Navigating the New Travel Landscape: Airlines Develop New Safety Standards

What airline travel looks like during a global pandemic.
By Carrie Fediuk

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The focus of the Michigan Alumni Travel program is first and foremost on the health and safety of its travelers. We know the landscape of the travel program is changing with the current pandemic and want to provide you with the best information available. To that end, we have created a series of blog posts that will help you navigate travel when you are ready to get back out there. 

Today we focus on how airlines are working to ensure traveler safety.

It has been just over three months since I returned home from my winter getaway to Florida. I haven’t been on a plane since, but my daughter, who lives in New York, is coming home to Michigan at the end of June and is booked on a Delta flight.

Being a concerned mom, I started to look to see what safety and cleaning measures Delta has in place and saw steps are being implemented from check-in to baggage claim. Here is a sampling of new precautions:

  • Face masks: All travelers must wear a face mask during the flight.
  • Capacity: Through Sept. 30, 2020, Delta is capping seating at 50% for first class, 60% for domestic flights in the main cabin, and 75% for international flights.
  • Boarding: Delta is only boarding 10 passengers at a time to ensure social distancing. They will start boarding from the back of the plane and work forward.
  • Embarkation: When deplaning, rows will be called one at a time to disembark.
  • Blocking middle seats: Currently, all middle seats will continue to be shown as unavailable or not assignable during seat selection.
  • Cleaning protocols: Delta will ensure cleanliness by wiping down its check-in lobbies, self-service kiosks, gate counters, and baggage claims many times throughout the day. By summer, Delta will be using electrostatic spraying in all airports it serves in the U.S.
  • Onboard air quality: Delta will be using air circulation systems with industrial-grade HEPA filters on many of its aircraft that extract more than 99.99% of particles, including viruses.

While I have to admit I’m still a bit concerned (moms never stop!), I think all these measures will become commonplace and are good steps to ensure passenger health and safety, particularly as I am sure I will be back on a flight soon.

Other airlines, like United and American, are implementing similar programs. Check your airline’s website before your trip to learn each carrier’s specific protocols.


Michigan Alumni Travel trips are focused on the safety of our travelers. We will work closely with our tour operators to develop protocols to protect you throughout your trip, including during your flight.

Look for upcoming blog posts in this series around traveling safely.

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