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Delta Awarded ‘Diamond’ APEX Rating for Cleanliness
Delta has earned a Diamond rating from the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) and SimpliFlying for customer safety throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
The rating is the highest of the three-tiered certification for the award determined through an independent health and safety audit.
The audit consists of an online questionnaire covering ten categories, including testing, tracing, in-flight safety measures and measures on the ground, among other areas.
Delta’s CareStandard helped lead towards its Diamond rating. The CareStandard features over 100 layers of protection, such as blocking middle seats, requiring masks and replacing HEPA filters twice as often as recommended, to ensure a safe experience for customers and employees.
On its accreditation, Delta’s Vice President of Global Cleanliness, Mike Medeiros, said in a press release,“Keeping our people, our customers and our communities safe has never been more important.”
“We’ll continue to focus on our health and safety protocols, developed in collaboration with partners like Mayo Clinic and RB, the makers of Lysol, as we deepen our presence with teams of clean ambassadors at airports and deploy new and emerging innovation to remain both effective and efficient,” added Medeiros.
Other measures Delta implemented to receive the Diamond rating included installing hand sanitizer stations on aircraft, using Lysol wipes to clean customer-facing areas and working with TSA to introduce antimicrobial bins to screening lanes at select hubs.
Shashank Nigam, the CEO of SimpliFlying – who validate the airlines’ safety checklists against the 58-point audit – said: “Delta Air Lines has raised the bar for health safety in the industry by initiatives such as ATP devices to assess the surface cleanliness, antimicrobial LED lighting above lavatory sinks and countertops and oversight by a dedicated management team.”
“Taking such hospital-grade measures in ensuring health safety will help bolster trust among travelers,” added Nigam.
In the Delta press release, Medeiros stated: “We have high hopes that vaccinations will tame the virus this year, but we know that the next few months will be difficult.”
Who else is participating?
APEX reports that 33 airlines are, so far, taking part in the program. These include Alaska Airlines, Air Canada and Virgin Atlantic, who also earned Diamond status; and Spirit, who received the lower Platinum rating alongside SriLankan Airlines.
The CEO of APEX, Dr. John Leader, said in an article about the program, “APEX believes that there will be gravitation to Gold, Platinum and Diamond airlines by the second quarter of 2021. This may be a component of corporate travel policies moving forward.”
“We will have an ongoing obligation to maintain customer wellness as an integral part of airline passenger experience,” Leader advised, as the article reports the need for innovations around passenger health will not go away after COVID.
The article also reports that a third of rated airlines improved their safety measures following accreditation. To advance through the three tiers – Gold, Platinum and Diamond – airlines must implement 50% more safety steps than Platinum to get from Gold, with Diamond ratings indicating that an airline has installed ‘hospital-grade’ measures.
Similar to the APEX program, airports are also able to be accredited for high health and safety standards in operations. Hong Kong International Airport was among the first to receive the Airport Health Accreditation (AHA) in September 2020.
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