JetBlue Trying A New Disinfecting Procedure One Industry Insider Says Will Never Work

JetBlue is deploying a UV cleaning technology for its aircraft that I first saw noted by Ben Mutzabaugh at the Points Guy. Formerly known as “GermFalcon” the machine, the size of a beverage cart, is supposed to be able to disinfect an aircraft within 10 minutes.

JetBlue will deploy eight of the beverage cart-sized machines that can cover the length of an airplane in 10 minutes or less. They feature folding arms equipped with a germ-fighting, ultraviolet-light cleaning system that can help disinfect cabin surfaces – including seats, lavatories and galleys.

Now called “Honeywell UV Cabin System,” the machines will be used for a 90 day trial at both New York JFK and Fort Lauderdale.

An executive at another airline who managed a UV cleaning procurement process tells me they evaluated GermFalcon and found it “too fragile,” that it didn’t live up to its claims, and that the actual device is too unwieldly, JetBlue “will never get to use it on turns” the way they’re promoting. The system is desirable if it’s quick enough to disinfect between every flight, but this industry insider with specific knowledge of the product tells me that’s unrealistic.

Of course JetBlue wouldn’t be the only airline where cleaning promises reportedly fail to live up to reality.

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. Can you say more? What do former VX folks say about it? They were interested and presumably tested it before the AS merger/purchase. What about other experts or execs? Citing one unnamed airline exec makes it seem like they could just be trying to tarnish B6’s news day….Thx

  2. @BNR – I can tell you this manager who works directly on these projects has no interest in criticizing JetBlue but I’d prefer not to elaborate on why that’s the case. (I’d rather you discount what I’m writing. He’s already tested the tech and the supplier appears not to have been able to make it work for airline needs.)

  3. I can confirm this sentiment. Not sure if it’s the same exec / airline, but I have heard my own commentary from other leaders at my company that it’s very clunky and unwieldy to use. It might be useful going up and down aisles, but it’ll be difficult to get in lavs, etc. Will also take a lot of effort to get it onboard and transport it. It’s just too big to be useful and make quick turns…

  4. UV concept works and it has been used in biomedical science labs for decades in disinfecting lab hoods. But it takes more than a few seconds as shown to disinfect spaces.

  5. When the primary mechanism of viral spread is airborne person-to-person and surface-based transmission is negligible, what’s the point? Or, rather, surely the press release and a small rental fee for a “trial” *is* the point. All of this is “hygiene theater” — very appropriate for the air travel industry!

    Enforcing mask wearing by all travelers is the only thing that will make a difference. Barring that, perhaps evacuate the air and thus require passengers to use the masks that drop from the ceiling for the duration of the flight.

  6. Gary, the effectiveness will come down to a ratio of the intensity of the lights and the time the surfaces are exposed to the UV lights. The stronger the lights, the less time it takes to disinfect. Also keep in mind that if the UV light does not shine on the surface (think closed tray tables) it will not disinfect.

  7. How about going back to the day when we actually cleaned planes, wiping down surfaces, emptying the seat backs, vacuuming the seats ands aisles??? It amazes me in the name of the “pandemic” people are going out of their minds with disinfecting everything when the science shows you have a better chance of getting struck by lightning than gettin g the virus off a surface,. Making everyone feel good and “safe”, such nonsense.

  8. Perhaps better than nothing – but light travel in straight lines and leaves areas dark. What about the underside of the seatbelts and backside (if up) or underside (if down) of tray tables?

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