How will Coronavirus forever change airlines and the way we fly? From air fares to destinations to cabin layouts, things may look very different once we start travelling again.
At The Airport
Expect longer than normal processing times at the airport. You will see sneeze guards set up at key transaction points, including check-in counters and gate podiums.
Thermal scanners and COVID-19 tests may be needed to ensure passengers are healthy enough to fly.
Airlines are reducing touch points by temporarily shutting down self-service kiosks in most locations; customers will be encouraged to use mobile check-in. Some airport are already adapting face recognition scanners. All of these measures are aimed at reducing physical touch points.
Expect Social distancing to be in place regarding seating arrangements, packaged snacks and wrapped food.
Boarding will be from back to front by rows, boarding fewer passengers at one time; this is to allow more distance during the boarding process. It will space out customers to minimise crowding in the gate area and on the jet bridge.
The COVID-19 pandemic has quickly caused behavioural changes, when sharing public communal spaces.
Airlines are limiting seat selection in all cabins, so customers will not be able to select seats next to each other or the middle seats.
Future passengers will be placing even greater value than ever before on personal space, from a health and safety standpoint. Airlines will need to adapt their cabins, in order to tempt customers back and reassure them that their health is being protected whilst on board. Reduced passenger loads will free-up opportunities to adapt existing cabins, to address this new normal in the short to medium term.
Some new concepts of seating with minimum touch interaction are currently on the drawing board.
The Isolate kit from FactoryDesign below transforms the middle seat into a reassuring screen, to provide maximum personal space and separation for adjacent passengers. The whole feature is supported by the armrests and is securely belted into position.
Flight attendants will hand out sanitising wipes, for passenger to wipe down the seat handle or the tray table.
Food and drinks will be served in pre-packed bags to avoid touch. There may no longer be a trolley service for food/drinks.
United are currently serving a snackbox in domestic First Class, instead of by tray.
Passengers arriving may have to go thru sanitising tunnels, thermal scanners and COVID-19 tests, before being allowed to clear immigration and customs; checked bags may also have to be sanitised. Expect delays when arriving into your destination on International travel.
Dollar Flight Club analysis shows that we may see airfares decreasing by 35% through 2021, as there is more supply than demand. However long term prices will rise by over 27%, due to demand outstripping supply, as airlines will be slower in adding capacity and are retiring large airplanes such as the B747 and the A380.
Have you encountered something different in your recent travels? Please let me know what you think the future of air travel will be like?