For the first time post lockdown, the Indian government has allowed in-flight meals on both domestic and international flights. Which means that airlines can resume the meal service. Passengers on international flights will now be served hot meals and limited beverages, including alcohol, instead of the packed food and cold non-alcoholic beverage and water bottles that were kept on seats to minimise the crew-flyer interaction till now during the pandemic.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation issued an amended Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) which said, “In all classes, tea/coffee/alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage service will be in disposable cans/containers/bottles/ glasses. There will be no pouring service and beverages will be served in singleuse disposable units.”
The only difference for domestic flights in this amended order is that alcoholic beverages are not allowed.
In-flight Entertainment (IFE) screens in the aircraft have also been allowed with a condition that before the boarding of passengers, each screen should be disinfected and cleaned thoroughly. Disposable or disinfected headphones can now be given to passengers. The earlier SOP required IFE to be switched off to minimise touch on aircraft surfaces. The order also added, “Wearing a fresh set of gloves for every meal/ beverage service is must and while allowing meals, beverages and IFE, the stress is on hygiene and strict disinfection of each cutlery item and screen should be paramount.”
Earlier, the government had banned the meal and beverage service and in-flight entertainment when flights resumed in the domestic segment from 25 May and in the international segment under Vande Bharat Mission since 7 May. India had suspended domestic flights from 25 March and international flights from 23 March in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.