What Travel Would Be Like in the New Normal
Airlines have since innovated to cope with the new normal—here’s what we’ve been seeing so far
Now that the country's slowly easing up on its quarantine guidelines, you may be wondering when you can fly again. There's that critical business trip you've been postponing, or a vacation you can't decide to cancel or push through with. Whatever the reason may be, there's no denying we'll need airlines back in full swing soon to cater to our transportation needs.
Right now, you can treat news updates as tentative while the government and health advisers figure out the best way to contain COVID-19. Philippine Airlines has already opened local and domestic travel destinations (Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Honolulu, Toronto, Vancouver, Guam, London, Sydney, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Taipei, Dubai, and more. Across the world, "40% of all destinations worldwide have now eased restrictive measures," while many have restarted international tourism.
The questions now are, how safe is it to fly? And how will this pandemic change the course of the airline industry's history? How will those changes affect us?
You can assume adjustments to stay as flights enter the new normal. Many of these will be permanent, like how 9-11 changed the way airports handle security across the globe.
The number one issue the industry's tackling is safety. From assuring that there's no risk of contagion to confirming that opened borders are secure, airports and airlines have to win the public's trust if they need to create demand for flying again — which they don't expect to return to normal for a few years.
As early as now, expect these new standards in airports and aircraft carriers worldwide.
Officials will take temperature checks as soon as you step into the airport, and those over 37.5 degrees Celsius or 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit will not be allowed to enter.
You'll be required to wear your mask at all times for your safety, even during the flight, until airports and planes can apply more permanent social distancing measures.
Aviation authorities will also ask you to keep a 6-feet distance from others while standing in lines, seated in waiting areas, and even while in the plane itself. Some carriers leave middle chairs in economy class empty to comply with social distancing. However, this can make future flights expensive just to compensate for the loss.
Airlines will also further encourage passengers to rely on their mobile devices for checking-in and presenting tickets. This tech is something we all have to get used to so we can reduce human-to-human contact as much as possible.
Consider this as a new feature that'll be as important as your passport. Airport authorities will provide more details on what certifications will be accepted and how to get one.
More To Carry
Other than hygiene essentials you'll want ready in your hand carry, airlines are also encouraging passengers to pack their blankets, even cutleries (if you're not comfortable with disposable ones). To reduce contact, you should bring your headphones, eye mask, and toiletries for long-haul flights.
Allot more time when you arrive at the airport for screening while COVID-19 continues to be a looming issue. Your destination will most likely require you to answer a health questionnaire, undergo COVID-19 testing, inspect your items for goods you declared, and hold you in a temporary facility or have you stay at a government-designated quarantine hotel. For travel rules and requirements per country, you can check Philippine Airlines' updates here.
Innovators are paving the way for the airline industry's future with far more efficient approaches to the above practices, warranting that promise of security we demand.
This is the race many airlines and airports will be willing to bet on as they find ways to bring more value to their services. Here's what the near-future of aviation will look like:
Just as experts train dogs to recognize substances, researchers in the UK are testing them to spot people with COVID-19, even to the point of finding out those with fever and those who are asymptomatic.
Whether you're traveling locally or internationally, you'll have to carry a 'health passport' with you. Your health data will be made accessible by scanning something like a booklet or a wearable, which is comparable to how officials can pull up your electronic travel information from electronically reading your passport.
'Touchless' Access Points
What can be automated and computer-assisted will be made to do so, from check-ins, payments, screening, boarding, to immigration. These technological advancements, albeit costly for machine installations, lessen human contact, and make operations efficient.
Modified Airplane Designs
Social distancing through keeping some seats empty isn't a sustainable approach for airlines. With every lost seat sale (planes operating below capacity) denting the very viability of flying, designers are finding out how to maintain the same number of seats and keep passengers safely apart. Ideas from installing barriers to rotating or angling chairs, the race is on for the most cost-efficient yet protective design modification for aircrafts.
With these ideas and advancements, the future of flying isn't as bleak as how we're seeing it right now. If anything, this pandemic is pushing innovations in many industries as we realize the cracks in systems. So if you wish to hold on to your ticket a little longer and take that necessary flight once the industry lifts cancellations, know that airports and airlines are doing what they can to make flying safe. Do your part too and be extra cautious in these precarious times.