Will we ever see the world the same way again? Will we ever chat with our airplane seatmate without having to worry about contacting a virus? Whatever we know about travel, let’s forget about it. When the industry opens again, it won’t look the same way anymore. Today, the industry is coming up with ways to accommodate people in flights. A few months ago, the travel industry had seen an exciting and unprecedented boom since the post-war years. This was ended by the COVID-19 pandemic that threatens lives and economies.
If you have interesting souvenirs from your visit to Phoenix or knick-knacks from your other travels, hold on to those now. Those might be the last few souvenirs you’re going to get for some time. Airline companies have slashed their seating capacity by more than 70% since January, and the dark days of the recession are on the horizon for the industry.
Experts say that the recovery period will take from two to three years. It’s going to be a sluggish recovery, too, because no known vaccine has been developed yet against the coronavirus. But during those long years of recovery, what will happen to what was once a decades-long aviation boom?
There will be a stark difference in the cabin. Premium seats are more likely to receive more upgrades because airlines will be charging more for them. This means that the economy class will suffer because of cramped spaces and fewer amenities. Economy-class passengers will also have to give up certain perks. The airlines will now charge them for baggage check-in, legroom, and meals.
The middle seat may need to be vacated. Airlines will only fill up the aisle and window seats. This means a loss in revenue for the airlines, but it also means that passengers will be asked to shoulder the loss in profit.
Airlines are preparing for flights that will not have in-flight meals except perhaps for first-class and business-class passengers. Some passengers may be asked to bring their own food to lessen the person-to-person contact. Do you still remember that wine you’re so fond of? There might be no flight attendant to bring a glass to you now.
And what will airlines do to make sure that passengers don’t have the dreaded coronavirus? While quarantine is almost impossible before the flight, passengers will be asked to take a rapid test for COVID-19. There will be no more rushing to your flights. You will have to be there on time if you want to take that flight. Some studies suggest that going to the airport two to three hours earlier than your flight will be enough time to get a test and wait for the results.
The travel industry is beginning the process of preparing for the new norm. As soon as the lockdown is lifted, the industry will face a grueling test of attracting passengers while ensuring physical distance. What will come off it remains to be seen, but people should be prepared for changes they have never seen before.