PICTURES: What it’s really like to fly with British Airways during the pandemic

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British Airways returned to the skies in July following the coronavirus lockdown. However, flights revamped with a host of new measures to keep passengers and crew safe. Recently, flew on a short-haul flight with the airline and gained and insight into what travellers can expect on for future journeys.

The airline says that it has ramped up cleaning measures behind-the-scenes, which means aircraft are fully disinfected before passengers even board.

This should give traveller some peace of mind that seats and surfaces are free from germs and bacteria, with the airline stating: “Every key surface is disinfected after every flight and we clean our aircraft from nose to tail every day.

“We sanitise key surfaces before every flight, from your seat to your screen, seat buckle and tray tables.”

Though the cleaning happened pre-boarding, upon entering the plane it is noticeable that there is no litter or rubbish left behind from previous journeys.

Social distancing is maintained where possible in airports and passengers are called to board in groups, based on seat numbers.

However, the airline has said that social distancing is not possible onboard, which meant on our journey we were seated beside a stranger.

British Airways does note the use of HEPA filters onboard though, which is said to vastly improve air quality.

As the British-carrier’s website explains: “HEPA filters remove microscopic bacteria and virus clusters with over 99.9 percent efficiency, equivalent to hospital operating theatre standards.”

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Personal hygiene is also taken into consideration, with passengers being handed a “personal protection pack” upon boarding.

The sealed plastic bag comes with hand sanitiser and an antibacterial wipe to clean off surfaces surrounding your seat.

Flight crew enforce a strict face mask rule, which they also follow themselves.

This means all travellers are required to wear a mask for the duration of the flight.

“As a guide, they last up to four hours, so bring enough for the duration of your trip,” recommends British Airways.

Last year the airline removed its free food and beverage service on short-haul economy flights and replaced it with a new M&S food offering.

However, amid the ongoing pandemic, this service has been halted.

All passengers are now given food or snacks in a sealed plastic bag.

As our journey was just 40 minutes, we received one bottle of water, a bag of crisps and a small bag of pretzels.

For short-haul journeys in economy the airline states: “We offer complimentary refreshments, including vegetarian options, along with a bottle of water. Please speak to a member of crew if you would like a juice or hot drink. Our ‘buy on board’, pre-pay and pre-order services are temporarily suspended.”

In short-haul business class passengers are able to choose from breakfast or all-day snack, including a vegetarian option, along with soft drinks, juices, water or a hot drink.

Alcoholic drinks are also on offer serves as miniatures or individual quarter bottles.

For long-haul economy and premium economy, passengers receive breakfast or all-day options, along with a selection of alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks.

In business, passengers are offered an elevated version of the breakfast or vegetarian option, along with drinks.

In First Class, passengers can select an alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks from the bar service.

Dining includes an “a la carte menu” complete with both hot and cold items.

In all cases, pre-pay and pre-order services are suspended.

When it comes to service, contact with the crew is dramatically reduced aside from the meal service and subsequent rubbish collection to attempt social distancing where possible.

However, the crew are on hand to answer questions when needed.

In a similar attempt at social distancing, passengers are asked not to queue for the bathroom and instead follow the vacant and engaged signs which are located above the aisle.

While the British Airways inflight experience is notably different now, for would-be holidaymakers with concerns, the visible cleanliness onboard should provide some comfort.

“You’ll see changes at every step of the journey when you fly with us, with new protective measures on the ground and in the air,” says the British Airways website.

“Your safety remains at the heart of everything we do.”

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