Etihad Airways is to roll out specially trained Wellness Ambassadors on its flights, claimed to be a first for the aviation industry.
Part of its wider Etihad Wellness initiative, the ambassadors will be on flights in order to “provide greater level of customer care and reassurance” around health and hygiene.
The latest move is in response to fears around Covid-19 with the airline introducing new standards of cleanliness at its catering facilities and food testing laboratory; aircraft cabin deep-cleaning; check-in; health screening; boarding; inflight experience and product; crew interaction; arrival; and ground transportation.
The Wellness Ambassadors undergo specific training at the airline’s facilities in Abu Dhabi and online, and will also be introduced into Abu Dhabi International Airport in partnership with Abu Dhabi Airports in the coming weeks.
The airline said the idea is to make sure “the same levels of care and support are provided at every point of the customer journey through the airport, from check-in to security, immigration, retail areas, lounges and boarding”.
An online guide to the airline’s initiatives has also been created, and passengers can also email the Wellness Ambassadors 24/7 if they need more specific information; a live web-chat option will also be added soon.
“We must guarantee passengers can travel assured in the knowledge that we have every aspect of their journey with us covered, while still providing a top-quality travel experience,” said Tony Douglas, group chief executive officer, Etihad Aviation Group.
The airline is advocating passengers arrive three hours prior to departure. At the airport in Abu Dhabi, there are new hi-tech sterilisation booths, which scan body temperature and disinfect passengers within three seconds. Thermal scanning and facial recognition is also in place, while passengers are asked to wait 1.5m apart at all queuing points.
All check-in counters have new screens, and touchpoints are regularly sanitised, the airline said. Other new measures include an onboard Wellness Kit given to passengers that includes gloves, mask and hand sanitiser. The airline ‘recommends’ passengers wear gloves when they travel, but said wearing of face masks on its flights, at Abu Dhabi airport and in the emirate itself is mandatory.
Upon landing, passengers will now disembark “in small groups” and there will be less people per transfer coach. For customers with chauffeur service, protective screens have been put in place and drivers must wear face masks and disposable gloves.
Etihad added that passengers could be asked a series of questions during check-in, with staff able to contact MEDLINK if necessary, in order to determine whether people are fit to fly.
Airport teams and crew are being routinely tested at Etihad’s hub in Abu Dhabi and will be wearing personal protective equipment at all times; crew are also required to self-quarantine between flights.
The use of downloaded e-boarding passes and self-service boarding gates is being encouraged where possible at Abu Dhabi airport; passengers are also able to request they scan their own passes at the gate.
Etihad is currently allowing unlimited changes on all new bookings made before 31 July 2020 for travel before 30 November.