United Airlines branded its cleanliness efforts with Clorox. Hilton puts Lysol stickers on hotel room doors after the rooms have been cleaned. Now Delta Air Lines has struck a deal with Lysol as well.
Lysol will provide Delta with disinfectant spray and wipes and “develop new protocols for areas such as lavatories.” They’ll also work on “disinfection procedures at departure gates and in Sky Clubs, and Delta will deploy “care carts” with EPA-approved Lysol disinfection products.”
Strikingly Lysol’s parent company will work with Delta “to gather information on what customers’ concerns are about germs while traveling.” You read that right,
- This isn’t working with scientists to figure out the best way to clean and disinfect
- This is consumer research to figure out how to convince people things are clean enough that they feel comfortable traveling.
One United manager described airline cleanliness efforts as “literally a con job” in that they’re about confidence of travelers, rather than actual safety.
United executives have shared that after they took the idea of electrostatic spraying of cleaning products from Delta, they’ve had problems witht he rollout and though they say they are “[u]sing electrostatic spraying on all aircraft before departure for enhanced cabin sanitation” in fact the machines are currently only available at hubs and major outstations.
With the CDC advising that surface transmission doesn’t appear to be a primary mechanism for spread of Covid-19, your greatest risk may be crowded gate areas and jet bridges as well as security checkpoints. The things that go the farthest in making air travel safe seem to be refresh rate of cabin air and HEPA air filtration (not available on many planes with 50 or fewer seats).
My own view is that this marketing matters, and that I hope the investment in cleaning continues even after the Covid crisis. However what you should do to travel is invest in high quality masks, bring the full 12 ounces of hand sanitizer you’re permitted (despite CDC guidance on limited surface transmission risks) and avoid crowded areas. And if you’re flying American or Spirit consider buying the middle seat next to you.
The best news from Delta today, though, is an increased focus on lavatory cleanliness.