United Airlines (UAL) - Get United Airlines Holdings, Inc. Report will enable passengers worried about packed jets to book alternative flights as it rolls out a new coronavirus safety initiative, UnitedCleanPlus.
Passengers will be able to rebook on alternative flights if their flights hit 70% capacity, with the airline also now limiting advance seat selections, United said Tuesday. On Wednesday it rolled out a new safety campaign designed to ease customer concerns about flying during the pandemic.
The move comes a bit more than a week after United was hit with a social media backlash after a cardiologist returning from helping coronavirus patients in New York posted a photo of a packed cross-country United flight from Newark to California.
Teaming up with the Cleveland Clinic and Clorox (CLX) - Get Clorox Company Report, United said it would erect plastic sneeze guards at check-in desks, shut down self-service touchscreen kiosks, and distribute "all in one" snack bags that include a sanitizer wipe.
United said it would also start introducing touchless kiosks in some locations that will enable customers to print luggage tags using their own electronic devices.
United also said it would start giving employees cleaning products so the can routinely wipe down high-touch areas. Starting in June, staff will deploy "electrostatic spraying" of jet cabins before every flight.
Passengers will also be asked to self-scan their boarding passes at gate readers, while passengers, crew, and other employees will all be required to wear masks or other face coverings.
At last check shares of United rose 3.9% to $24.60.
At a virtual investor conference Tuesday, United and other airlines reported some encouraging signs, including fewer cancellations and rising bookings.