Can’t wait to travel again? With talk of air bridges opening, airlines and airports are planning for safe travel. We look at 15 ways travel may look different.
Temperature checks everywhere
Like any establishment where there are continuous movement of people, airport terminals will have mandatory temperature checks probably everywhere deemed necessary.
From the entrance, immigration, inspection, and pre-boarding, expect multiple rounds of temperature checks to be implemented.
Thermal scanners will make a huge comeback, with cameras scanning everyone moving through terminals and security actively watching out for passengers with elevated body temperature readings.
Although some people who have contracted the virus are asymptomatic, a preventive measure such as basic temperature checks go a long way in preventing the spread.
You’ll always be sanitizing – everything
If you aren’t bringing hand sanitizer with you everywhere you go nowadays, you must’ve been living under a rock.
The whole world is currently going through behavioral changes and people are learning new habits, the aim to prevent contracting and spreading the virus.
Hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes and spare face masks should always be on your person.
Expect hand sanitizing stations throughout the terminals and at departure and arrival gates.
Full-body disinfection booths may become common
This may look like something from movies back in the 90’s, but sanitizing booths will probably be present in most airports.
Hong Kong International Airport is already using full-body sanitizing booths that spray people with an antimicrobial spray from head to toe.
Keep your eyes and mouth closed though when undergoing the procedure, or else you’ll get a mouthwash along with eyeball sanitation in the package.
Bags will need to get sanitized too
An extra but necessary step: expect your bags to be sprayed by disinfectant before baggage drop-off and after picking them up at the carousel.
Travelers might be required to take a swab or blood test before a flight and upon arrival
Emirates began administering COVID-19 blood tests to passengers departing from its hub in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in April.
The tests gave results within 10 minutes. See article here: Business Insider: Emirates Tests Passengers COVID19 flights 2020.
Although this 10-minute test system is not yet available for the mass market, we will surely experience an efficient testing procedure for travelling purposes.
Most major travel hubs like Hong Kong and Singapore have setup mandatory COVID-19 testing for all arrivals.
Like drug swabs, x-rays, metal detectors and random frisking, we will get used to it sooner than later.
Medical detection dogs could possibly be trained to detect COVID-19, even in asymptomatic travelers.
Professional working dogs that detect drugs, bombs and other illegal paraphernalia are already normal almost everywhere there is mass movement of people. COVID-19 detection could be a possibility according to CNN.
This is a very high possibility as there are already specially trained dogs that are able to detect infections and diseases like cancer, malaria and Parkinson’s disease.
If anything, they can also provide us with good vibes which helps our overall well-being. As a dog person, seeing a dog somewhere just brightens up my day instantly.
Face masks will be mandatory
Since masks have become mandatory in all public places, it is no surprise that airlines are following suit by making them compulsory for passengers and all plane crew alike.
Can’t wait for a fishing brand to get on the bandwagon and produce not only buffs but face masks for us anglers to wear in public. Shimano? Daiwa? Anyone?
No more waiting in line – instant messaging will notify you when it is time to board
Obviously, social distancing measures will be virtually impossible inside waiting areas prior to boarding as there is not much space to accommodate everyone on every flight.
Both passengers and airlines will have to adhere to strict schedules to avoid unnecessary buildup of people in a certain space.
Making such a schedule is a logistical nightmare nonetheless but is necessary to curtail any risks of any virus spreading.
It may or may not take longer than the usual.
Fingers crossed that all these logistical planning regarding scheduling and foot traffic planning makes everything smoother and less time consuming.
We can all hope for the best.
Flight attendants might start wearing full-body personal protective gear over their uniforms (Bummer!)
Qatar Airways starting May 25 will start wearing full-body personal protective suits, apart from the normal goggles, gloves and masks.
This not only provides an added boost to enhance the already strict hygiene and safety regulations in place, but also offer passengers reassurance.
Other airlines may soon follow suit for both overall safety and customer reassurance.
Contactless airport terminals and plane cabins
Minimizing touchpoints is a priority. Touchpoints such as passports, boarding passes, bags, in-flight magazines, touchscreen entertainment systems will all be subject to some sort of modification.
We utilize on-line check-ins already, and this won’t be new, but contactless passport handling could be a dilemma. Facial recognition and biometric immigration procedures might be improved for better accuracy and efficiency to meet the requirements of being fully contactless.
Passengers will self-scan their boarding passes at the gate.
We may have to say goodbye to touchscreen monitors for in-flight entertainment too.
We might have to use our own devices for in-flight entertainment so expect charging ports and power outlets to appear somewhere in our seats.
No more in-flight magazines and safety cards in the seat pouches as well.
Potentially lost the best shopping experience in the world, the in-flight duty free. So sad.
What about meals? And coffee?
No more hot in-flight meals and coffee
Many airlines are cutting food service entirely or switching to cold and prepackaged meals. Instead of getting cups of water refilled, passengers will get their own bottle at the beginning of every flight to decrease touchpoints.
Passengers may also have to buy their meals at touchless vending machines before boarding flights.
Want to have your cup of water refilled? Won’t get the chance anymore. We may have to purchase bottled water pre-flight too.
Overall, this is not as bad as it seems. In-flight meals are not the best meals you can have anyway. And the coffee is nothing special. It’s just having a hot cup of coffee in a long haul flight… It will be missed.
Plexiglass barriers everywhere
These bulletproof-looking barriers will be the norm everywhere for counters, shops, eateries, and cafes, so expect customer-facing airport staff to have them installed on their booths too.
A certificate of immunity or a similar document might be required
This is not new to those who’ve traveled to far-flung fishing destinations. Malaria shots, hepatitis shots, and all other immunizations have always been a requirement when travelling to remote locations.
Once a vaccine is ready for public use, expect to be required to get vaccinated with a certificate for proof before being allowed to board a flight and enter another country.
Planes might have interior design overhauls
Transparent barriers in between seats to protect passengers from neighbors may be the new normal, as social distancing is impossible in the economy section.
Hats off to those who fly business class!
Some designers have proposed some futuristic solutions to keep flights full yet safe.
An example would be from Italian firm Avio Interiors Janus seat, reversing the middle seat in each row of three and includes transparent dividers that shield passengers from one another.
Air re-circulation in the cabin? An email we received from Qantas Group Chief Customer Officer states:
“The air conditioning systems of all Qantas and Jetstar aircraft are already fitted with hospital-grade HEPA filters, which remove 99.9% of all particles including viruses. The air inside the cabin is also refreshed every few minutes, ensuring the highest possible quality of cabin air.”
We must get to the airport even earlier than ever
Let’s all just get rid of the habit of rushing to the airport.
Although this time, we really have to get there early in order to account for all the necessary steps we’ll have to take, from baggage disinfection and drop-off, full-body sanitizing, biometric immigration and finally boarding, everything might take longer than what we are used to.
Some of the changes above may be more necessary than the others but all will still prove beneficial to everyone in the long run.
These preventive measures are practical not relating only to COVID-19 but to overall personal hygiene and health.
Cleanliness for everyone everywhere along with improvements in air travel procedures sounds good to me.
Every movement is planned and intended to minimize inter-personal contact, promoting a more efficient flow to the hectic circulatory system of airports around the world.
There will be growing pains for sure. We won’t get used to this overnight, but humans are a very adaptable species and we will surely get over any challenges these changes may bring.
Can’t wait to finally meet you guys here in Vanuatu to adventure again.
*Photo credits: https://www.pexels.com/