As the aviation industry grapples with the long-lasting effects of the Coronavirus Pandemic and aims to restore passenger trust in flying, Russian flag-carrier has gone a step further this week by introducing a new “anti-mask” seating area at the back of their Economy Class cabins – Aimed at passengers who refuse to wear a mask during their flight.
A Look at the New Seating Area
Whilst the official stance of the carrier is to deny boarding to any customer claiming exemption from face-coverings inflight – “Passengers who can’t wear masks for medical or other reasons will not be admitted to flight.” (Aeroflot Ticketing Terms & Conditions) – the new seating area will be designated for any mask-disputes once the aircraft has departed the gate. Speaking to the media, Aeroflot Spokesperson Yulia Spivakova said:
“Dedicated seats are allocated to passengers who declare their refusal to use masks after (the aircraft’s) doors close.”
Aeroflot remains firm that an option of sitting in the non-mask area will not be available at booking, and the act of being moved to the section is not without potential further repercussion. The zone however is aimed at reducing the disruption, and expense, of diverting the aircraft to an emergency landing in-order to remove passengers not wearing masks onboard.
The area reserved is the last two rows of the Economy Class seating area, onboard all of Aeroflot’s fleet. Whilst there will be no physical partition, and it is likely there will be mask-compliant passengers seated nearby or (at a minimum) walking past the section, the arrangement is aimed to at least reduce the risk of transmission through placing non-mask wearers next to those following the rules.
So, what are the current rules?
The current Aeroflot Face-Mask policy includes four key steps to keep passengers and crew onboard safe. These include:
- Passengers who refuse to wear face masks for any reason will be denied boarding; there are no exceptions, including for medical or other reasons;
- Passengers must use a protective mask that fully covers their nose and mouth, at boarding and throughout the flight;
- A face mask can only be removed to be changed and during meals;
- Face masks must be changed every three hours.
In a press-release issued on Monday, the carrier also announced enhanced enforcement of it’s mask-policy, and that gate agents would be tightening control over compliance prior to boarding.
What are your thoughts on this move by Aeroflot? Does it give in to Anti-Maskers, or is it merely a practical step to reduce disruptions? Let us know your thoughts below!