By Cailey Rizzo
Updated March 03, 2020
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As a response to the spread of coronavirus, airlines and cruise lines are now using some of the heaviest-grade disinfectants.

In a press release, Delta released a new set of guidelines for the cleanliness of their planes during the coronavirus outbreak.

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“For all trans-Pacific and trans-Atlantic flights, cleaning crews are required to complete a rigorous 19-point checklist for cabin cleanliness including disinfecting cabin surfaces and customer contact areas such as seats, seatback pockets, tray tables and floors,” the airline said. “Common area surfaces in galleys and lavatories are also disinfected using the same high-grade, EPA-registered disinfectant used in all aircraft cleaning procedures.” 

Despite the common belief that airplanes are just recirculating the same air, Delta says all of its international planes and many domestic are equipped with “state-of-the-art air circulation systems” with air filters which “extract more than 99.999% of even the tiniest viruses, as small as 0.01 micrometers.”

For reference, coronaviruses range in size from 0.08 to 0.16 micrometers and are filtered out by the system.

Additionally, all tableware and galley equipment is sanitized and disinfected before washing. Passengers on international flights are also being given amenity kits with hand sanitizer or cleansing towelettes. And all inbound flights from Asia and Italy are being treated with a “highly-effective, EPA-registered disinfectant” fogging technique to clean the entire cabin.

According to The Los Angeles Times, Singapore Airlines is using a similar fogging technique with a chemical called Calla 1452. Qantas began using a hospital-grade disinfectant called Viraclean in its cabins. Korean Air is using one called MD-125. 

Qatar Airways released a video on their social media accounts to show passengers how they disinfect their cabins "so that you can enjoy a comfortable flight across our network."

United Airlines is still using a cleaning process first introduced during the Ebola outbreak of 2014. After every international flight, every hard surface touched by a passenger is wiped down with a disinfecting solution. Any United flight that is known to have carried a coronavirus patient is taken out of service for a complete fumigation and sterilization which includes shampooing the carpets. 

The increased cleaning is also happening on cruise ships. A spray called Virox is being sprayed over Carnival cruise ships. 

"Each of the brands that fall under the Carnival Corporation umbrella have in place specific sanitation protocol on our cruise ships that is effectively used throughout our fleet," Roger Frizzell, chief communications officer at Carnival Corporation, told Business Insider. "Our ships' routine cleaning and sanitizing protocols continuously use a disinfectant known to quickly kill coronavirus in 30 seconds on hard surfaces."

It’s worth noting that humans are much more contagious and likely to spread the coronavirus than hard surfaces. The virus can live in a person for two weeks without symptoms. Although The LA Times notes, it’s unknown how long the viruses that cause COVID-19 can live on surfaces, studies suggest it’s somewhere between a few hours to a few days.