Illustration by ARIANA MARALIT

New sanitation protocols, intensified procedures, tightened security—how will flying look like when commercial flights begin? We asked top local airlines Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, and Air Asia Philippines how air travel will be different in the next chapter.

domestic flight-01

Ground and flight crew will be suited up in PPEs.
Perhaps the most visible reminder that flying has changed—at least until we get the vaccine—will be the personal protective equipment (PPE) that airline crew and staff will be donning whether inflight or on the ground. PPEs will be the new uniforms. Air Asia Philippines took it up a notch by getting famed designer Puey Quinonesto design the “red hot” PPEs for the airline. Says Sheila Romero, vice chairman for Air Asia Philippines, says, “I chose to have PPE material that is approved by the Department of Health to protect our Allstars.” The uniforms will have the airline’s logo, face shields, hoods, long pants, and sleeves. It was launched on a recovery flight from Bangkok to Manila a few weeks ago. The US-based designer says the suits are made of breathable, sturdy material. “I want to boost the morale of our staff when they wear this new uniform, I want it to be chic and sporty,” Romero adds.

DIY is the way to go.
From self check in kiosks to bag drop counters—the rule will be, the lesser the human contact, the better. Both Philippine Airlines (PAL) and Cebu Pacific have reminded its customers to check-in online for faster processing.

You really need to go to the airport earlier.
Check in counters will now be closed 60 minutes (as opposed to 45 minutes) before the flight departs for Cebu Pacific, and PAL have issued guidelines that domestic passengers are now required to be at the airport three hours before boarding (as opposed to the previous two hours). And because Cebu Pacific will only allow one representative of a family to take care of baggage check-ins, it makes sense to be at the airport as early as you can.

Minimal human-to-human contact will be practiced all throughout.
Social distancing is the norm, but air travel is, pun intended, set to go above and beyond.

When boarding with Cebu Pacific, passengers will be required to hold out their boarding passes with the barcode facing the airline staff for touchless scanning. Passengers will also now have to stow their own handcarry bags in the overhead bins and will be expected to practice self-disposal of trash and waste at the end of the flight. The airline has also said that middle seats will be kept vacant as much as possible to give way for social distancing on board.

Passengers will be required to wear masks, and will be thermally scanned.
It goes without saying that all passengers will be required to wear masks. At PAL, even purchasing tickets at counters will require you to be checked and thermally scanned.

Changes in bag allowance
Say goodbye to seven kg hand-carry allocations,  PAL has cut it down to two, but has added five kg allocation to the check-in. PAL now allows 10 100 ml bottles of liquid provided these are disinfectants with more than 70 percent alcohol content.

Rapid crew testing before flights
Cebu Pacific’s pilots and cabin crew members will undergo rapid antibody testing before flights to ensure they are well and uninfected by Covid19.

Cleaning and sanitation will be strictly enforced.
Apart from inflight procedures, airlines will be going all out to make sure all planes are going to be thoroughly disinfected. Most modern jets are equipped with High Efficiency Particulate Arrestor (HEPA) filters to block bacteria and virus—which includes coronavirus—with 99.9 percent efficiency. Thanks to this technology, air inside cabin is changed every three minutes.

The Bureau of Quarantine and the World Health Organization have also issued guidelines for airlines to follow in disinfecting planes. All lavatories will be sanitized every 30 minutes, all surfaces inside, from walls, sinks, mirror, knobs, and other surfaces, will be sanitized well between flights. Disinfectant mists approved for Airbus jets will be used.

PAL says it has highly trained personnel who are utilized to use high-grade eco-friendly disinfectants. All shuttle buses are going thoroughly disinfected between uses, and most areas will have alcohol-based sanitizers. Sanitizing floor mats will also be laid out for passengers upon deplaning.

Meals will be simplified
At PAL’s lounges, meals will come in sealed packages, and beverages will only be served upon demand. Inflight meals will be simplified, too.

Get your health history ready
PAL will distribute health forms to passengers for documenting travel and health history, so make sure you are well aware—and honest—about your past and current illnesses.


Source: Manila Bulletin (