The changing face of air travel in COVID-19 times
“What changes will COVID-19 bring next?”, the words on everyone’s lips – as if it has become a guessing game to ‘what’ will be reset to a new normal. One amongst others, and unquestionably one of the industries that will have extensive transformations, is commercial aviation. This industry is already gearing up for complete remodelling of operations. We curated a list of a few aviation trends and health and safety measures that will most likely be deployed in the post-COVID-19 world:
Airport queues – the bane of travellers everywhere! Well, no need to fret, this might be a thing of the past. Airports, across the globe, are gearing up and collaborating with innovative app developers to create new virtual queues. One of the best prevention measures, to avoid COVID-19 infection, is social distancing. This solution not only achieves social distancing but also provides a more streamline experience for customers. How does it work?
- Virtual queuing works with a mobile app that you can install on your smartphone. A ticket with a designated number is assigned to each customer. This queue management system helps to avoid interacting with the kiosks, as customers will virtually keep track of their position in the queue. An SMS or notification will pop-up as soon as it’s your turn.
- You can now wait in a safer environment, like your car, and avoid crowds, and in effects, customer flow is optimized.
We are surely looking forward to fewer queues, more streamlined experience at airports, and to instead utilize the queuing-time to indulge in a good cup of coffee.
Digital Health Passports
The focus has shifted from assisting the masses to assessing each individual passenger’s health. The idea is to create a digital health passport. It will become compulsory for travellers to share personal data such as their age, travel history and underlying health conditions to determine each individual’s risk profile. The system will work with a QR code that is either green, yellow or red. Green means that the traveller is safe, free of the virus and is not of risk. Yellow symbolizing the need for reassessment to determine if they are safe or not to travel. Red means that the passenger is a risk, and therefore cannot proceed with the flight. The system will determine, beforehand, if you are safe for travelling, and biometrical scanners will consolidate the information to give the go-ahead.
“Sanitagging” and Sanitising
“Sanitagging” is a new term, amongst many, developed in the world of COVID-19. What does this Coronavirus travel term mean? Well, “sanitagging” at the airport— is the process of sanitising bags and giving them a tag once the process is complete. This will be done by “fogging, electrostatic or UV-disinfection.” Another new sanitising measure, that will most likely be implemented in airport terminals, are thermal scanners and disinfection tunnels – which travellers might have to pass through before boarding the plane. Finally, in-flight janitors and deep cleaning after every flight might too become the new norm. While most of this sounds positive (who doesn’t want janitors keeping the plane sparkling clean), this will definitely also bring with it, its own difficulties.
Say goodbye to the armrest hog and sitting shoulder-to-shoulder next to your fellow passengers… Various airlines are already implementing the ‘fewer passengers’ or ‘leaving the middle seat empty’ policy in order for travellers to be able to keep a safe distance in the plane’s cabin. This is not the only touchless change; in airport terminals, more touchless options will come into play including – contactless fingerprint, as well as iris and face recognition. In a recent media briefing, aeroplane designers touched on further developments that are in their initial phase, including personal protective equipment (PPE) shields for individual seats.
One thing is clear from all this: things are going to change, and probably quite a bit. What remains to be seen is just how much, and for how long. As we shift from the cloud (the virtual world of Skype) into the clouds (via plane), the question is: what will the ‘touchpoints’ along that journey look like? That being said, we can say with certainty, travelling will happen once again, as will holidays with family and friends.