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Hawaiian Airlines adopts virus-stopping policies

  • Video by Dennis Oda and Nina Wu

    Hawaiian Airlines on Monday offered a glimpse of new procedures already in place for checking in and boarding its flights at the airport.

  • DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Hawaiian Airlines staff demonstrated Monday how future passengers will be seated in its planes.

    DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Hawaiian Airlines staff demonstrated Monday how future passengers will be seated in its planes.

Hawaiian Airlines on Monday offered a glimpse of new procedures already in place for checking in and boarding its flights at the airport.

Hawaiian Airlines offered a sample run-through of the entire process for media at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu at about noon, just two hours before Gov. David Ige announced the interisland travel quarantine for Hawaii residents would be lifted June 16.

In addition to signs informing passengers that masks are required, Hawaiian Airlines has placed stickers on the floor that tell passengers where to stand while waiting in line at the lobby and gate, and put up sneeze guards.

Photo Gallery: Hawaiian Airlines provides glimpse of new travel procedures

The airline has also deactivated about a third of its self-check-in kiosks — grouped in pods — so that passengers can maintain social distancing of 6 feet while using them.

Passengers are now encouraged to use the Hawaiian Airlines app to obtain their boarding passes, but those who do not will still receive paper ones and will self-scan them before boarding.

Additionally, passengers will no longer be seated by frequent-flyer status, but by order on the plane, from rear to front, in the interest of minimizing interactions as much as possible. Passengers will also be asked to remain seated at the gate until their row is called to board.

Peter Ingram, president and CEO of Hawaiian Airlines, called it the “traveling with confidence” initiative.

“Since the COVID-19 pandemic has been upon us, we’ve taken a look at a lot of our procedures, a lot of processes we normally do,” said Ingram. “We’re using this as an opportunity to further enhance our practices to make sure as we start seeing people travel in greater numbers that they can travel in confidence.”

Ingram said many safety initiatives, including HEPA filtration systems on the planes, and sanitization procedures were already in place before the pandemic.

However, Hawaiian Airlines has taken a closer look at all of them, including the cleaners it uses, to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

It has, for instance, implemented electrostatic cleaning — a method of cleaning that sprays a fine mist over all surfaces to disinfect them. Electrostatic cleaning is applied nightly to neighbor island aircraft, and prior to each departure from Hawaii on trans-Pacific aircraft.

Fewer seats will be available on airplanes so that physical distancing is possible, which means some middle seats will remain empty. Ingram said maintaining 6 feet of distance between unrelated passengers is difficult on a plane but that more distance would be available.

Ingram said the interisland fights on the airline’s fleet of Boeing B717s, which can seat up to 128 passengers, will operate at about 70% load capacity, with about 90 passengers on board.

The Boeing 717s, according to Ingram, use a system that does not recirculate air in the cabins, but continuously replaces it with fresh, outside air that is controlled for temperature.

Neighbor island aircraft are cleaned after every flight into Honolulu, according to Hawaiian Airlines, and disinfected daily, with special attention to high-touch areas including seats, headrests, monitors, tray tables, overhead bins, walls, windows and shades.

For trans-Pacific flights, larger aircraft come with HEPA filter systems, which recirculate about half of the cabin air to remove contaminants, similar to hospital settings, while the other half comes from outside, Hawaiian Airlines said.

Bringing the airline’s aircraft and employees back to work should be a relatively quick process, according to Ingram, who also said he remained confident travelers would return in time.

“I think air travel has been safe, even globally,” he said. “We’ve seen very few incidents of the disease spreading on airplanes.”

While there are fewer seats available at this time, Ingram said the airline would revise its schedule and add flights to meet growing demand, if necessary. There are currently 20 round-trip flights to neighbor isles per day.

Prices should also be attractive for those looking to travel again.

HAWAIIAN AIRLINES’ NEW PROCEDURES

>> Passengers are required to wear a face mask that effectively covers the mouth and nose while boarding, through the duration of the fight, and while disembarking.*

>> Hawaiian Airlines employees will also wear masks when interacting with passengers.

>> Social distancing of 6 feet should be maintained while waiting in lines, via markers.

>> Passengers will be seated by row, and not necessarily by frequent-flyer status, from rear to front, in order to minimize interactions that people have.

>> Passengers will be encouraged to use the Hawaiian Airlines app to get their boarding passes.

>> Passengers will scan their own boarding pass rather than handing it to staff before heading down the jetway.

>> Flights’ capacity will be limited so passengers can have more distance between one another on the plane.

>> Common areas, including counters and kiosks, will be disinfected multiple times each day.

>> Hawaiian Airlines’ Plumeria Lounge and Premier Club locations are temporarily closed at all airports.

>> TSA is allowing passengers to bring liquid hand sanitizer up to 12 ounces in carry-on bags for the time being, until further notice.

FOR ALL FLIGHTS

>> Guests are provided with a complimentary sanitizing wipe while supplies last.

>> The number of complimentary beverages has been reduced. Sales of alcoholic beverages have been temporarily suspended.

>> Shared newspapers are no longer available, but passengers may bring their own. The inflight Hana Hou! Magazine will be available at gates prior to boarding (not in seat pockets).

More information is available at hawaiianairlines.com/coronavirus/kys.

*In place since May 8. Young children unable to keep a face covering on, and passengers with a medical condition, will be exempt from the face mask policy.

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