United Airlines flight attendants don’t have to social distance from each other in the galley. On long haul flights they’re in close contact with customers as they serve beverages and even meals. But the airline is telling them that as a Covid precaution they need to stop sharing beds up in the crew rest area of widebody aircraft. Apparently bed sharing is a problem on long flights at United.
The airline isn’t worried that more than one flight attendant is cramming into the small space at one time. Instead the concern is sequential use of the space. Normally crew take shifts in the beds, that on many aircraft are above the passenger cabin. The concern is that one flight attendant, infected with and shedding the virus, might cause fomite transmission to another flight attendant.
Under rules drawn up by United Airlines and the Cleveland Clinic, each bunk can only be used once per flight. Despite the fact that most crew rest compartments have curtains of other partitions between bunks, flight attendants will have to occupy alternating beds to maintain physical distancing.
Effective this past Thursday this means that some cabin crew will be restricted to using crew rest seats rather than beds when they’re not on shift. Already, before this rule went into effect, the airline reported that flight attendants had a lower infection rate than the general population.