A Qatar Airways flight attendant wearing personal protective equipment.

  • Qatar Airways is now requiring its passengers to wear a face shield in addition to a face mask when flying on the airline.
  • The disposable shields will be distributed to passengers at check-in or during boarding.
  • Business class passengers are exempt from the rule and are only required to wear the mask and shield "at their discretion."
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Qatar Airways is stepping up its onboard personal hygiene requirements by requiring its passengers to wear not only a face mask but also a face shield.

Except when eating and drinking, economy flyers are required to wear both items at all times including during boarding and deplaning.

Passengers will receive the plastic shields during the boarding process, except for those originating from the airline's main hub in Doha who will receive the masks during check-in. The shields come in two sizes, one for adults and one for children, and come as part of a hygiene kit that also includes hand sanitizer, a face mask, and gloves.

Not all passengers onboard, however, are required to don either the face mask or face shield for any portion of the flight as those seated in business class are exempt from the rule.

"Business Class customers are asked to wear their face shield and mask onboard at their own discretion, as they enjoy more space and privacy," the airline's announcement states.

Plastic face shield that Qatar Airways will distribute to passengers.

Qatar Airways' newer long-haul jets are fitted with Qsuites, business class suites that have closable doors and partitions separating surrounding seats. But smaller aircraft and those without the Qsuite product still feature open seats with few dividers between customers.

Cabin crew will be wearing additional personal protective equipment including a disposable gown to be worn over uniforms, as well as safety glasses, a mask, and gloves.

While requiring at least a face covering has become commonplace among global airlines, Qatar Airways is among the first to take it to the next level by requiring the additional face shield. Wearing a face mask helps reduce the spread of coronavirus from a carrier by as much as 85% with the face shield acting as a secondary layer of protection for the wearer, according to studies cited by Time.

Like its Middle Eastern competitors, the Qatari flag carrier's business model revolves around connecting the world through Doha and at the moment, that includes flying to countries where the virus has not yet fully subsided. The additional requirements help prevent the virus' spread onboard and come just under a month after 12 passengers flying from Doha to Athens tested positive for the virus, according to Al Jazeera, prompting Qatar Airways to suspend flights to Greece in early June.

As Qatar Airways' chief strategy and transformation officer, Thierry Antinori, told Business Insider in June, the airline has been introducing measures to establish the airline as "reliable." The past few months have seen Qatar Airways act largely as a repatriation carrier by continuing to fly with the goal of bringing people home.

As leisure travel begins to rebound, however, the airline is attempting to inspire confidence in all travelers by introducing generous flexible booking policies and now, strengthening its onboard passenger protections.