How Major European Airlines Are Responding To COVID-19

How major European airlines are handling Covid19

Different airlines are responding to the novel challenges of the coronavirus pandemic in many different ways. From providing increased travel flexibility and enhanced cleaning measures, to instating new travel requirements, airlines have greatly changed their policies to help ensure customers’ safety and peace of mind. For the second installment of this series, this article will address how popular European airlines are changing their policies. 


Aer Lingus

Ticket Flexibility: During this time, passengers have an increased ability to change and cancel flights without fees. Aer Lingus has waived all change fees on changes made before December 31, 2020, but travelers will still have to pay any difference in fares. If passengers would like to cancel their flight, they may apply for a voucher and will receive one for the full value of the flight for any flights scheduled to depart before August 31, 2020. Passengers whose flights have been canceled may receive a voucher for the full-flight value, change the date or destination of their journey online without usual change fees (but passengers will still have to pay any fare difference), or apply for a full refund. 

New Flying Requirements: All passengers except young children are required to wear face coverings which include cloth and disposable masks while onboard. However, Aer Lingus recommends that passengers also wear masks while inside airports.  

Travel Experience: Aer Lingus recommends that their passengers check-in online and use self-service facilities when available to minimize contact. Now, passengers should expect to board in small groups by seat row number, meaning priority boarding is no longer available. At the gate, passengers are encouraged to scan their own boarding pass and show their passport ID to officials to make the process contactless. All Aer Lingus retail and refreshment services on European flights have been suspended for the time being. Long-haul flights will still offer reduced food and drink services, and these services must be paid for with contactless payment. Allowed passenger movement has also been reduced. 

Sanitation:  Aer Lingus has outfitted their fleet with HEPA filters to help remove airborne particles like viruses and bacteria (99.97% effective). The interior of each plane is thoroughly disinfected daily using hospital-grade disinfectants to spray-treat the planes interior and hand cleaning all hard surfaces like tray tables, armrests, and windows. 

For more information, click here (regarding sanitation and new travel procedures) or here (for flight disruption information). 


Air France

Ticket Flexibility: If passengers want to postpone their trip, they can do so without any change fee. Passengers that purchased a ticket before April 21, 2020, may postpone their trip until November 30, 2020, if the travel was scheduled before August 31, 2020. Passengers that purchased tickets for travel after September 1, 2020, may postpone their departure date without a fee or current deadline. Similarly, passengers that purchased a ticket starting April 22, 2020, do not have to pay a change fee when postponing their trip. In these cases, passengers must only pay the fare difference. If passengers purchased their tickets before April 21, 2020, for a flight before August 31, 2020, and would like to cancel their trip, they may request a voucher or a refund. However, the cancellation request must be made prior to the original date of departure. Additionally, passengers that request a travel voucher may see the voucher’s value increase by 15% if used before October 31, 2020, for a trip departure that was scheduled before June 15, 2020. If a passenger’s flight was canceled, they may postpone the trip, request a refund, or request a travel voucher. Traveler’s that postpone their trip will not be subject to paying any change fees, and those that travel before November 30, 2020, will not pay a fare difference either. These changes must be made before October 31, 2020. 

New Flying Requirements: It is mandatory for passengers to wear surgical masks upon arrival at the airport and when onboard Air France aircraft, so Air France recommends that passengers bring several surgical masks with them. Air France is also slowly implementing measures to check passengers’ temperatures via non-contact infrared thermometers for international flights.  

Travel Experience: Air France has made changes to its inflight offers, lounges, and airport procedures in response to COVID-19. Recently, Air France has reinstated beverage services on flights less than two hours and 30 minutes and snacks on longer flights. Additional meal services will be offered on long-haul flights. Duty-free items, newspapers, and magazines will no longer be sold inflight, but passengers use the Air France app to purchase press offers before their flight. Air France lounges are reopening in select locations and have adapted similar mask and distancing measures. 

Sanitation: Air France has installed HEPA filters to help with air circulation and remove airborne particles. Paris airports may now only be accessed by authorized passengers, people accompanying children traveling alone, and those requiring special assistance. 

For more information, click here (for COVID-19 updates) or here (travel procedures/health and safety commitments). 



Ticket Flexibility: If passengers booked their travel between May 1, 2020, and July 31, 2020, and wish to change their booking, they may apply for one change in travel within a year of the scheduled flight date without a change fee, a voucher for the original fare amount to be used within the year, or a refund. This is also true for passengers that acquired a ticket before April 30, 2020, for flights scheduled between March 11 to September 30 are also entitled to the previous changes. Passengers who had their flight canceled between March 11 and October 31 may change their booking within seven days without paying a change fee or fare difference, change their booking within the year without a change fee, request a refund, or request a voucher.

New Flying Requirements: Alitalia passengers must wear masks while flying, and they may be subject to additional temperature screenings at the airport before and/or after flying. In accordance with manufacturer guidelines, passengers must replace their masks once every four hours. Travelers are also requested to follow all social distancing measures when going through the airport and on board if possible. Since June 15, passengers must also complete a self-certification form stating that they have not had contact with someone that has been diagnosed with COVID-19. 

Travel Experience:Alitalia recommends that travelers use online or mobile check-in or fast check-in kiosks at the airport. In the airport, Alitalia’s lounges are temporarily closed, and those entitled to lounge access at select locations may be given a voucher during check-in for food outlets at the airport. When boarding, passengers will enter the aircraft by row from the back of the aircraft to the front. Passengers may still bring one piece of hand baggage in addition to a personal item stored below the seat in front, but passengers may not store pieces of clothing in the overhead bins anymore. On-board services are also limited, and the food and beverage service has been modified to allow for better hygiene with sealed single portions.  

Sanitation:  Airport areas are currently being sanitized several times a day by both the airlines and airport authorities. Additionally, Alitalia has reoutfitted its entire fleet with HEPA filters and is committed to using high-powered sanitizing products every day. 

For more information, click here.


British Airways

European airline British Airways has been hard hit by Covid19, check out their new policies.

Ticket Flexibility: Passengers may change the dates and destinations of their booking without incurring a change fee (only paying the fare difference) if they booked their trips between 3 March and 31 August 2020 and were scheduled to fly before April 30, 2021. Passengers with this booking situation may also cancel their booking to receive a voucher for the same value as their ticket to be used for future bookings. If British Airways canceled a flight, passengers can similarly rebook their trip or claim a voucher online. 

New Flying Requirements: Passengers are required to wear facemasks when at the airport or in flight. British Airways recommends that travelers bring several masks as they last up to four hours. All passengers are expected to practice proper social distancing measures.  

Travel Experience: While British Airways recommends that passengers check-in online to help reduce contact, passengers may also use self-service kiosks. Passengers are also encouraged to self-scan their boarding pass, but employees will still check passports before boarding. When onboard, passengers will receive personal protection packs that offer antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer gel. British Airways encourages travelers to minimize their cabin movement during the flight. British Airways’ lounges are beginning to reopen in select locations with new protective measures. For more information on British Airways’ lounges, click here. Lastly, British Airways has changed its inflight food options to reduce passenger contact with crew members. 

Sanitation: All British Airways jets are equipped with HEPA filters to help clean and circulate the cabin air. High-touch surfaces are cleaned before and after every flight, and each plane is completely cleaned every day. Hand sanitizing stations are also available throughout the airport and while onboard. 

For more information, click here.



Ticket Flexibility: EasyJet’s flight cancellation, change, and reimbursement policies are heavily dependent on where the flight was booked when the flight was scheduled, and if it was canceled. To determine whether a flight applies, click here.  

New Flying Requirements:Passengers on easyJet flights are required to wear a face mask while onboard except for children under six and those with a medical reason supported in a doctor’s note. If passengers not exempt refuse to wear a mask at the gate, they will not be allowed to board the aircraft. Social distancing protocols must be followed while traveling as much as possible. 

Travel Experience: Only travelers flying will be permitted to enter the airport terminals unless under special circumstances. Once onboard, passengers will have to stow their own carry-on baggage, so easyJet recommends that travelers pack light. EasyJet will offer a limited bistro service in-flight, but all purchases must be made with card payments. 

Sanitation: EasyJet planes are equipped with HEPA air filters to help replace cabin air every three to four minutes and remove harmful particles, and each plane is thoroughly disinfected each day. Hand sanitizing stations will also be located throughout the airport.  

For more information, click here. 



Lufthansa is one of the many European airlines to do change its policies during Covid19

Ticket Flexibility: Lufthansa is allowing all tickets booked from May 15, 2020, to August 31, 2020, and scheduled before April 30, 2021, to be rebooked without an additional rebooking fee for flights until December 31, 2021. If Lufthansa has canceled a trip, passengers may also request a refund, and passengers that booked before May 15, 2020, can request a travel voucher discounted by 50 Euros if converted before August 31, 2020.    

New Flying Requirements: All passengers flying Lufthansa must wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth while onboard. Travelers will be responsible for their own masks and may not substitute a face shield for a face mask. 

Travel Experience: Lufthansa recommends that all travelers check-in online or using the mobile app to help avoid contact with in-person check-in. Hand sanitizer will be available throughout the airport for traveler and staff use. Currently, Lufthansa has limited their lounge services, so click here for more information. Travelers will only be allowed to bring one piece of hand luggage on board, so Lufthansa asks that all travelers plan accordingly. Once on board, all passengers will receive a disinfectant wipe to clean the seat.  During this time, Lufthansa has also simplified its onboard services including food and beverage, pillow, blanket, and periodical services. For more information, click here 

Sanitation:  Lufthansa has updated its hygiene measures to keep up with the pandemic. All of their aircraft now have HEPA filters, and cabins are thoroughly cleaned before and after each flight. 

For more information, click here.



Ticket Flexibility: Iberia has relaxed its change and refund policy. Travelers with tickets bought between May 28 to August 31, 2020, may change their flight up to 15 days before scheduled and only pay the fare difference. Changes are permitted until June 30, 2021. Passengers may also request a refund in the form of a travel voucher; those that scheduled their trips by May 28 and requested a refund before July 31, 2020, will receive a travel voucher worth the same amount as their original ticket that can be used towards any new flights before December 31, 2021.  

New Flying Requirements: All passengers flying on Iberia must complete a Health Declaration form during online check-in and at the airport stating that they have not exhibited symptoms of COVID-19, tested positive for COVID-19, or been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Those traveling to Spain from abroad will have to complete an additional Sanitary Control form 48 hours before flying. While boarding and flying, all travelers over the age of six must wear a mask except when eating or drinking and change it as recommended by the manufacturer. 

Travel Experience: Iberia recommends that all passengers check-in virtually and download their boarding passes on their phones to decrease contact with high-touch points. When going to the airport, consider that only travelers will have access to the airport beginning six hours before their scheduled flights. Iberia has installed screens at check-in desks, and all employees are wearing proper PPE for increased protection if customers decide to check-in at the airport rather than online. Currently, Iberia is allowing passengers to check their hand baggage free of charge. Iberia has also instituted a new queuing system for check-in and boarding lines to help comply with social distancing measures. For the interim, Iberia’s lounges are closed. Passengers will now board Iberian aircraft from back to the front of the plane and receive hand sanitizer packets in the process. Iberian crewmembers will not be able to help passengers with their carry-on baggage. Once onboard, passengers will see that Iberia has streamlined their onboard offerings; Iberia is solely using disposable cutlery, suspended all meal services, and temporarily canceled in-flight onboard magazines and newspapers. 

Sanitation: Iberia has introduced increased hygiene measures in the airport and their aircraft in response to the pandemic. All check-in desks and customer contact points are subject to reinforced cleaning procedures with special products. Additionally, all Iberia aircraft have HEPA filters and are now cleaned more frequently using COVID-specific products. All high-touch surfaces, crew, areas, and toilets have received additional special treatments. 

For more information, click here


Norwegian Air

Check out European based airline, Norwegian Air's policies regarding Covid19

Ticket Flexibility: If a passenger’s flight is canceled, Norwegian Air will try its best to send a notification email or SMS as quickly as possible. In the case of a canceled flight, passengers may change their booking free of charge, request a refund, or receive CashPoints and earn an additional 20% to be used for a later flight. 

 New Flying Requirements: As of June 17, all crew members and passengers, except for children under six and those with medical conditions preventing them from wearing masks, are required to wear face masks while onboard. Face masks must be worn the entire flight except for when eating and drinking, and they must cover one’s nose and mouth and be “made for the purpose” (scarves and other such material will not be accepted). Norwegian Air recommends that passengers bring an adequate number of masks with them as masks should be changed every four hours and might not be available for purchase at all airports.  

Travel Experience: While passengers may bring the amount of luggage purchased or included in their ticket, Norwegian Air recommends that passengers limit their hand baggage and use the storage under their seats to reduce touching common surfaces per EASA’s (European authorities) recommendations. Norwegian Air has altered its onboard and airport services in response to the pandemic. All flights currently operating will not offer a food or beverage service, so customers are encouraged to bring their own refreshments. If customers previously purchased these services, they may request a refund. The sale of tax-free items onboard will also be suspended for the time being. Lastly, Fast Track services are temporarily closed, so passengers must use the main security lines. 

Sanitation: Norwegian Air has installed HEPA filters on all their planes to increase air circulation and remove airborne microbes. They have also introduced enhanced cleaning procedures and precautionary kits to all aircraft designed to respond to any suspected coronaviruses cases onboard. 

For more information, click here



Ticket Flexibility: Ryanair has waived their flight change fee for any travel scheduled from March 13, 2020, to May 31, 2020. These flights can be changed for any date until August 31, 2020, but fare changes will still apply. If a passenger’s flight is canceled, they will be notified by email or SMS and be given the opportunity to receive a travel voucher valid for one year, obtain a refund, or may rebook their journey for a different time.

New Flying Requirements: Ryanair requests that passengers check their temperature before arriving at the airport. Passengers’ temperatures may be rechecked at the airport, and if the passengers do not pass this test, they will be sent home. Passengers must also wear face masks or coverings while at the airport and during the flight. 

Travel Experience: Ryanair asks that passengers download their boarding pass before arriving at the airport and using Fast Track to cut down on touching common surfaces, check-in time, and security time. Passengers will now be asked to NOT queue at boarding gates to preserve distancing and to scan their own passports and boarding passes. Lastly, Ryanair will now only offer limited onboard services including wrapped snacks and drinks. All sales must be cashless.  

Sanitation Measures: Ryanair has outfitted all their plans with HEPA filters which helps remove air particles and enhanced their overnight sanitation measures using a hospital-grade disinfectant. 

 For more information, please click here or here.



How SAS in Europe is handling Covid19

Ticket Flexibility: If SAS cancels a flight, a passenger may request a refund or a travel voucher. If a passenger decides to receive a travel voucher, they will be reimbursed the full value of the ticket within seven days of the request that can be used by you or another traveler to fly to any destination within 12 months of receiving the voucher. The voucher is also refundable after 12 months. While passengers may request a refund instead of a voucher, the current time for handling and receiving requests is much longer than usual. Passengers who booked a trip before March 4, 2020 may rebook their flight scheduled before August 17, 2020 until seven days before departure without a change fee as long as the new flight is before August 16, 2021.  Passengers that booked flights between March 5, 2020- June 30, 2020 can rebook their flight once before November 30, 2020 for flights scheduled before August 16, 2021. Additionally, SAS is allowing any passenger traveling up until August 17, 2020 to cancel their trip and receive a voucher for the equivalent amount to be used within 12 months of the issue date. However, if you are traveling on a Norway domestic flight, the reimbursement and rebook dates are slightly earlier. 

New Flying Requirements: Passengers above the age of six must wear a face mask on all SAS flights beginning at the time of boarding. Those without masks will be denied boarding. Additionally, passengers are responsible for bringing their own masks and are encouraged to bring multiple masks to switch every four hours or possibly use at their destination.  

Travel Experience: SAS has made temporary changes to many of its amenities. First, SAS is now only permitting passengers to bring one piece of carry-on luggage. SAS has also temporarily suspended or closed  Fast Track, unaccompanied minor services, and their lounges. Within Europe, all food and beverage services have been suspended, but passengers will find a bottle of water in their seats when boarding flights over 2.5 hours. Flights traveling outside of Europe will offer two servings of food. SAS allows passengers to bring light-snacks and nonalcoholic beverages onboard but not large meals or take-away foods.

 Sanitation: SAS has installed HEPA filters onto all of its aircraft and is cleaning its aircraft in compliance with common recommendations.

For more information, click here


TAP Portugal

Ticket Flexibility: TAP Portugal is giving travelers that booked their tickets between July 1 and August 31 for travel before October 31, 2020, a free change with a discount of 15 EUR/USD or 50 EUR/USD to be used for the fare difference. Passengers may also request a refund through a voucher, receiving an additional 20% if their first flight is scheduled to travel before August 31, 2020. 

New Flying Requirements: Masks are now mandatory on all TAP Portugal flights, so all passengers above the age of six are required to wear one when flying. This policy also does not apply to travelers with proven health issues preventing them from wearing a mask, and these travelers must present a medical authorization (MEDIF) before their trip. Before check-in and baggage drop-off, passengers will also be subject to a temperature screening.

Travel Experience: TAP Portugal recommends that all travelers use online or mobile check-in before arriving at the airport. Only those flying will be able to enter the airport. Throughout the airport, hand sanitizers will be available for use. Protective partitions, space creation, and signage have been instituted to help encourage social distancing and personal protections. TAP Portugal crew will be unable to help passengers with their hand luggage and personal items. Once onboard, TAP Portugal asks that travelers remain in their seats as much as possible and avoid queuing for the lavatories to help social distancing measures. In-flight services have been streamlined to help comply with new hygiene measures; their food and beverage service is now limited or suspended, depending on the duration of the flight, and will use packaged and sealed products. Pillow and blanket services are still being cleaned between each flight and come delivered and sealed for each new use. While the usual publications will not be available in print, they are available on the TAP Portugal app for in-flight use.

Sanitation:  TAP Portugal aircraft, check-in counters, boarding gates, and other customer contact points are now subject to increased cleaning. Aircraft have been cleaned daily since March 20, and COVID-specific products are now used for frequent cleaning of high-touch surfaces. All TAP Portugal aircraft are outfitted with HEPA filters to help provide fresh air in their cabins. 

For more information, click here.


Turkish Airlines

Ticket Flexibility: All travelers that purchased a ticket between March 21, 2020, and August 31, 2020, are entitled to unlimited changes until December 31, 2021. These changes include changes in destination, but passengers must still pay the fare difference. If a passenger’s flight is canceled, they can also decide to obtain a refund for their ticket in the form of a travel voucher worth 15% more than the original fare. 

New Flying Requirements: Passengers are required to wear a mask, cloth or surgical, while in the airport and flying and asked to follow all social distancing guidelines posted throughout the airport. Before flying, travelers will also have their temperatures checked.

Travel Experience: Turkish Airlines recommends that all travelers check-in online and arrive at the airport three hours before their scheduled flight. Once at the airport, passengers will encounter self-check-in and baggage stations in addition to more traditional check-in counters outfitted with protective panes and staff in proper PPE. Hand sanitizing stations have been placed throughout the airports. When boarding, travelers will undergo a no-contact process and board the aircraft from back to front. Passengers are now only allowed to bring one personal belonging onto their flight as a carry-on. Onboard, travelers will receive a “hygiene kit,” fit with a mask, hand sanitizer, and an antiseptic tissue. All comfort items, like blankets and textiles, are cleaned after every flight, and while blankets will still be offered on flights over four hours, their pillow service has been suspended. In-flight entertainment and headphone services have remained largely unchanged, but all print publications have been removed so are only available via their PressReader app. Turkish Airlines’ food service has been greatly reduced and depends upon the duration of the flight; all food is now offered prepackaged with single-use products, and only bottled water is served on flights under two hours. 

Sanitation: After each flight, all high-touch points are cleaned by special teams, and each aircraft is disinfected using the “fogging” method after arriving at Turkish Airlines’ hub airport. All Turkish Airlines aircraft are outfitted with HEPA filters that help improve air circulation and remove particles from the air like viruses and bacteria. All cabinet members have their temperatures taken before each flight and are outfitted with proper PPE for proper protection. In each crew, a member is appointed a “hygiene expert” to enforce all onboard social-distancing and hygiene measures. 

For more information, click here. 

Check out these articles from the Bébé Voyage blog for updates on other airlines around the world as well as how to travel safely while flying.

What To Pack When Flying During The Pandemic

Is It Safe To Fly Again? A Pilot’s View On Air Travel During Covid19


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