It doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to picture what airports around the globe currently look like; desolate ghost towns, the shadow of their formerly bustling selves a mere memory in the face of a global pandemic. But as with all things, no matter how seemingly insurmountable, this too shall pass, and that means that a gradual return to international travel can and will occur in the coming months as social distancing protocols and regulations ease. So what will a resumption of travel activities look like post COVID-19? Let’s have a look.
Cheap Flights… At First
Expect airlines to offer outrageous price cuts and ticket deals once regular travel is deemed safe in order to encourage passengers to put their health fears aside. That said, airlines will also be forced to retain certain social distancing measures, which may entail leaving certain seats empty to reduce capacity, and this will ultimately lead to a gradual increase in airfare costs after the initial price cuts.
Route options and all day flights will almost certainly be reduced in favour of peak time travel and increased layovers. There will also be health screening at airports which may cause delays and longer queues when checking in and boarding. Such screening is already being instituted by Emirates at certain airports, and we’ll soon see other airlines following suit in order to promote passenger and staff safety.
Decreased interaction has been a major change in curbing the spread of the virus, and this trend will likely continue for the foreseeable future. While physical barriers have been a speedy fix to the problem of face to face interaction, expect further automation of check in processes, eliminating human contact and the risk of transmission. This will include biometric identification measures and digital baggage scanning.
The End of Budget Airlines
All airlines will be competing for seats which may see a closing of the price gap between luxury and economy airlines. The potentially reduced sales for cheaper airlines may result in their demise, after which the remaining highend tickets will likely see a revert to their usual prices with the budget competition effectively eliminated.
No More #Wanderlust
Younger travellers will likely not have the budget for luxury travel once the pandemic subsides. Heading into the age of social distancing, Millennials and Gen-Z were already facing high debt and low savings, so expect to see older generations dominating flight ticket sales.
Aside from the expected improvements to cabin hygiene and disinfection procedures, there will also be major reductions to the variety of inflight refreshments. Food will be fully packaged to avoid contact as well as reduce the costs associated with increased menu options. It will likely be a long time before we see a return to the range of options and luxuries we’re used to.
COVID-19 has certainly impacted all areas of our daily lives, and the effects of the virus will continue to be felt long after its general eradication. While I’m sure many of us are looking forward to being able to travel freely and safely, it’s important to remember that our actions as individuals are paramount to containing the spread of the virus. As always, stay safe and be kind to one another.
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