How do air travel safety measures differ by country?

How do air travel safety measures differ by country?

How do air travel safety measures differ by country?
AirAsia aircraft are seen parked on the tarmac at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 in Sepang on April 29, 2020. (AFP photo)

Governments, airlines and airports around the world are putting in place new measures to help protect travellers and allow for a return to the air during the global coronavirus pandemic.


The aviation regulator requires airlines to leave at least one seat empty between passengers, who are required to wear surgical masks onboard. No food and beverages will be served during flights and passengers are not allowed to eat or drink. In an event of emergency, the cabin crew may provide water.


The government is requiring airlines carry a maximum of half the usual number of passengers on board, with some exceptions on flights between peninsular Malaysia and states in Borneo. At the airport, passengers must remain 1 metre apart from each other for social distancing, including markers in queues. Malaysia Airlines requires passengers to wear masks on board.


Airlines can only carry half the usual number of passengers as part of government requirements to leave 1 metre between them. Air crew are required to take the temperature of passengers 30 minutes before landing. Passengers must wear masks and fill in a health awareness card.


The government requires passengers to wear masks upon entering the airport, mandatory temperature checks and for social distancing measures to be observed at queuing points. Security screenings should be done with minimal contact. Passengers need to fill out an electronic health declaration form. 

United States

There are no government-imposed measures in the United States, though all major US airlines require face coverings and several are capping the number of seats sold or leaving middle seats empty. Many airports are also requiring face coverings. Major US airlines have also endorsed temperature checks at airports by the US Transportation Security Administration, which so far has implemented safety measures such as increased spacing in security checkpoint queues.

European Union and United Kingdom 

The European Commission last week proposed airlines and airports require passengers to wear masks, and reorganise check-ins, dropoffs and luggage pickups to avoid crowds. Travellers should keep luggage and movement in the cabin to a minimum. The guidelines are not binding, but they may help form a framework in the bloc as restrictions are lifted. The United Kingdom is observing EU trade and travel regulations until the end of 2020.


The aviation regulator is requiring extra ventilation and sterilisation of airplanes and airports. Passengers are required to fill out an electronic health declaration before boarding and are asked to sit apart from each other onboard if possible. Temperature checks are required for every passenger and workers like cabin crew and security officers are offered protective gear. Passengers need to wear a mask throughout the flight.


The government has directed airlines to make in-flight announcements about health measures and to distribute health information cards and questionnaires. It has also asked airport staff to wear masks, but they are not mandatory for passengers. There is no requirement to keep the middle seat empty.

South Korea

The aviation regulator is requiring travellers' temperatures be checked in the airport. Airport authorities ask travellers to stand at least 1 metre apart in line, and are furnished with hand sanitiser. Korean Air Lines Co Ltd is seating passengers as far apart as possible, conducting additional temperature checks on international travellers and requiring all domestic passengers to wear masks, with a few exceptions such as children under 2 years.


At the airport, staff and passengers are required to pass temperature checks and disinfection procedures, with high contact areas disinfected every 10 to 15 minutes. Qatar Airways is encouraging social distancing on board when possible, especially on flights with lighter loads, and will require passengers to wear masks.

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