If you thought masks on a plane, some disinfectant wipes and a scaled back menu were as bad as flying will get post-pandemic; think again.
Qatar Airlines have upped their safety measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, by enforcing a mandatory rule on all economy passengers to wear not only a face mask – but a plastic shield as well.
Looking a little like a welders mask, these shields will be provided to passengers when they reach their boarding gate with the airline.
According to the Middle Eastern airline, in addition to a face shield provided before boarding, passengers will also be handed a protection kit containing hand sanitiser, a surgical face mask and disposable gloves.
“Anyone refusing to wear the face shield during the boarding process will be not allowed to travel,” a Qatar Airways spokesperson told CNN Travel.
But for passengers travelling at the pointy end of the plane, it’s understood wearing of the shield will be “at their own discretion” given their seats have more room between fellow flyers.
According to the airline, Economy Class passengers are required to wear their face shield visor in addition to their face mask or covering throughout the entire flight, except when they are served their meals or drinks.
Business Class customers, however, are asked to wear their face shield and mask on-board at their own discretion, as they enjoy more space and privacy.
“By introducing these additional on-board safety and hygiene measures, our customers can rely on us and our unparalleled expertise to fly them safely to their destination,” Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker, said in a statement.
“As the largest international airline flying consistently throughout the pandemic, we have become one of the most experienced in safety and hygiene. We will continue to lead the industry in terms of the services offered to our passengers, so that they can travel with confidence.”
But social media users have been quick to judge the shields, saying they wouldn’t be happy about wearing them.
“Don’t like this,” one person wrote.
“I’m very pro-mask … but wearing a face shield on a 15 hour flight does not sound fun.”
“I don’t see this lasting for long,” another added.
During boarding and disembarkation, all passengers will be required to wear their face mask or covering as well as the face shield.