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Air Canada

Alaska, Spirit and United Make APEX Health Safety List

Alaska, Spirit and United Make APEX Health Safety List
Joe Cortez

Three U.S.-based carriers have been certified as “Health Safety” airlines for their COVID-19 protocols by the Airline Passenger Experience Association and SimpliFlying. Alaska Airlines and United Airlines both reached Diamond certification, while Spirit Airlines was granted a Platinum rating.

Of the airlines rated by the Airlines Passenger Experience Association (APEX) and SimpliFlying for health safety, four based in North America have earned high ratings for their COVID-19 response and protocol. In a press release, the two groups announced their first APEX Health Safety ratings powered by SimpliFlying.

Air Canada, Alaska and United Earn Diamond, while Spirit Earns Platinum

According to the groups, the Health Safety certifications cover a 58-point checklist across 10 airline categories. The carriers are checked for testing, tracing, on-the-ground procedures, in-flight measures and partnerships with other companies to improve health and wellness.

To earn the lowest “Gold” standard, airlines must “clearly meet and exceeds all needed health standards for passenger safety and well-being as listed in the questionnaire.” Those that go beyond the checklist earn “Platinum” status, while those who have “hospital-grade level health safety” are given the “Diamond” award.

In the first group recognized by APEX, Air Canada, Alaska Airlines and United Airlines all earned Diamond honors. Joining them in the top tier are Middle East carriers Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways and Saudia, Singapore Airlines, Turkish Airlines and Virgin Atlantic. U.S.-based low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines received a Platinum rating, putting them in league with South American airline JetSmart and Asian carrier SriLankan Airlines.

“As more travelers return to the skies, APEX wants customers to know the verified steps being taken by airlines worldwide for their well-being,” APEX CEO Dr. Joe Leader stated in the press release. “Every step that we take with airlines to set even higher standards for health safety for passengers ultimately help keep people safer in-the-air and on-the-ground.”

The groups say the certification “provides a scientifically based validation designed to encourage airlines to reach beyond governmental requirements to a higher standard.”

Despite Awards, Hazards Potentially Await Flyers on Aircraft

Even though the certifications are designed to inspire customer confidence, noted investigations and research suggests that there are still significant health hazards that could affect flyers. A research paper from New Zealand suggests COVID-19 could easily spread aboard aircraft, while an in-depth investigation from The Los Angeles Times warns fume incidents on flights may be more common than the airlines report.

View Comments (5)


  1. strickerj

    January 12, 2021 at 1:24 pm

    Delta didn’t make the list despite seat blocking and virtually eliminating cabin service? :)

  2. dhturk

    January 13, 2021 at 9:01 am

    For those of us around in the ‘60’s, those three letters had a quite different meaning (not by me).

  3. Jack Simpson

    January 13, 2021 at 9:17 am

    Hah! The airline that had a passenger, who is a physician, literally beaten in his seat then dragged down the aisle and kicked off the flight wins a health safety award. Now, there is a genuine irony.

  4. cosflyer

    January 14, 2021 at 10:29 pm

    what passenger are you referring too?

  5. arollins

    January 18, 2021 at 8:37 pm

    cosflyer Google Dr Dao, United 3411, that was big news in 2017. then again the settlement was also big as well.

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