The airline industry has been hit especially hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Hardly a surprise, countries across the globe instituted nationwide lockdowns earlier this year and effectively brought air travel to a near standstill. Even now that things are slowly but surely opening back up, air travel isn’t exactly a top priority for many people these days. In light of that, Alitalia — the largest airline in Italy — recently rolled out an arguably clever marketing ploy to convince potential travelers to return to the sky.
As detailed on One Mile at a Time, Alitalia recently launched coronavirus-free flights to give passengers peace of mind. The airline will ensure that everyone on board is coronavirus-free by requiring passengers to submit a negative coronavirus screening test within 72 hours before the flight. The new initiative, for now, doesn’t apply to international air travel and will instead be tested on a route between Rome and Milan. Incidentally, that particular route is about an hour or so each way.
As to how the testing and mechanics will work, the report notes:
- For those who got tested before travel, a Ministry of Maritime, Air, and Border Health (USMAF) doctor will check the validity of the certificate held by the passenger
- A passenger without a negative certificate can undergo a free rapid antigen test directly at the airport, via a lane dedicated to those two flights
- Results from the tests will be provided within 30 minutes, and passengers have to stay in the test area
- If the result is negative, passengers will receive a negative certificate and can board, while if the result is positive, passengers will need to follow normal health protocols
If you hop on the Alitalia website and look for specific flights, you’ll note that some entries are designated COVID-tested flights. From a quick glance, it doesn’t appear that the COVID flights are more expensive than regular flights. If anything, it appears that they’re cheaper across the board, even when controlling for different departure times.
Now is this necessary in the first place? Arguably, not at all. While it’s not advisable for anyone to be flying these days, airplanes in and of themselves aren’t particularly dangerous when it comes to spreading the coronavirus.
The CDC notes:
Air travel requires spending time in security lines and airport terminals, which can bring you in close contact with other people and frequently touched surfaces. Most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes. However, social distancing is difficult on crowded flights, and sitting within 6 feet of others, sometimes for hours, may increase your risk of getting COVID-19.
Regardless, a coronavirus-free flight is a nice option to have for travelers who might be especially concerned about catching the virus.