American Airlines Will Do More Cleaning Between Flights, Provide Masks and Sanitizer to Passengers

A month ago Delta promised a new standard of clean which would begin right away and grow to include all of their domestic flights by May.

Now American Airlines has announced enhanced cleaning procedures for domestic flights that “will begin this week and will expand to every mainline and regional flight over time.” (Emphasis mine.) Disinfecting will include:

  • “tray tables, seatbelt buckles, armrests, window shades and seatback screens. It also includes wiping door and overhead bin handles.”

  • along with “enhanced galley cleaning, jumpseats and crew rest seats [and]…add cockpit surfaces as well.”

Starting May 1 flight attendants will be required to wear masks. This follows United Airlines requiring the same thing. It’s a huge departure for the airline which five weeks ago was still disciplining flight attendants for wearing masks. Every mainline flight will have a galley drawer with masks for crew and sanitizing items.

Also early in May American will “start the process” to provide sanitizing wipes (or gels) to passengers, along with face masks. This is subject to availability “and operational conditions.” There’s no question sourcing has been a challenge. Early in the crisis Delta had a quarter million masks stolen off of a truck. And even non-medical grade masks have been back-ordered.

While enhanced cleaning extends not just to mainline but the regional fleet as well, American Airlines President Robert Isom told employees in March that their small regional jets “don’t have high particulate air filtration.”

These are important changes, and I applaud American for making them. They’re behind by a month, behind Delta by a month, but unfortunately ahead of several of their competitors.

Now American needs to reverse its decision to end its home-based reservations program and require that all reservations agents work from a call center, in light of a CDC study of South Korea on how the virus spreads in call centers.

I asked American about their decision not to continue to employee home-based reservations agents, and they did not respond.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. AA has really stepped up and I don’t see them a month behind DL. They were already doing many of these extra steps on the flights I was on and the crews were wearing masks (I still think that was staged by the FA union). All my flights have been clean, even smelling clean and I haven’t worried since I am following the CDC guidelines (washing hands, not touching my face, wearing mask to protect others). It’s a new world folks, I hope UA and SW wake up soon. . .but AA is flying more then UA and DL combined right now and looking at their bookings, the are increasing 2 fold every few weeks (almost 50 people on my PHL flight verses 22 just a few weeks ago and no they didn’t cancel anything).

    Let’ keep positive and hope they all do the right thing, but truth be told, DL released the press release and then started to clean, AA cleaned and then announced the changes.

  2. When flying with American Airlines, I hope a Biscotti is wrapped in my complimentary face mask.

  3. Was a little concerned, thought they were going to make wearing a mask mandatory for passengers. Have never worn a mask and will never wear a mask. The science doesn’t show it will do any good for both the wearer or those around them. It’s basically pointless.

  4. Masks are cheap, easy to make and we already have a huge mask industry operating in Asia (remember there are 1.4 billion Chinese, and their mask usage is going down). AA will find enough masks. Just look at the price/availability trends on Amazon: you can tell the USA is just a few weeks away from a mask surplus. I am certain that everyone will wear masks on airplanes for the next 2 months, whether they actually do any good or not on an airplane (there seems to be no science on this issue whatsoever) .

  5. Earlier this year on a UA Munich-SFO flight, mid flight I noticed an empty wine bottle sitting on the floor by the boarding door across from galley next to lavatory. I pointed it out to a FA. She told me it’s their plunger. “You know, for the lavatory.” With my look of puzzlement, she said, “For the trash bin in the lavatory.”

    Wasn’t Boeing developing a new lavatory with incorporating touch less water/soap and paper towel dispenser, and, UV light to disinfect surfaces?

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