WestJet to eliminate physical distancing seating policy on its aircraft

Jun 26 2020, 1:03 pm

After blocking the sale of middle seats to promote physical distancing on its aircraft, WestJet is updating its safety protocols and eliminating this measure as demand for domestic travel, and space, increases.

The carrier explains on its website that it unveiled its new Safety Above All program on June 9 and has been “educating governments and guests” on its various enhanced health and safety protocols targeted at ensuring the well-being of cabin crew and passengers.

“As a global airline in a global sector, we are committed to ensuring our protocols are consistent with the best practices and advice available to us from around the world,” it explains.

As such, the site continues, WestJet will be adopting policies from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) regarding “global aviation health and safety” by following its guidance regarding seat distancing beginning July 1, 2020.

IATA’s measures support the elimination of seat distancing as other protocols are implemented in the cabin, including the following:

  • HEPA air filters to recirculate air inside the cabin, which supplies fresh air “introduced every 2-3 minutes.”
  • The physical barrier of seatbacks
  • The direction of airflow from the ceiling to the floor, which minimizes the forward and backward movement of air

“WestJet has built a robust framework to ensure Canadians can travel safely and responsibly through the airline’s Safety Above All program,” the company stated in a media release. “The guidance supports the measures that WestJet has implemented to limit the spread of COVID-19.”

The airline will continue to follow its other stringent sanitization and hygiene measures. These procedures include mandatory non-contact temperature checks before boarding, enhanced cleaning and sterilization of all aircraft touch-points, alterations to inflight service, aircraft fogging, and the requirement that all guests and crew wear facial coverings.

WestJet is adamant that the safety and well-being of its customers and staff is the first priority when any decision is made as the industry evolves to adapt to a “new normal,” claiming that it will continue to alter its procedures to promote the “safest travel experience.”

“This includes spending millions of dollars in cleaning and sanitizing measures, along with personal protective equipment, to ensure the safety and well-being of our guests and our people,” the release explains.

Air Canada is maintaining its blocking of adjacent seats in Economy Class until June 30, 2020.