Flying on WestJet planes is about to look a little more familiar. On Friday, June 26, Calgary-based airline WestJet announced that they'll no longer be applying social distancing rules on their flights. This WestJet update said that the change is set to go into effect on Wednesday, July 1.
The airline was previously enforcing a one-seat distance between every passenger, leaving many seats empty per flight.*
"Safety is at the forefront of every decision we make and as our industry adapts to a new normal, we will continue to adjust our health measures to ensure the safest travel experience," the airline said in a statement sent to Narcity by WestJet spokesperson Morgan Bell.
They explained how they're ensuring safety is maintained on their aircrafts, despite the lack of physical distancing.
The airline is acting on the guidance of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to put these new changes in place.
"IATA’s guidance supports the removal of seat distancing," the statement read. But they will only approve it if the airline carries out other protection measures instead.
As a result, the airline will be putting in HEPA filters inside the planes to "help clean recirculated air." WestJet noted that all their aircraft are already fitted with these filters.
They also stated that "the direction of the airflow from ceiling to floor reduces forward and aft movement of air."
Plus, they say that the seatbacks will provide an additional physical barrier between passengers.
Though they're removing physical distancing between seats, all customers are still required to go through all other safety checks.
Such checks include mandatory temperature scans before boarding, enhanced sanitization for all touchpoints, and airport fogging.
Passengers and crew members are still required to wear masks when they're onboard the flight.
The airline noted that they're spending millions of dollars in cleaning and sanitization measures, including the provision of vital PPE for their staff and employees.
"The safety of our guests and WestJetters is and always will be our top priority and since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis," read the statement.
We've already seen Flair Airlines charging extra for customers to get some physical distancing. But WestJet has decided to end the whole arrangement altogether.
*This article has been updated.