When the COVID-19 pandemic caused travel to come to a halt, many airlines and airports implemented new technologies and safety precautions to protect travelers’ health. Throughout the pandemic, many have speculated when travel will return to normal; however, what we are seeing is the evolution of a “new normal.”
Looking at historic events that had a drastic impact on travel, it’s possible to identify many changes made as a result of those events that are still in place today. Shoe removal at checkpoints, liquid bans and various identification requirements all came from airport security and protocol enhancements in response to global events.
Many of the new technologies and health protocols being introduced as a result of COVID-19 are likely to become commonplace going forward. In a survey of aviation executives conducted by global consulting firm ICF, 92% of respondents said they expect to see continued enhanced aircraft hygiene requirements even after the pandemic.
For example, Delta Air Lines recently said they are focused on transforming expectations for cleanliness with their new commitment, which emphasizes a new standard of cleaning. Delta aircraft will be cleaned, sanitized and spot-checked before each flight based on an extensive checklist of commonly-touched areas to help achieve 100% sanitization on flights. The strategy was put into place earlier this year, and Delta plans to continue it indefinitely.
United Airlines has also introduced health assessments as part of their flight check-in process, as well as requiring face masks and integrating other health screenings before boarding.
According to a traveler sentiment survey conducted by Fox World Travel in July 2020, the number one concern of business travelers is the cleanliness and protocols of suppliers and airports. Over twice the number of respondents ranked this as important compared to the number who marked self-quarantine for 14 days after their return as important. Things can change, but these protocols will more than likely continue to be the norm for the future of travel, at least in the short-term.
When traveling, take into consideration how new protocols may affect your journey. Plan for extra time at airports and stay tuned for tips on navigating the “new normal.”
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