United Airlines Starts Maximized Ventilation to Reduce COVID-19 Spread
United Airlines is trying a new technique to keep passengers safe and reduce the spread of the novel Coronavirus. Starting now, the airline will maximize air flow volume for the in-aircraft HEPA filter system during the boarding and deplanement.
To encourage flyers to once again board their aircraft, United Airlines is trying a new tactic to help stop the spread of the novel Coronavirus. In the press release, the airline announced they would maximize air flow volume on airplanes during the boarding and deplaning process, with full implementation expected by July 27, 2020.
United Says Constant Circulation Refreshes Air Every Three Minutes
Under the new plan, United will run their air ventilation system at maximum power on all mainline aircraft with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration systems throughout the boarding and disembarking processes. According to a United video, running their air systems at the maximum rate could refresh the air within the cabin up to every three minutes, removing 99.97 percent of air particles.
As a result, the airline says that the in-cabin air quality would be “significantly cleaner” than without the ventilation process. In particular, United claims that air quality on their aircraft could be cleaner than “restaurants, grocery stores, schools or even some hospitals.”
“We know the environment on an aircraft is safe and because the air flow is designed to minimize the transmission of disease, the earlier we maximize air flow over our HEPA filtration system, the better for our crew and our customers,” Scott Kirby, CEO of United, said in a press release. “The quality of the air, combined with a strict mask policy and regularly disinfected surfaces, are the building blocks towards preventing the spread of COVID-19 on an airplane.”
Other partners suggest maximizing and maintaining airflow through HEPA-certified filters could be the key to preventing the spread of COVID-19 aboard aircraft. Earlier in 2020, technology company Teague designed and proposed using an “air shield” concept to help protect travelers from catching the novel Coronavirus from cabin air contact.
Airline Continues to Book to Capacity
The airflow maximization plan, alongside mandatory mask requirements, are all part of United’s approach to keeping customers safe and preventing the spread of COVID-19. However, the airline continues to book aircraft to capacity, making the middle seat available to flyers despite social distancing recommendations.
Although mandatory face mask usage is one of the primary measures flyers want while traveling, some are still uncomfortable with middle seat bookings. A Consumer Reports petition called on the federal government to make open middle seats mandatory for all airlines, during the COVID-19 pandemic.