In mid-July, two of our Client Relationship Managers, Tom Arnold and Cheyenne Randolph, visited Chicago O’Hare Airport to see what United Airlines has been up to. The pair met with Brian Watson, the Airport Operations Supervisor for United at Chicago O’Hare Airport, to receive a behind-the-scenes tour of the airport and discuss the United CleanPlus program. He walked them through the new cleaning processes, from the time the traveler gets off the plane to when the next traveler gets on, and they have put together the following to share why they feel safer on a United flight than in their own cars!
In the Airport
We were thrilled to see the extent to which United is social distancing, including plexi-glass between all travelers and employees and touchless kiosks at check in. There are also markers throughout the experience encouraging customers to stay six feet apart at all times. Social distancing is also encouraged in the lounge, with decreased seating and serving only packaged foods. Don’t worry, beer and wine are still available and delicious.
United partnered with Clorox and the Cleveland Clinic to create the United CleanPlus program, elevating their cleaning standards to focus on hard to reach areas as well. This is where the Electrostatic Sprayer comes into play. Brian told us the electrostatic sprayer, also called the ESS, is “a handheld device and the technology allows it to wrap around. It’s really cool. So where you think a person wipes something down, it’s only on the surface, right? This one actually wraps around things, crawls up walls, goes into spaces where you wouldn’t expect to go. That’s the cool thing about this technology. What it’s doing is it’s disinfecting.” By opening the shades to 50%, they ensure that the disinfectant is able to crawl into these spaces killing “99.9% of viruses, germs, bacteria, SARS, COVID-19, enveloped viruses”. The ESS is not only used on the plane, but in all boarding gate areas and employee spaces as well. Brian told us “if we know of any potential sickness or illness, we’ll do it immediately, but we effectively apply deep cleaning missions and electrostatic spraying daily”.
Cheyenne even used her sanitary wipe to test this when she boarded her own flight back to LAX from ORD that same day and was pleased to see how clean it was!
United was committed to cleanliness even before COVID, prepping the plane for travelers by picking up all trash, vacuuming, opening up tray tables, iPad holders, bins and disinfecting all common contact surfaces including seat backs, arm rests and lavatories.
We were excited to learn more about the HEPA filters used in planes as air quality has been a hot topic when discussing returning to travel. Garrett West, Managing Director of Tech Ops, explained the filters to us and how the air filtration system works. He also explained that the filters are 99.97% effective, hospital grade and that they refresh the air every 2 to 3 minutes.
Passengers board from the rear to the front, decreasing the amount of people you pass while getting on the plane. Once on the flight, drinks and snacks are either in a plastic bag or sealed and handed to the passengers from the bottom to eliminate contact.
While Tom lives in Chicago, Cheyenne came for the airport visit from California on her first trip since COVID-19. She told us “After not being able to travel for 141 days (not that I’ve been counting!), I must admit I was nervous to see what it would be like to fly on a plane again. However, after experiencing it for myself and seeing all the ways that United has committed to providing a clean experience for their travelers, I can say confidently that I cannot wait to book my next trip.”