray – to apply the coating in an effort to "refresh and fortify the protective layer, while continuing to electrostatic spray disinfectant to the aircraft cabin before almost every departure," the release stated.
Classified by the EPA as a Category IV, which is the lowest level of toxicity, the shield creates a protective layer that, once dry, ruptures cell walls and membranes when microbes come in contact with it.
Zoono Microbe Shield is currently being applied to aircraft at Chicago O'Hare International Airport with plans to expand to its six other hubs and about 200 U.S. airports. NovaRovers will be deployed at 10 airports, including United's seven hubs.
As part of United CleanPlus, the airline aims to deliver a new level of cleanliness on the ground and in the air. Some of its precautionary measures include:
• Implementing temperature checks for employees and flight attendants working at hubs and other airports throughout the airline's system.
• Installing sneeze guards at check-in and gate podiums.
• Becoming the first airline in the world to roll out touchless check-in capabilities for customers with bags.
At the gate
• Disinfecting high-touch areas such as door handles, handrails, elevator buttons, telephones and computers.
• Providing hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes to customers.
• Rolling out Clorox Total 360 Electrostatic Sprayers in select markets to disinfect gate areas at United's hub airports.
• Enabling customers to self-scan boarding passes
• Boarding fewer customers at a time and, after preboarding, boarding from the back of the plane to the front.
• Using real-time seat assignment update text and email notifications to further United's touchless airport experience.
• Using electrostatic spraying to disinfect aircraft prior to flight.
• Running cabin air circulation system that circulates air through high-efficiency particulate air filters on all mainline aircraft from boarding through deplaning.
• Using UV light to disinfect flight decks.
• Disinfecting high-touch areas – such as tray tables and armrests – prior to boarding.
• Reducing contact between flight attendants and customers during snack and beverage service.
• Deplaning in groups of five rows at a time to reduce crowding.
• Providing onboard items including pillows and blankets upon request.
Information was provided in a release.