Garuda flight attendants may drop face masks due to passenger complaints

In a time when the safety and biosecurity of everyone are a major concern, there is a possibility that Garuda Indonesia may replace those face masks worn by flight attendants. The reason? Passenger are complaining that they cannot see if flight attendants are smiling or not.

In a report from The Jakarta Post, Garuda president director Irfan Setiaputra said, "many Garuda customers have complained about the flight attendants wearing masks as the passengers cannot see whether or not the flight attendants are smiling or frowning.”

Garuda cabin crew have began wearing face masks as means of protection against any coronavirus transmission since the airline resumed flights last May 7.

According to Irfan, face shields will be issued out to flight attendants as a replacement for face masks. "With this, human interaction on the plane can still occur, although minimized, and everyone can feel safe but also comfortable."

Safety over comfort?

In a message to The Jakarta Post, Irfan said, "Two things are important for Garuda right now, safety and comfort, but the former is prioritized over the latter."

However in a circular issued on June 8, the Transportation Ministry's civil aviation director general stipulated that flight attendants were required to wear masks and gloves for personal safety except in cases where wearing such protective equipment would interfere with their safety duties.

Smiles on top of safety

While a flight attendant's smile is important for an airline's branding and customer service, it however does not have any significance when it comes to the safety and biosecurity of passengers, the rest of the crew, and the whole flight. 

Flight attendants use face masks as a biosecurity measure to protect themselves and passengers against the coronavirus and other contaminants. While it may be replaced with a face shield, a face shield may not be as effective in protecting against viruses. Its just like removing an automobile's seat belts to be replaced by air bags to protect the passenger.

Safety is paramount, and should never be secondary.

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