Focus on wellness will be at core of renewed travel experiences: Neerja Bhatia, Vice President, Etihad Airways

The face of air travel is sure to change and a new normal will gradually emerge writes Neerja Bhatia.


The world is facing an unprecedented global health, social and economic crisis. This pandemic has affected every industry and aviation is no exception. There has been a significant impact on tourism as well, with several travel restrictions across the globe and a slump in demand among travellers.

For us at Etihad Airways, the safety and health of our guests and employees will always be of paramount concern and remain a top priority. We continue to abide by the UAE and international government, regulatory and health authority directives and have taken multiple measures to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The face of air travel is sure to change and a new normal will gradually emerge. The focus on wellness of our guests and employees will be at the core of renewed travel experiences for Etihad. Some of our temporary measures will include:

Etihad Wellness Ambassadors

In an industry first initiative, Etihad has introduced trained Wellness Ambassadors who will be available round the clock to assist guests so that they can travel with greater peace of mind. Currently, guests can reach out to them via e-mail and soon this service will be available as a web-chat option. In the coming weeks, Etihad will also introduce these Wellness Ambassadors at Abu Dhabi International Airport in partnership with Abu Dhabi Airports (ADAC) as well as on-board once the airline resumes an expanded network of international flights

Aircraft and cabin deep cleaning

On arrival at each destination, our aircraft undergo detailed cleaning, a practice that was already in place prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. On flights deemed low-risk, a general clean and disinfection process will be conducted in Abu Dhabi. For any aircraft arriving from a territory deemed medium or high risk or if a suspected case has travelled on the aircraft, Etihad will deep-cleaning and disinfecting the aircraft

Cabin air filtration cleaning

We understand that people might be wary about the risk of contracting the virus in a confined area.

However, our aircraft have HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters which are effective in capturing more than 99 per cent of airborne microbes in filtered air. The cabin air flow is continuous, and delivered at a rate equivalent to up to 30 changes per hour

Stricter measures at check-in counters

At Abu Dhabi International Airport, strict measures are in place at check-in counters to practice social distancing and a safer airport environment. These include floor marking to ensure social distancing, check-in teams wearing gloves and face masks, and regular sanitisation of check-in counters

Thermal screening at airports

Body temperature screening will be carried out prior to boarding an Etihad Airways flight and the airline’s screening agents will wear full personal protection equipment

Safety on-board

Our teams on-board will be wearing surgical face masks and other protective gear at all times. During the journey, if any passenger or crew member begins to feel unwell, our teams will create an on-board quarantine zone and inform medical authorities prior to arrival at the destination

Boarding and disembarking ensuring social distancing

Social distancing will also be implemented during boarding and disembarkation. Guests will be encouraged to board and disembark in small numbers, ensuring a sufficient distance is maintained, with no crowding allowed on jet bridges or steps

Etihad remains committed to its largest market outside its home market, India, where we’ve operated for over fifteen years now. Once the restrictions on international air travel ease out and people are ready to travel, our aircraft will be standing, waiting to welcome guests and bring the world closer together once again.

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