Many airlines have recently modified their policies to require customers to wear face masks as a safety measure during the COVID-19 pandemic. The move has led to some uncertainty around how the new face mask rules will impact food and beverage service, but some airlines have provided clarity.
Lufthansa Group has modified its food and beverage service to reduce touchpoints between its cabin crew and customers. The airline has discontinued its beverage service and will distribute water bottles to customers instead. Additionally, dining service will be discontinued on long-haul intercontinental flights and replaced with a tray service.
Face coverings can be temporarily removed to eat and drink, but must be placed back on afterwards. Passengers will also still be permitted to bring their own food and drink onboard.
Since the wearing of a mask or scarf as a mouth-and-nose cover is now compulsory in many European countries, Lufthansa Group assumes that the overwhelming majority of passengers will supply their own mask, but the airline will have individual masks on board for emergencies.
A reusable fabric mask is recommended, but all other types of coverings such as simple disposable masks or scarves are also possible. The airlines will inform their passengers in advance by SMS or e-mail and on their websites about the new regulation, and the obligation to wear the mask will initially apply until August 31, 2020.
JetBlue confirms that it will still be providing a snack and water to passengers, and they will be welcome to adjust the face covering while actively eating and drinking. Passengers will also be permitted to bring their own food and drink onboard the plane. The airline plans to have a small number of masks on hand that can be provided to customers, but believes that the vast majority of its customers already have face coverings that they prefer.
JetBlue defines a face covering as any well-secured cloth (like a bandana or scarf) or mask that covers the nose and mouth. The CDC offers guidance on face coverings and JetBlue is directing its customers to the CDC website for further details on effective face coverings.
American Airlines says that it will be providing additional guidance regarding face cover utilization prior to the May 11 implementation date. The airline has, however, confirmed that customers will be able to remove their mask to eat and drink on the aircraft, and customers will always be able to bring their own food and non-alcoholic drinks on the aircraft.
While customers are expected to bring their own masks or face coverings they’re comfortable with when they travel, American is also working to procure face masks and hand sanitizer as a supplement.