As of today (Monday 11 May) wearing facial protection during boarding and on board is mandatory for KLM passengers (also at group partner Air France). Passengers must ensure that they carry the required facial protection with them. Cabin crew will of course also wear facial protection.
Facial protection refers to non-medical face masks and to surgical face masks. The mask has to be large enough to cover the wearer’s entire nose and mouth.
For the time being, this measure applies until 31 August 2020. Passengers who do not wear adequate facial protection/mouth masks may be refused boarding at the gate. Children under 10 years of age are excluded from the measure.
For airlines, flying during the corona crisis means operating under exceptional circumstances. The current situation calls for a series of measures KLM is taking in order to safely and healthily carry out its operation for passengers and crew. The obligation to wear facial protection is part of this. Other measures include aircraft being cleaned more frequently and thoroughly and keeping contact moments between crew and passengers during the flight to a minimum. In addition, passengers from high-risk areas will have to fill in a health declaration to assess whether they are fit to fly.
The risk of contamination on board aircraft is low. Modern aircraft are equipped with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, which provide clean, high-quality cabin air with a high degree of air circulation. The air is replaced every three minutes by the aircraft’s built-in air supply system. The air flow in the aircraft goes from top to bottom, which further reduces the chance of ‘horizontal’ transmission in the cabin. Moreover, the air flows quickly, which is not conducive to the dispersion of droplets. Furthermore, the passengers all sit with their faces in the same direction, so there is little face-to-face interaction, and the seats form a barrier to the transmission forward or backward in the cabin.