Eddie Mair 4pm - 7pm
Wear face masks and no hand luggage: New government advice for airline passengers
11 June 2020, 14:04
Airline passengers have been "strongly encouraged" to check in all baggage instead of keeping items in the cabin, according to new government travel advice for limiting the spread of coronavirus.
In the advice published by the Department of Transport, people have also been told to wear face coverings in airports, and to remain seated for as much as possible while in-flight.
Airlines themselves have also been urged to create incentives to encourage passengers to avoid taking hand luggage on board - which the government says will speed up disembarking times and reduce the risk of virus transmission.
A checked-in 15kg bag for an easyJet flight currently costs around £23.99 for a trip from Gatwick to Glasgow, while British Airways currently charges £25 for a £23kg bag under its cheapest fare from Heathrow to the same location.
The guidance also includes advice to clean aircraft extensively, and to make hand washing facilities and hand sanitiser more accessible.
Face-to-face interactions between staff and passengers are advised to be limited.
The document was released as the country continued to gradually roll back restrictions on the lockdown, and airlines prepared to reintroduce their scheduling.
EasyJet will restart flights from Monday, while British Airways and Ryanair - which operated some flights during the COVID-19 outbreak - will scale up from July.
In a statement, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the guidance was a "positive step" to ensuring aviation would remain a safe mode of transport as Britain emerges from the pandemic.
He added: "The government's advice currently remains to avoid all non-essential travel, but today we are taking the necessary steps to ensure a framework is in place for the aviation industry to bounce back when it is safe for restrictions on travel to be lifted.
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, which represents UK-registered carriers, was welcoming of the guidance, and pointed toward the possibility of air bridges soon being established.
He said: "The guidelines pave the way for the introduction of air bridges, and there is no reason we shouldn't be getting clarity from government on when and how these will be established over the coming days."