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Covering funeral costs: Radical measures airlines are taking in response to COVID-19

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Covering funeral costs: Radical measures airlines are taking in response to COVID-19

Meghan HunterCovering funeral costs: Radical measures airlines are taking in response to COVID-19Million Mile Secrets Team

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There’s no question that the coronavirus has hugely impacted the travel industry. And that airlines, along with many other types of businesses, have seen a dramatic drop in revenue. Airlines are doing what they can to instill confidence in consumers in the hopes of luring people back into the sky. But, as with most of life’s challenges, things are often easier said than done.

While individual carriers are taking the types of precautions one might expect, like blocking off middle seats and improving cleaning measures, Emirates just recently became the first airline to offer free COVID-19 insurance.

Emirates has announced it will cover certain medical expenses for flyers who contract COVID while traveling. (Photo by Vadym Stock/Shutterstock)

The coverage is free to all customers, regardless of class of travel, and there’s no registration required. If a passenger catches the coronavirus while traveling, the following expenses will be covered:

  • Hotel quarantine costs for up to two weeks at 100 euros (~$118) per day
  • Medical expenses up to 150,000 euros (~$176,000)
  • 1,500 euros (~$1,770) towards the cost of funeral expenses

I’m not sure if offering to help with funeral services actually instills confidence — it sounds a bit morbid to me. But it’s certainly one way to approach the difficulties airlines are facing in getting people to fly again.

JetBlue, in comparison, is testing out the Honeywell UV Cabin System. Originally dubbed the GermFalcon (a name I find a lot more exciting), this machine is the size of a beverage cart and can clean the length of an airplane in 10 minutes or less. The robotic system uses folding arms and ultraviolet light to disinfect cabin surfaces, including seats, lavatories and galleys.

Delta, on the other hand, has committed to delaying flights if the cabin isn’t deemed clean enough before boarding — a move we’d never see from any carrier in the past. They’re also disinfecting cabins before every single flight and are focusing their attention on high-use surfaces like armrests and overhead bin handles. They’ve even banned over 100 passengers for not wearing a mask.

How do you feel about flying right now? Our own team member Alfred recently flew from Charlotte, North Carolina, to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and was surprised to see such a lack of physical distancing at the airport and on the plane.

Do any of the measures these airlines have implemented make you feel safer or more confident to travel? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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JetBlue’s new GermFalcon protocol should not give anyone much additional confidence flying them over another airline.

This is because information from the manufacturer of the cleaning system, Dimer LLC (which partners with Honeywell) reveals “limited testing has been done specifically as to effectivity against COVID-19”.

While killing/reducing other germs and bacteria on a plane is a noble concept, the public’s main reluctance to currently flying is a fear of the COVID-19 virus.

Unless and until credible agencies such as the CDC, FDA, NIH, etc. make definitive statements as to the efficacy of the GermFalcon in actually killing the COVID-19 virus on the interior surfaces of an airplane, I think it best for JetBlue (and any other enterprise utilizing this new technology) to refrain from issuing PR announcements that are, at best, unproven at this time.

Within the last 2 weeks I’ve taken a couple of thousand-mile flights on Southwest. With middle-seats “blocked” it felt relatively safe. Social distancing was evident at all times except during exiting the plane after the flights.

I appreciate Delta, JetBlue and Southwest for blocking middle seats, and wish American and United would adopt that policy.