Many aspects of life will likely never be the same. But here's what experts think travelling will be like because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Social distancing in the sky
The gap on social distancing won't be closed once we get the proverbial all-clear, aviation expert Henry Harteveldt of Atmosphere Research Group told travel & Leisure. "Public health officials will still encourage social distancing and that airline might continue blocking middle seats or limiting the number of people in premium cabins," he says. You can also expect measures to be put in place for more space between passengers in line at check-in, at security and to board planes.
Proving your (good) health before flying
Emirates Airlines has begun administering COVID-19 blood tests on potential passengers before they're allowed to board planes (results take 10 minutes), reported Reader’s Digest. While it may not always be blood tests, there is likely to be some kind of testing before boarding.
No more magazines
For fans of good travel writing, in-flight magazines were a reliable source of evocative storytelling and striking photography. Sadly, the novel coronavirus may cause those publications to go the way of the SkyMall catalogue, as a way of reducing the potential spread of bacteria and viruses."
Magazines and other print reading material are no longer being made available,” according to Stuff. “Food and beverages will still be served but “packaging and presentation will be modified to reduce contact during meal service and minimise [the] risk of interaction."
No more carry-on bags
Another already-implemented change on Emirates that we could expect to see carried forward, even after the curve on coronavirus has been more or less flattened globally, is that large carry-on suitcases may not be permitted onboard planes. Fear not, business travellers and parents of infants, carry-on items like laptops, handbags, briefcases and baby items should still be okay.
Flight attendants will likely continue to wear masks and gloves and limit onboard service to reduce interactions with passengers. All airline passengers Southwest, Alaska Airlines, American, Delta, United, Frontier and JetBlue are now required to wear masks when travelling. This will be the most visible way that coronavirus will change flying forever, or at least for the foreseeable future.
More fees to fly
With revenue plummeting, Dollar Flight Club expects that the airline industry as a whole will "ramp up additional fees to get back to profitability." That means higher fees for checked bags, as American Airlines recently implemented, higher fees to pick your own seat ahead of time, higher fees for premium seats in economy and elsewhere, and more.
A new fear of flying
After this coronavirus pandemic, getting sick while flying may overtake heavy turbulence and a plane crash as the primary fear travellers have while onboard. Cabin air is dry, which can allow for germs to spread. As far as the likelihood of catching COVID-19 on a flight, "you're at medium risk of infection if you're seated in the immediate radius of a sick person — up to two seats in every direction (about six feet)," Popular Science reports. "Anywhere beyond that is considered low to very low risk."
Most travellers were able to cancel flights penalty-free during this round of coronavirus but the future of air travel likely means a surge in passengers saying "yes" to travel insurance to further safeguard against a COVID-19 second wave or another, completely new pandemic. Experts believe pandemics will be covered under travel insurance but still read the fine print before purchasing, said travel blogger The Points Guy.
Don't call it a comeback of travel agents
Because the legwork for booking flights and additional travel plans after the pandemic will likely be more exhausting than ever, travel agents, who never faded away completely, could see a true renaissance. A trusted travel agent, a professional with years of booking experience and armed with detailed knowledge of future restrictions, lingering travel bans, and cancellation policies for hotel properties, cruises, and of course flights, may become in-demand again.
Have something to add to the story? Share it in the comments below.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ