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Qatar Airways insists economy passengers wear a face shield AND a mask

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Qatar Airways is flying to more places than any other long-haul airline at the moment.  In July, it will be operating:

  • London Heathrow: 3 flights per day, all A350 with Qsuite
  • Edinburgh: 3 flights per week
  • Manchester: 11 flights per week 
  • Dublin: 1 flight per day, all A350 with Qsuite

That’s 42 flights per week from the UK and Ireland.

The airline has shown a very strong commitment to passenger safety throughout coronavirus.  I wasn’t convinced that the PPE required to be worn by cabin crew was necessary:

Qatar Airways cabin crew PPE

….. although apparently customer feedback was positive.  This was on the basis that anyone travelling long-haul in recent weeks wasn’t travelling for fun, and accepted those measures as necessary.  This is now being replaced by a protective gown, however, which looks a bit more approachable:

Qatar Airways new cabin crew gown

Long haul leisure travel is opening up, however slowly.  This is why I am less convinced by the latest move – COMPULSORY face shields for all economy passengers.  This is on top of a face mask.

Here are the shields that Qatar Airways provides, adult and child:

Qatar Airways face shield

I don’t have a picture of a face shield in action, unfortunately.

For clarity, these are only compulsory in Economy, and must be worn with a face mask as well.  Business Class passengers will be given the choice of whether to wear one or not. They will be supplied at check-in or during boarding.

Passengers will be provided with a complimentary protective kit. Inside a ziplock pouch, they will find a single-use surgical face mask, disposable powder-free gloves and hand sanitiser gel.

Perhaps I’m out of touch with the public mood here and people want to wear masks and face shield in Economy for security.  Let’s see.

Comments (127)

  • Andrew says:

    Much more sensible PPE uniform. It was a major security risk being in a generic, unbranded white suit with most of their face covered – you could easily find a passenger impersonating a crew member to gain access to the flight deck etc as these are outfits that some passengers wear. And at the less sinister end, you might end up asking a fellow passenger for another gin and tonic as they pass!

    • Callum says:

      I think access to the flight deck is a lot more sophisticated than “yes, they look like they’re wearing the QR uniform, just let them in”!

      Otherwise they could just do exactly the same by buying/stealing/making a QR uniform.

    • Bagoly says:

      I so often get asked “Where is my seat?” in theatres etc, presumably because I stand straight and usually dress formally.
      Recently I was decidedly dressed down, but still got asked in a supermarket where something was!
      So I am all for recognisable uniforms!

      • Rob says:

        In my banking days I would occasionally pop along to John Lewis Oxford Street at lunchtime in typical navy suit / tie. It was very difficult to do a trip without being stopped at least once for directions or advice.

        • Lady London says:

          People used to ask me for directions in airports when I used to wear navy blue suits and used a pullalong suitcase when most people hadn’t started using them.

  • jc says:

    And do they mandate whether the mask should be inside or outside the shield?

  • Alex M says:

    I think the shield is a great idea – protect eyes too.

    • AJA says:

      The face shield only protects the eyes. That’s why you need to wear a face mask over your mouth and nose as well

  • Steven Campbell says:

    For me this seems entirely reasonable and appropriate given the ongoing viral spread and the density of economy class seating.

  • BJ says:

    Surprised they have gone this far. What next, installation self-sanitising Japanese toilets and requesting that men sit to pee?

  • memesweeper says:

    Given that masks protect everyone on the plane to some extent, making them mandatory is justifiable.

    Shields, AFAIK, are designed to protect the wearer. On that basis I think they ought to be optional. Handing them out and encouraging their use is a good move though.

  • abc says:

    I think this is a really good idea. It probably would push some people towards Qatar if their is a choice of airlines. I certainly would think it will be saver to fly them because of this. Not necessarily because the shields in additiona to masks will make a major difference (though it’s plausible it could make some difference), but because it will make people who think coronavirus isn’t very dangerous less likely to choose them. Those people are generally more likely to have it, so I’d prefer to not have them on my plane!

    • Rob says:

      The current figure for my square mile of West London is 8 cases per 100,000 people. There’s something wrong with you if you consider that high risk. City of London, Cornwall and Gloucestershire are under 1 per 100,000 people.

      • Nick says:

        The problem with any figures is that they aren’t accurate because this virus is very clever and a portion of people It infections remain asymptomatic but highly infectious and that’s what makes it dangerous for a continuous pandemic coupled with current research suggesting antibodies are lasting only 45 days post infection which means you can’t establish long term herd immunity through the usual route of B-memory cells. (Not even mentioning that we have no clear idea if antibodies against one strain protect from another strain of COVID-19).

        I’m a doctor and I myself had a positive covid-19 result but had absolutely no idea I had the virus I had no symptoms at all and the only reason I even found out was because we had an outbreak on the ward and swabbed all the staff….

        • Blindman says:

          And like 80% of people that caught it you survived with no ill effects.

          • Andrew says:

            But it’s not a very nice illness for a couple of weeks. Same reason we have fridges, because we don’t want food poisoning, won’t kill us but isn’t pleasant.

          • Lady London says:

            And infected how many, directly or indirectly that might suffer seriously from it? (that’s no offence meant to @Nick).

            With respect, when will people understand? we do need economically to all go back to as normal as we can be asap. But treat covid with the respect it deserves. Covid is not done with us yet.

          • Andrew says:

            Absolutely – surely what’s happening in the US is evidence enough that if you exit lockdown too early and go about without a care for social distancing it comes back big time.

          • Callum says:

            Some people will never understand because they’re inherently selfish. While most of them won’t come out and say it, the general attitude amongst them is “I’ll probably be fine if I get it, f*** everyone else”.

          • Harpo says:

            I’m a doctor too, and I don’t think that’s Nick’s point. Asymptomatic carriers are fine in themselves; it’s the vulnerable people they pass it on to that’s a problem, and without regular testing that prevalence remains a nasty unknown. If people could switch their mindset that masks, distancing and hygiene precautions were for others’ benefit rather than their own we’d all be better off. I’m dolled up like a proper Charlie at work, because it’s me and the staff coming and going to and from work who put the patients at risk. I hate it, I could never have done a surgical specialty, but needs must.
            I say well done Qatar. If you do have to fly, put your gear on and save your neighbour’s granny.

      • GaryC says:

        Having an infection rate of 8 per 100,000 clearly means the risk of an individual being infected *today* is low, but that misses the point entirely. The number of current cases is almost irrelevant if it’s above zero, and R is not constrained below 1. And given there’s precious little room to manoeuvre in the small window between R=0.7 (prior “full” lockdown) and R=1.0, we are reliant on numerous small measures such as this one by Qatar. So personally I welcome it, and would have no issue with complying.

  • David Cohen says:

    I flew with BA from Berlin back to London on Monday and there was one person wearing a face-shield and a mask on the flight.

    Ironically he must have been 18 – 20 years old, and was decked out in FFP3 mask, face shield, gloves and mobile phone in zip-lock bag. I’m guessing he had an over-protective parent.

    Everyone else was just in a mask (with a few wearing gloves too).

    • Lady London says:

      He may have been in a vulnerable group but needed to travel.

      • Ian says:

        Nobody needs to travel if they’re in the most vulnerable group.

    • Andrew says:

      Isn’t FFP3 selfish?

      They have a vent to maximise exhaled air flow so all his poz laden breath will be jetting out to either side.

      • CV3V says:

        Some P3, and some P2 masks dont have the flap. Its another example of where clear advice would help as i saw someone on TV last night describe the flap as a filter, which its not.

        Also be careful with the Chinese KN95 masks which are being sold as the equivalent of P2, having bought some the fitting of them is awful, and are uncomfortable, and offers less protection than a basic dust mask. KN95 is a chinese standard to emulate the US N95 masks, but HSE dont recognise KN95 as RPE.

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