Top 10 North American Airlines for COVID-19 Traveler Safety Measures

A woman wearing a face mask on an airplane. (photo via exithamster / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
Patrick Clarke
by Patrick Clarke
Last updated: 7:00 AM ET, Thu August 27, 2020

Safety in the Skies

Airlines are requiring face masks, blocking middle seats, enhancing cleaning and much more to keep travelers safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic but some are faring better than others. On Wednesday, Safe Travel Barometer released its Safe Travel Scores for airlines around the world. The results are based on an independent audit of more than 150 airlines and as many as 20 traveler health and safety measures announced as part of the industry's new-look pre-boarding, boarding and onboard experiences. Here are the 10 safest carriers in North America as of August 2020.

10. Frontier Airlines

Frontier Airlines, which began requiring all passengers and crew to undergo touchless temperature screenings in June, rounds out the top 10 North American airlines for COVID-19 traveler safety measures with a Safe Travel score of 3.5 out of 5.

T7. WestJet

Canadian airline WestJet has stepped up cleaning, adjusted boarding policies and changed up onboard service in response to the pandemic en route to earning a Safe Travel score of 3.6, good enough to tie for seventh.

T7. VivaAerobus

VivaAerobus is the only Mexican airline to make the top 10, tying for seventh with a Safe Travel score of 3.6. The carrier notes that its fleet is outfitted with HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filters and that it's increased the frequency of onboard cleaning in recent months.

T7. Air Canada

Canada's flag carrier is the country's highest-ranking airline when it comes to COVID-19 safety measures, tying VivaAerobus and WestJet with a score of 3.6 out of 5. Air Canada has taken numerous steps to combat the spread of coronavirus this summer, debuting its CleanCare+ program in May, rolling out flexible booking policies and even partnering with a portable COVID-19 testing firm.

6. Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines (4 out of 5) is blocking middle seats through at least October 31 to promote social distancing and streamlining snack and beverage service to limit contact. However, the low-cost carrier still allows customers to choose their own seats, which unfortunately means no back-to-front boarding.

T4. JetBlue

JetBlue is tied for fourth-best in North America for safety with a respectable Safe Travel score of 4.1. Earlier this month, the carrier announced several updates to its Safety from the Ground Up program, including strengthening its face-covering policy and extending its commitment to seat distancing for flights through at least October 15.

T4. Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines (4.1 out of 5) will be rolling out new touch-free options for guests and employees in the coming weeks, including the option to pre-order meals and purchase food and beverages onboard using a stored credit card and the ability to print bag tags without having to touch check-in kiosks and have agents scan boarding passes up to six feet away.

3. Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines is all alone in third place with a Safe Travel score of 4.2. The carrier just recently enhanced its comprehensive "Keeping You Safe" program, requiring all travelers 2 years of age and older to wear a face mask and banning face-coverings made with mesh, sheer material or equipped with valves. Hawaiian also introduced new health screening for those with medical conditions or disabilities preventing them from wearing a mask.

T1. Allegiant Air

Allegiant Air is tied for first with a Safe Travel score of 4.4 out of 5. The Las Vegas-based low-cost carrier was the first in the U.S. to provide all passengers with free health and safety kits including face masks and cleansing wipes and has implemented a system to notify concerned customers if their flight exceeds 65 percent capacity so they can rebook.

T1. Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines is the safest of the Big Four U.S. airlines, according to the Safe Travel Barometer, earning a 4.4 out of 5. In addition to blocking middle seats, Delta has partnered with organizations like the Mayo Clinic and RB (makers of Lysol) and is looking into how ATP testing devices that are used to swab surfaces in hospitals and restaurants could be incorporated into its cleaning program.

The Safe Travel Barometer rates airlines based on the efforts they're taking to protect passengers during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Helping leisure selling travel agents successfully manage their at-home business.

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Laurence Pinckney

Laurence Pinckney

CEO of Zenbiz Travel, LLC

About Me