Since COVID-19 was discovered in January 2020, the world has changed dramatically. As travel was shuttered, the world watched as airline after airline was grounded and thousands upon thousands of flights were cancelled. With airlines asking for government bailouts as angry customers demand refunds for their cancelled flights, it can be hard to consider the future of travel – but the future is coming.
As coronavirus cases diminish and countries look to reopen, the airline industry is anxious to recoup their losses. While there is a minor uptick in travellers, overall there are about 90% less flyers and flights than this time last year. However, the world of flying as we knew it may be forever changed by the pandemic. Whether you’re a frequent business flier, an avid traveller or someone who only steps into an airport once a year, here are some flying tips during and after the pandemic.
During the pandemic
While the suggestion right now from most governments is to avoid all non-essential travel, there may still be times during the pandemic when you will need to fly. While the concept might be intimidating, arming yourself with information is key.
First, airports are looking to minimize any hand-to-hand contact, so you will be expected to scan your own papers like boarding passes and passports instead of handing it to an officer. Some airports are also asking passengers to stash phones, keys, and wallets to reduce touchpoints.
When on the plane, one thing to remember is that a plane’s HEPA filtration system is already very effective at removing germs and viruses from the air. Airlines have also stepped up cleaning procedures for the plane (which weren’t very mandated before the pandemic), and are also asking passengers to wear face coverings or masks. Travel blogs like inspire4travel are already discussing ways travellers can protect themselves while flying.
After the pandemic
Once the pandemic ends, expect prices to increase. The cost of recouping losses, plus being forced to upgrade plane interiors, and increase cleaning are all added costs that may affect the cost of your ticket.
When arriving at the airport, the time that will be required to board may increase – and some are even predicting it may take up to four hours to board a plane. Many airports or airlines are discussing checking temperature on patients with touch-free thermometers, however, unions, passenger safety advocates, and medical experts are uncertain about the effectiveness of these methods and how the information will be used.
Your plane will also look different. Some airlines are discussing decreasing capacity or removing the middle seat to help maintain social distancing. Plastic sneeze guards may be installed between seats and drink and food service may be removed to minimise touchpoints.
While you may have been wiping down your seat’s armrests before the pandemic, rest assured your plane will be much cleaner now. From disinfectant fogging to full wipe downs, planes are now being cleaned between every flight (another reason your time at the airport will be longer).
In general, the future of flying is an uncertain one now as airlines look for the best ways to balance their budget, their passengers’ safety, and not allowing the cost of flying to go through the roof.