Qatar Airways expands UK services, now 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.

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Comments

  1. 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!

    • 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.

      • 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.

  2. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

  3. Nick_C says:

    Good that they are providing masks, but one mask will not be sufficient for as long haul flight.

    I wonder if BA will bring in similar PPE for their cabin crew? Disposable uniforms for disposable staff. 😔

  4. There’s no way I’m getting on a plane if I have to do all this face shield stuff. Forget it. Leisure travel isn’t worth that amount of hassle

    • David says:

      Get a grip.

    • Callum says:

      I’d question why you bother traveling for leisure in the first place if it means so little to you!

    • Mingus says:

      Agree. Lots of panic merchants here. I wouldn’t advise my 89 year old grandmother to fly at the moment, and if she needed to travel I’d suggest she used protection like this. But to make it compulsory for everyone is out of all proportion to risk. You’re probably more at risk of malaria when you reach your destination, because you’ve spent so much time worrying about COVID that you’ve forgotten your Malorone.

      • Bonglim says:

        The problem with your approach is some of the protection (the mask) does not protect the wearer – but protects others from the wearer.

        So if your 89 year old grandmother had to travel you should not make her wear a mask, instead make everyone else wear one.

        Vulnerable people do sometimes have to travel. I know a chap who has had his specialist Medical treatment in Israel put on hold because of the pandemic. But someone else in his position will be considering factors like this before deciding to go.

        • Mingus says:

          Your argument does not apply to face shields. They are there to protect other people’s germs landing on your face.

          • Mrs_Fussy says:

            Oh boy! You win some, you lose some.. don’t think I can convince my 3 year old to wear a screen through the flight so that effectively discounts us. Having said that, dont fancy travelling long haul with a 3 year old right now anyway

  5. The Savage Squirrel says:

    Have any of the amusingly outraged “I’ll never fly if .. ” (even though they’d never have flown economy anyway). brigade here actually worn a face-shield? I wear one for eight hours per day and it’s more comfortable and less invasive than any other PPE (including a mask). It’s the only one you can eventually forget you are wearing; It’s no more onerous or uncomfortable than wearing a baseball cap, and you can flip it up to eat/drink in a second. Wearing one where social distancing is not possible (economy) or for five minutes each way (the level of inconvenience that business-class HfP passengers will actually suffer) during boarding – the point when social distancing is most likely to break down given constrictions of airplanes, shuttle busses and airports – seems extremely sensible.

    • RussellH says:

      Although it is very many years since I (occasionally) wore a face-shield I would absolutely agree that face-sheilds are the least uncomfortable and least intrusive form of face protection available. I was a research organic chemist 1970-76, and sometimes did work with some seriously dangerous chemicals.
      Far preferable to goggles as eye-protection, and a facemask – which I wore for the first time ever a few days ago – was seriously unpleasant.

    • My 5 year old would quite possibly kick up hell. There’s only so many times / and a finite amount of time such a thing can be done for a bit of a laugh. His brother nearly 7 would probably have a rage on a bad day too ! Thankfully we have no long haul plans. Just a page of yellow in the easyjet app

      • The Savage Squirrel says:

        I agree that very small children present a different challenge and that a degree of understanding will be necessary and nobody’s suggesting sticking this on a baby – although I’ll repeat, a faceshield should be no problem for any child old enough to keep a hat on their head when asked – and is a lot more likely to be tolerated than any mask. It’s the adults describing this as intolerable that more surprise me. Planes have lots of rules for your safety that are non-negotiable. You have to sit in your assigned seat, wear your seatbelt, and remain there during takeoff/landing, stow luggage appropriately, follow crew instructions etc etc etc. I don’t see this proposal as any more onerous or unreasonable than these other rules; in many ways a lot less onerous.

        • Lady London says:

          Well I dont think most people understand that a sestbelt on a plane is more to stop bodies flying through the air killing and injuring other passengers and piling up blocking the exits if sonething happens, than to protect the passenger themselves who is being told to fasten their safety belt.

          I am pretty sure that if only the first reason above applied for fastening your safety belt then 80% of the so-called civilised Western world wouldn’t take care to fasten their safety belt.

          I’m waiting for when the virus mutates and returns attacking people aged 20-50 and killing a high percentage of them like the Spanish flu did. Especially women in supermarkets many ofvehom seem to have no clue especially when accompanied by children.

    • Dezbez says:

      Serious question S Squirrel – do you think people could forget about them enough to be able to go to sleep in them? I imagine your movements would be very restricted and you wouldn’t be able to sleep for long without waking yourself up?

      • Andrew says:

        Tens of thousands of people go to bed every night with CPAP masks or kit on their faces.

      • The Savage Squirrel says:

        Well it’s less invasive than an eyemask as it’s not touching your face, just your forehead for the elastic strap, so I don’t see why not. Funny how many of the people who find facemasks so “intolerable” have no problem with an eyemask … but then that’s just for your personal benefit, not the benefit of others….

    • Tim M says:

      I wouldn’t fly economy if I had to wear a baseball cap. There are limits.

      • Andrew M says:

        LOL, fantastic!

      • The Savage Squirrel says:

        “I wouldn’t fly economy if I had to wear a baseball cap. There are limits.”

        I can’t argue with that 😀 😀

  6. Charlieface says:

    Quite why airlines are not willing to up the amount of fresh air (rather than recirculated) in the cabin, I don’t understand. It would help a lot with people getting ill on flights. But I suppose it’s less visible so they get less recognition for it.

    • Mr(s) Entitled says:

      Open a window?

    • Lady London says:

      It uses more fuel if more air is taken from outside.
      And fans use fuel on the ground.

      Airlines are trying to claim their cabin air iis changed every 3 minutes and stating they have the same hepa filters as hospitals.

      I just don’t find this convincing on any aircraft except Airbus A350 snd A380 and possiblytgr B787 (unsure as I’ve not flown the Dreamliner enough). On other aircraft I’ve definutely felt my body fighting off an infection if somebody has a nasty cold even 6 or 8 rows ahead.

  7. Gavin says:

    In a way this is akin to airport security.

    Unnecessary for almost everyone except the terrorists or in this case the people with the virus.

    However it does mean Qatar can effectively say “there’s no way you are catching or spreading COVID-19 on our planes” and probably allows them to fly to “clean” countries from “dirty” countries and vice versa.

    • Bonglim says:

      It definitely does not mean Qatar can say that.

      The best they can say is they have taken a good number of steps to reduce the risk of transmission.

      If you are sat next to a highly infectious person, in economy, for several hours, with all the ppe my estimation is that you are likely to catch covid. As in over 50%. All the steps probably reduce it from 80% to 65%.

      One of the biggest concerns in public health is people thinking that by taking appropriate steps they are complete safe. Could not be further from the truth.

      • Bonglim says:

        ‘All the Ppe’ means all the Ppe provided for the flight – not all the Ppe possible.

      • Stoneman says:

        Yup. I am staggered that given we have access to amazing resources via that thing called google the levels of ignorance people have towards the effects of masks, shields etc, is so high.

  8. Ridiculous. Absolutely over the top.

  9. Aston100 says:

    Really good move.
    I also disliked the previous ppe worn by crew.

    Qatar have had so much positive publicity throughout this Corona crisis.

  10. Nick_C says:

    After three months of lockdown we still have more than 100 deaths a day in the UK, yet some people are still not taking it seriously.

    • Mingus says:

      How many of those deaths are from marathon-running women in their twenties, Nick?

      Here are the stats:

      https://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2020/07/COVID-19-total-announced-deaths-2-Jul-2020.xlsx

      For most people the risk is incredibly low. Protect those at risk, but let normality return for those who are not.

      • Nick_C says:

        Women are certainly at lower risk of dying than men (roughly half the risk). But young healthy women can infect the more vulnerable.

        Clearly, you only care about yourself.

        • unbelievable says:

          Exactly. The virus isn’t being spread by those who are sick and self-isolating, it’s being spread by those who don’t know/don’t care if they have it, believe they know more than the medical experts and think that their needs and wants are more important than anybody else.

    • Here’s the thing …. Scotland is now into negative net deaths. It is very possible that, over 2020 as a whole, fewer people die than usual in the UK, not more. 50k CV deaths (plus all those from undiagnosed cancer etc) can easily be offset by lack of death elsewhere. I would expect very few Winter flu deaths this year for example due to distancing. Lots of other nasty diseases, spread person to person, are also in retreat for obvious reasons.

      • Lady London says:

        Let’s hope you’re right Rob. If we keep social distancing, PPE for others’ as well as our own sakes even if we feel perfectly well, and all go back to work so that we can try to stop other things people are currently not receiving help with killing them, this will be the best we can do for now.

        I agree with you about other suffering also killing people because surgeries are being delayed and the effects of poverty. So all but the vulnerable must now circulate but with care.

  11. Nick Burch says:

    SYD-DOH is 15 hours, I can’t see this being comfortable for that long. One single mask for that length flight won’t be in great shape by the end

    Loadings are such that you can normally get 3 seats in economy, so plenty of space, sleeping spread over 3 seats with one of these on will be “fun” too…

    (Then another 7 hours onto LHR, going to be interesting coming home in a fortnight!)

    • Louie says:

      Are you having to apply for a permit to leave (i.e Oz citizen or PR)? If so, how have you found the process?

      • Nick Burch says:

        If you go to the form to apply for a departure exemption, it says

        If you meet the following criteria you do not need to apply for an exemption:
        * people ordinarily resident in a country other than Australia

        So, I’m assuming I’ll just hand over my UK driving license along with passport at the exit immigration check, and all will be fine…

    • Disappointingly Qatar didn’t put out a picture of someone trying to eat with a face shield on. They did apparently release a PR picture a few weeks ago showing a passenger about to place a fork of food into her mouth whilst wearing a face mask, but sadly deleted it soon afterwards!

      • The Savage Squirrel says:

        Just flip it up to eat (think wearing a baseball cap but pulling it further back on your head so the peak tilts upwards). It’s not an issue.

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