"The earlier we maximize air flow over our HEPA filtration system, the better for our crew and our customers,” United's CEO said.

By Alison Fox
July 21, 2020
Advertisement

United Airlines demonstrated how its high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration system works this week in an effort to reassure passengers.

In a video posted online on Monday, the carrier showed how both outside air and filtered air is circulated every two to three minutes, which the company said removes 99.97 percent of particles. The explanation comes as United pledged to maximize air flow with these HEPA filtration systems while boarding and deplaning its aircraft.

Courtesy of United Airlines

“We know the environment on an aircraft is safe and because the air flow is designed to minimize the transmission of disease, the earlier we maximize air flow over our HEPA filtration system, the better for our crew and our customers,” United’s CEO, Scott Kirby, said in a statement provided to Travel + Leisure. “We expect that air travel is not likely to get back to normal until we’re closer to a widely administered vaccine – so we’re in this for the long haul. And I am going to keep encouraging our team to explore and implement new ideas, new technologies, new policies, and new procedures that better protect our customers and employees.”

To understand how the system works, United explained outside air is first pulled in through the plane’s engines. The air is then combined with cabin air, which has been filtered through a HEPA filter. The air in the cabin is continually circulated through vents on both the ceiling and near the floor, according to United.

While several U.S. airlines — including Delta and Southwest — have committed to blocking middle seats and limiting capacity on planes, United has instead chosen to allow flights to book up and notify customers if that flight is expected to be more than 70 percent full.

United has also committed to banning customers who refuse to wear masks on board and requires passengers to verify their health status during check-in.