The future of travel after COVID-19
June is the month that air travel will be brought back. Many people feel hopeful for a holiday this year, albeit it being closer to home than wanted: Europe seems to be the only destination available this summer with international travel still being unsure.
Although the opening of borders is great news, it does lead to some questions: what steps are airlines taking to ensure the safety of their passengers and how will COVID-19 change the air travel industry in general? Considering the current climate and the recommendations for the future, it looks like the way we travel is in for a huge change.
Let us take you through a step-by-step guide of what flying will look like in the months to come. From online check-in to etiquette on the plane, here are all the expected changes, proposed by the leading travel experts. Welcome to the sanitised future of air travel.
During online check-in, travellers are asked to only upload their passport details, choose a seat and maybe pay for any extra services that they would like. This process won’t see that big of a change: now, you’ll be required to upload health or an immunity passport, confirming that you have COVID-19 antibodies present. This would be similar to the Yellow Fever card you need to present when travelling to some countries.
New extra services are expected to emerge as well. Airlines are going to offer all-inclusive insurance, issuing full refunds in case you’re denied boarding. Masks, gloves and an empty seat next to yours will probably become new must-haves.
At the airport
Walking straight through security might be a thing of the past. As a passenger, you’ll have to go through another instant health assessment at the check-in counter, where you’ll find the airline staff seated behind protective barriers. All bags will go through a disinfection process and masks and gloves will be given to be worn throughout the rest of the journey.
You would no longer be able to choose your seat during check-in. Seats will be assigned by the airline staff to ensure maximised in-flight distancing.
Priority security will most likely cease to exist. All passengers will need to go through a hygiene enhanced security at least a couple of hours before departure. Each tray and carry-on bag will be thoroughly disinfected and security cameras will be updated to see-through face masks.
Boarding & in-flight experience
You’ll have to be ready for boarding at least an hour before departure time. Social distancing will be in place at the waiting area and you can also expect the rise of touchless vending machines and services. Boarding will happen via individual notifications on your mobile phone so passengers can get on the plane one at a time. Those with positive scan results from the check-in health assessment will be denied boarding. The JetBridge will be turned into one last disinfection tunnel before getting on board.
The in-flight experience will differ depending on the airline but some changes will be universal. As already seen in some airlines, cabin crew will be wearing whole-body protective gear. Sanitizing wipes will be given to everyone for their seats and tables, and the safety video will now include a sanitation section. The cabin crew will also be trained on how to handle passengers that display symptoms during the flight.
The only food you can expect will be pre-packed and sealed; no more fresh multi-course meals. The cabin will turn into a touchless space with no cash transactions and in-flight magazines. The safety card will be part of the tray table, leaving the seat pockets in front of you empty.
There might be a new career emerging - the in-flight janitor. Legacy airlines are expected to have a crew that can clean surfaces and lavatories at regular intervals. Emirates already have a team in place to keep the showers onboard First Class crystal clean.
Upon landing, things will also look different. Your bags will be disinfected again before appearing on the conveyor belt. Thermal scanners will be set in place to identify passengers with potential fever and your immunity passport will be checked together with your identification documents.
Airlines will no longer be able to turn around a plane in 30 minutes as deep cleaning will be mandatory after every flight and not just overnight. This will affect low-cost airlines, such as Ryanair and EasyJet, the most, leading to fewer flights and probably higher prices.
Just like after 9/11, the air travel industry is going through another huge transformation. Whether all of these changes will be applied is still to be seen but if confidence in flying after COVID-19 is to be restored, airports and airlines will have to bring current measures to the sanitised future of air travel.
This information has been resourced from SimpliFlying. For the full report, please go here.