Gone are those iconic burgundy suits – for a few cautious months at least. As Qatar Airways gears up to resume half of normal services by the end of June, it will require all cabin crew to wear hazmat-style suits over their uniforms, along with safety goggles, gloves and face masks.
The Doha-based carrier has announced a new set of measures that aim to reduce physical contact between flight attendants and passengers, and improve in-flight sanitisation. Staff are already required to wear gloves and face masks on board, but from May 25, they also must wear full-body Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) suits and safety goggles. Passengers will also have to wear face coverings and it is recommended they bring their own.
Photograph: Qatar Airways
Other protective measures include large bottles of hand sanitiser being installed in the galleys, while all crew and passengers will be asked to adhere to social-distancing measures. Economy-class meals and cutlery will be served as usual, but business-class passengers will now be served food on trays and with a cutlery wrap. Staff will also be distributed differently through the aircraft to maintain distancing rules.
Despite some strong ideas – barriers between passengers, every other seat turned the opposite way – cash-strapped airlines may well not be able to afford to redesign planes markedly any time soon. Yet as they try to get us all flying again, masks, gloves, goggles and quite possibly PPE could all prove an increasingly familiar sight in the skies over the coming months. Until, one day, the burgundy suits return.