There's been a lot of talk these days about what air travel will look like, post-COVID-19.
While some airlines have already resorted to restricting the sale of the middle seat in an attempt to maintain social distancing measures, others have introduced rigorous sanitation measures, some of which include mandatory temperature checks (Air Canada) and handing out personalized hygiene kits on board, as well as making it mandatory to wear a mask for the duration of the travel journey.
A new report by aviation marketing firm SimpliFlying, called 'The Rise of Sanitized Travel: The Day of the Life of an Airline Passenger,' has identified more than 70 ways that travel could potentially change forever due to new demands by passengers.
Here, we'll break down the passenger journey from start to finish, and list some of the biggest changes travellers could expect to see.
Prior to boarding a flight, things were simple: after verifying your baggage limit and selecting your seat, you'd download a copy of your boarding pass to your Apple Wallet, or print it at the kiosk as soon as you get to the airport.
Going forward, here's where things could start changing.
Similarly to if you were going to a destination that required you to have your Yellow Fever vaccine, SimpliFlying predicts that travellers will be required to upload an immunity passport confirming the presence of anti bodies for COVID-19.
The same goes for the arrival time.
Previously, it was advised that travellers should show up three hours prior to departure for an international flight, two hours for a U.S. flight, and one hour for a domestic flight.
Now, you may need four hours, regardless of where you're going, the company predicts.
If you thought the body scans, pat downs, and sniffer dogs were excessive, now, you'll only be allowed to enter the departures area once you've been subjected to a disinfection tunnel and thermal scanner.
All passengers will need to go through hygiene-enhanced security at least two hours prior to departure.
But there's one more thing—if you're deemed unfit to fly, you could be "offloaded" by crew, regardless of paying for your ticket and showing up on time.
Picking your seats
Window seat for the view? Aisle seat for a faster exit? It won't matter anymore, SimpliFlying suggests, because seat selection could be a thing of the past.
Prior to boarding the plane, all passengers will be asked to undergo an instant health assessment at the check-in counter. Some airlines will start administering blood tests as well, like Emirates, who has been conducting a 10-minute blood test on all passengers as of Apr. 15th. Then, seats will be assigned by agents.
Bags will go through fogging or a UV disinfection process to be “sanitagged." Each carry-on bag and each tray will be disinfected upon entering the X-ray machine through fogging, UV-ray disinfection, or other various techniques.
Getting on the plane
Remember the mounting anxiety that everyone seems to suddenly have at the gate? It doesn't matter if you're in Zone 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5, everybody huddles around the closest seat to the front of the line, eager to get on the plane and go. In the day and age of sanitized air travel, passengers will have to maintain social distancing in the waiting area, and will only be allowed to board when a notification alerts them on their phone.
The JetBridge, which is usually crowded, could be used as a sanitization tunnel, providing one last full-body sanitization prior to getting on the plane, SimpliFlying predicts.
Once on board, passengers should expect to notice a few drastic changes, starting with all cabin crew wearing masks and gloves. Just like double-checking to ensure all guests are buckled up with their seat backs up before take-off, cabin crew will make their rounds, ensuring all passengers have their masks on.
Food and beverage service will also be different, with touchless vending machines set up in the lounges, encouraging travellers to buy their own meals before taking off.
A hand sanitizer service will be offered every thirty minutes by crew (if only the drink cart came that often, right?).
Those flying in Business class or Premium Economy will no longer have the option to enjoy a gourmet meal. Instead, even those passengers will receive a pre-packaged, sealed meal to prevent the chances of any cross-contamination.
Sadly, those who enjoyed flipping through the in-flight magazines will no longer be able to do so.
SimpliFlying predicts that all print publications will disappear, in favour of personal devices like tablets and phones. Some airlines have already adopted this approach by uploading digital copies of their magazines into Issuu, a digital platform that houses thousands of magazines and e-books.
Now, if there's one good thing that might have happened due to COVID-19, it's the idea that all airlines might soon have an in-flight janitor in charge of cleaning those bathrooms every so often. Passengers might even expect to see a sanitary log, documenting the last time the facility was cleaned.
Just like checking in, the landing process will change, too.
After deplaning, bags will once again need to be sanitized prior to leaving the airport. Passengers will be subject to another temperature screening to flag any symptoms of COVID-19, like a fever. An immunity passport will also need to be verified prior to entering the country.
From start to finish, SimpliFlying anticipates at least 70 dramatic changes in air travel habits.
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