The coronavirus pandemic has ravaged the global economy with the travel and tourism industries some of the most affected sectors. Industry experts are indicating that the travel industry will definitely rebound but would most likely only resume to it’s peak levels sometime next year. And that is not yet even taking into account the possibility of a second wave of Covid-19 even when the rate of infection starts going down.
So for passengers like our Singapore Travel Blog, we will have to take it that the current state of travel bans and restrictions will be a new reality for most of us at least in the near future, despite both airlines and governments (travel and tourism usually accounts for a huge part of GDP, hence governments around the world are also looking to open up tourism as soon as it’s safely possible to do so) rushing to get travelling and tourism back to normalcy. We have to understand and accept that living with Covid 19 will be a new norm and some of the changes made during this period will not soon be going away. Here are some examples of things that would be here to stay.
Passengers have to contend with the new norm of wearing masks
New healthy policy changes to the travel industry would definitely be a huge topic post COVID-19, but interestingly these safety protocols have not been defined yet. But the bottom bare minimum of donning “Face masks” at workplace and airplanes would most likely now be part of a standard travel practice.
The recommended measure of curbing the spread of coronavirus by using face masks in public spaces should most likely apply to times when we are on board the plane as well.
According to the International Air Transport Association, face masks should be mandatory for both passengers and also airline crew.
A likely scenario moving forward is that travellers will be forced to put on face masks and even gloves when they are on board a plane. For instance, passengers travelling on Emirates from Dubai to Tunisia were recently required to put on gloves and face masks and they had to meet public health officers who had to test them before they could travel. Passengers will have to be in gloves and masks from the moment they check-in at the airport until they disembark from the plane.
Increase in restriction on cabin bags
Covid 19 has been said to be able to linger on surfaces hence the increase in disinfection of public areas throughout. If we apply that restriction to the traveling world, this could mean that Passenger luggages will be identified by Artificial Intelligence systems and further examined using UV disinfection, CT scanning, or fogging to avoid coming into contact with passenger belongings by airport security.
Similarly going forward, there will be a limit on what passengers can carry into the cabin. For example, Emirates is limiting passengers to carry only purses, baby items, laptops, and briefcases. Therefore passengers have to contend with no carry-on luggage into the cabin and unfortunately, airlines could do away with in-flight magazines which could potentially host viruses as well.
Passengers expected to pay high fares
Because of social distancing rules, carriers could block centre seats and this is likely to cut on the capacity of the plane. As a result, the airlines will try to squeeze more money from the remaining passengers by hiking fares to cover for the blocked seats. With the implementation of social distancing rules, passengers will find it hard to get the few seats available and that could drive fares up the roof. Low cost carriers which used to charge for additional leg room might just have to charge everyone that same “premium” moving forward with the additional “space” of that empty seat.
Other reasons that could substantiate the need to increase fares include the mandatory laws that require airline seats to be constantly sanitised, airline staff will also need to be retrained etc.
However, before all these laws start kicking in place in the near future, it is interesting to note that at least for now, passengers are paying low fares as airlines scramble for the handful of entrepreneurs and businessman who have to travel regardless. Recently Comedy Work’s Thomas Nicchi bought round trip tickets for his travel between Las Vegas and Newark. He paid $20.22 for a round trip which is just 5% of the normal fares of between $300 and $400. But despite the current cheap fares, for the rest of us travel bloggers and photographers, I do still recommend staying home and staying safe whilst using this time to save up so we can prepare ourselves for the inevitable price hike when travel opens up again.