As you all know, I have not been traveling much since the pandemic began last year. My first flight since last March, when I visited Houston, occurred in January on American Airlines. I have been itching to travel so I got fully vaccinated and even managed to find some cheap international health insurance for a possible trip to Costa Rica. While patiently waiting for my next adventure, I noticed a significant change on the United Airlines’ app while checking the status of my sister’s return flight to Houston. The change? A section titled “How’s My Flight Tracking?” located beneath my favorite feature of the mobile app, Where is my aircraft coming from?.
Now, I get I may be late to the party on this feature but I found it to be very interesting. The How’s My Flight Tracking allows passengers to check the status of the aircraft until boarding. The status included three steps to ensure aircrew and passenger safety prior to and during boarding. Those three steps were: 1) plane cleaned, 2) plane arrival, and 3) plane boarding.
The “How’s My Flight Tracking” section can be found under Flight Status Details in the United Airlines Mobile app. It stood out to me because it had the big NEW label attached. Now that I think about it, I do not remember receiving an email or other correspondence announcing the addition of this section. I clicked the tab and it brought me to the first section, Plane Cleaned.
The Plane Cleaned section does exactly as the names implies, lets the passenger know the airplane has been cleaned and sanitized. Specifically, the section outlines that high touched surfaces such as arm rests, door handles, lavatories, setback screens and seat belts have been disinfected. Additionally, this section also informs the passengers of electrostatic spraying in the cabin from floor to ceiling. I had no idea what the term electrostatic spraying meant so I went to the internet. Apparently, electrostatic spraying is when a positive charge is added to a liquid as it passes through the nozzle so it becomes attracted to negatively charged surfaces, especially nonporous ones. Kinda neat.
The next section, Plane Arrival, alerts passenger to the airplanes arrival at the gate. I feel this section should be number 1, instead of number 2. Am I missing something here? The plane would need to be cleaned after arrival, right? The sections goes on to tell passengers to avoid crowding around the gate until boarding has begun. Gate lice, or people crowding the gate before boarding, has been an issue for as long as I have been flying. As much as I would like people to heed this note, I am almost certain people are still crowding gates…to hell with social distancing.
The final section is Welcome Aboard! It reminds passengers to wear their masks, if they are not doing so already and maintain social distancing when possible. I think the social distancing is possible only on the jet bridge. Social distancing is non-existent in the terminal and aboard the aircraft.
I can appreciate United Airlines taking the health of passengers and crew seriously during these trying times. The transparency in the updated feature from United Airlines’ mobile app is welcomed as it informs the traveler exactly what steps are being used to facilitate a safe environment. Now, if only all us would get on the same page in trying to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.