United Airlines debuts cleaning protocols with Clorox to lure back flyers

Dive Brief:

  • United Airlines unveiled new cleaning protocols and travel safety measures in a move to rebuild trust in flying, the company announced in a press release.
  • The airline partnered with Clorox and medical experts at Cleveland Clinic to develop its new United CleanPlus program. The platform will serve as a guide for United’s new cleaning, safety and social distancing measures.
  • Clorox products will be used at United’s hub airports, and touchless kiosks will be available in select locations. Baggage check-in will have sneeze guards. Crew and customers will be required to wear face masks and practice social distancing. As part of the program, United will keep the dialog open with the Cleveland Clinic and update these measures as new scientific findings and technologies become available.

Dive Insight:

As the U.S. begins to ease coronavirus lockdowns and people slowly return to normal life, consumers may still be hesitant to travel again as concerns that flying or staying in a hotel could expose them to the novel coronavirus.‚Äč Alleviating those fears likely needs to come before any sales promotions, which is why United Airlines and the travel industry more broadly are working to communicate that it’s safe to travel by overhauling cleaning protocols and promising a hygienic travel experience.

United’s new cleaning program comes as people flying during the pandemic have posted photos on social media of packed flights and a lack of social distancing.

The push around hygiene is, in some cases, resulting in unique brand partnerships as travel-related brands try to piggyback on the equity that well-know cleanliness-related brands have built over the years. The airline’s move follows similar measures by Hilton, Marriott and Airbnb, which recently announced new cleaning plans to prevent the virus’ spread. Hilton partnered with Lysol’s parent company RB and the Mayo Clinic to develop new processes and staff training programs for The Hilton CleanStay with Lysol protection program. Marriott created a global cleanliness council to develop technology for enhanced cleaning procedures, including hospital-grade disinfectant.

These efforts aim to reignite an industry that has all but come to a halt, though the crescendo of travel returning to a pre-pandemic normal is forecast to be slow or not return at all. U.S. airlines have cut their flights as travel demand is down 90%, CNBC reported. United posted a net loss of $1.7 billion in Q1, and it’s too soon to predict what the rest of the year holds when it comes to consumer spending and financial results of travel companies.

United’s program comes under the direction of a new CEO, Scott Kirby, who was promoted to the role from president earlier this month. Faced with dire circumstances, he has promised to be aggressive to turn the business around, according to CNBC.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the current parent company for the Clorox brand. It is owned by The Clorox Company.

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