Here's how airlines in B.C. are dealing with coronavirus
Published Wednesday, March 4, 2020 2:27PM PST Last Updated Wednesday, March 4, 2020 4:34PM PST
Alaska Airlines released video Tuesday of enhanced cleaning procedures it has adopted in response to the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19. (Alaska Airlines)
VANCOUVER -- Airlines that frequent airports in British Columbia are sharing the enhanced cleaning procedures they have adopted in response to the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19.
In a video released Tuesday, Alaska Airlines - which operates regular flights to Vancouver, Victoria and Kelowna from U.S. cities - showed cleaning crews wiping down surfaces throughout a plane.
The airline said it worked with doctors from the University of Washington to determine areas within its planes that should be the focus of enhanced cleaning. All flights that are on the ground longer than an hour receive this extra cleaning - in addition to the "robust cleaning processes" the airline says it has always used.
The extra cleaning focuses on areas of the cabin that are touched most frequently, including arm rests, seat belts, tray tables, overhead controls and the exterior and interior handles to the lavatories.
Aircraft that remain on the ground overnight also receive additional cleaning, Alaska Airlines said. In addition to the areas previously mentioned, this overnight cleaning also includes the fronts and backs of seats, window shades and the handles to carry-on compartments.
The airlines that offer the most service in B.C. - Air Canada and WestJet - have also highlighted their cleaning regimens in recent days.
Air Canada did not describe its cleaning process as enhanced, but listed many of the same areas of focus that Alaska Airlines did.
"Between each aircraft turn (when an aircraft completes a journey and is readied to “turn” back), all frequently touched areas of the aircraft are sanitized including lavatories, galleys and tray tables," Air Canada said. "Aircraft overnighting in a station receive full sanitization which includes cleaning and sanitizing all hard surfaces, paying special attention to frequently touched surfaces such as armrests, entertainment screens, windows and window shades, light, air vent and call controls, seat controls, lavatories and seat belt buckles."
"Coronaviruses are easily eliminated by routine surface cleaning and sanitization," the airline said. "Air Canada uses cleaning products, including hospital-grade disinfectants which have a wide-spectrum microbial activity and are proven effective against human coronavirus."
WestJet also provided a description of both its normal cleaning routine and "additional precautionary measures" it has taken in response to COVID-19.
Under normal circumstances, WestJet planes are given a "light groom" after every flight, a "full groom" every 24 hours, a "complete interior detail" monthly and "an enhanced, hyper-focused groom" annually, the airline said.
"In response to COVID-19, WestJet has taken additional precautionary measures to expand and increase frequency of our aircraft sanitization at busiest bases," WestJet said. "WestJet also added two additional disinfecting products to our cleaning arsenal for return overnight grooms."