United Airlines launches new standard of cleanliness and safety

NEW WAY OF TRAVEL: United Airlines has implemented new health and safety protocols in response to the coronavirus and its impact on travel. Among the new processes are touchless kiosks now available at select airports for a hands-free experience. Photo courtesy United Airlines

United Airlines has committed to delivering an industry-leading standard of cleanliness as the world looks towards a new way of doing business in a post-COVID-19 world, the airline said in a press release.

The airline launched its new program: United CleanPlus. It brings together a most trusted brand in surface disinfection - Clorox - and the country’s top medical experts - Cleveland Clinic - to inform and guide United’s new cleaning, safety and social distancing protocols that includes touchless kiosks in select locations for baggage check-in, sneeze guards, mandatory face coverings for crew and customers, and giving customers options when flights are more full.

Clorox products will be used at United’s hub airports and medical experts from the Cleveland Clinic will advise on new technologies, training development and quality assurance programming, United said in the release.

“Safety has always been our top priority, and right now in the midst of an unprecedented crisis, it’s our singular customer focus,” United CEO Scott Kirby said Thursday Guam time in a video message to customers. “We recognize that COVID-19 has brought cleanliness and hygiene standards to the front of customers’ minds when making travel decisions, and we’re not leaving a single stone unturned in our pursuit to better protect our customers and employees.”

There's no word on when the Guam airport will receive the touchless check-in kiosks. 

Clorox products will first roll out at United’s hub airports in Chicago and Denver and will be used in the gate and terminal areas, with additional locations to follow, United said in the release.

“We’re proud Clorox will play a role in United CleanPlus to enhance people’s safety when they travel,” said Benno Dorer, chair and CEO, The Clorox Company. “Connecting the world more safely, when possible, is an important part of our recovery as a society. Together we are helping people when they travel for work or pleasure. We look forward to working with United to explore more ways to help keep their customers healthy during their travel experience.”

The new safety program also covers the airline’s policies and procedures – from mandatory face coverings, to touchless kiosks in select locations for baggage check-in, to social distancing – and ensure they meet or exceed industry standards, United said in the release.

Medical experts from the Cleveland Clinic will also advise on new technologies, training development and quality assurance programming. And, as scientists learn more about how to fight COVID-19, Cleveland Clinic experts will help United use those discoveries to quickly implement new ways to keep customers safe, United said.

“As the public begins to adjust to a world that’s been altered by the COVID-19 pandemic, health and safety is of the utmost importance,” said Tomislav Mihaljevic, M.D., Cleveland Clinic CEO and president. “We are proud to be part of this program and to share the knowledge we’ve gained as we’ve worked to contain and understand COVID-19 over the past several months. It’s important for everyone to take precautions as we enter this new phase of COVID-19 response, and Cleveland Clinic is pleased to play a role in helping people travel safely.”

United has implemented more than a dozen new policies and procedures aligned with United CleanPlus that are designed with health and safety in mind, including:

In airport lobbies:

· Reducing touchpoints by temporarily shutting down self-service kiosks and beginning to roll out, in select locations, touchless kiosks that allow customers to print bag tags using their own device to scan a QR code.

· Actively promoting social distancing with enhanced signage, including a 6-foot rule at the ticket counters, which allows for minimal contact between agents and customers.

· Deploying sneeze guards at key interaction points, including at check-in counters.

At the gate:

· Boarding fewer customers at a time to allow for more distance during the boarding process, minimizing crowding at the gate and jet bridge.

· Asking customers to self-scan their boarding passes at gate readers.

· Equipping employees with disinfecting products available so they can disinfect high-touch areas including armrests and handrails.

In the United clubs:

· Protective sneeze guards installed at credentialing desks and customer service positions to minimize contact between guests and team members

· Enhanced safety and well-being of team members by requiring the use of personal protective equipment

· Increased frequency of cleaning of high-touch surfaces and equipping team members with disinfectant cleaning products

· Removed seating at the bar area to actively promote physical distancing

· Prepackaged food and beverages available only at the bar area to reduce customer touch points

Onboard aircraft:

· Beginning May 22, United will introduce an “all in one” economy snack bag that replaces the economy beverage and complimentary snack choice service on domestic flights scheduled 2 hours and 20 minutes or more. This bag will include a wrapped sanitizer wipe, an 8.5 oz. bottled water, a Stroopwafel and a package of pretzels

· Enhanced cabin sanitization including electrostatic spraying, which will happen before every flight starting this June

· Requiring all employees and customers on board to wear a mask or face covering, helping protect each other

· Supplying individually wrapped hand sanitizer wipes to customers as they board

· Limiting advance seat selections where possible and allowing customers to take alternative flights when we expect a flight to operate over 70% capacity.

Behind the scenes:

· Implementing employee temperature checks before the start of the workday, better safeguarding their health as well as their teammates’ and customers’

· Employees are producing hand sanitizer that is being used throughout the airline.

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