You are probably not ready to get on a plane as yet, but are thinking about it. Like me, if you are feeling trapped at home for way too long, you are day dreaming of your next getaway. As soon as it is safe, you will get on an airplane and jet set to see your friends, family or just chill at the beach or one of the national parks.
The fact is, the entire process of traveling is going to change. It will be somewhat different that what we are use to. Airports and airlines are already publishing their new flight protocols. Although this may evolve in the coming weeks, here’s what I think will happen…
Airline Tickets are Going To Get Expensive
Say goodbye to all those crazy sweet airline deals you see on discount travel websites. Grab them while you still have the chance because airfares will go up eventually. Now, this is partly due to reduced load factor, meaning airplanes are not going to fill every single seat. Some are stating they will keep the middle seat empty. Others’ are charging passengers extra if you want to have no one sit next to you. Xi’an, China based Air Changan is selling up to 8 extra seats per passenger for social distancing. Secondly, there will be fewer flights and schedule reductions. This is because of capacity reductions. Most airlines will downsize after September once the Cares Act expires. Thirdly, airplanes will be disinfected and treated after each flight. Therefore, turnaround time for them will be longer and cost per flight, higher.
Travel Insurance Will Be Important
I have always traveled with insurance, whether through VolunteerCard (for Go Eat Give trips), or Allianz Travel. With the frequency of travel I do, it is inevitable that I may loose a bag, miss a flight, or need to visit a doctor when away from home. There are a few times I have had to file a claim and the insurance has more than paid for itself.
Going forwards, more travelers are going to recognize the importance of having travel insurance. You can purchase a per trip policy or have a yearly one in place. Make sure to also include coverage for “cancel for any reason” if you are worried about recovering your travel costs.
That being said, most airlines and tour operators are going to offer flexible cancellation and rebooking, so definitely check their policy before booking.
There Will be Longer Wait Times at The Airport
It is safe to assume you will need to arrive at the airport earlier to allow some time for health screening. There are going to be fewer lines with more distancing. Some high traffic airports say, give yourself 4 hours. Think of pre 9/11 when you could just walk into the airport and go to your gate directly. There was no security screening and people without boarding passes could see you board the plane. We adjusted to that change, didn’t we?
You Will Get Tested
UAE-based Emirates started rapid testing all their passengers for antibodies (not COVID-19) from Dubai in mid-April. Others are testing flight attendants and employees. Long term, if this is going to be blood tests, infrared tunnels, temperature monitoring, or a quick Covid-19 test, may depend on the airline. If you test positive, you will be denied boarding and would need to go back for self quarantining.
International boarders will require self declaration of where you have been in the last 14 days, if you show symptoms, who you have been in contact with, etc. Currently, many countries in Africa require you to show proof of vaccinations (such as Yellow Fever) before letting you in through, and this procedure may be adopted globally.
New Carry-On Recommendations
Starting May 4, most airlines will require you to wear a mask at the airport and on the flight at all times. Small children are exempt. Though wearing a mask is not a full proof way of protecting yourself, it helps ensure that your respiratory droplets don’t fall on surfaces and on other passengers. I have been wearing travel masks long before Covid-19!
Also, you should carry sanitizing wipes or gels onboard. New TSA requirement allow one liquid hand sanitizer up to 12oz per passenger. This will be screened separately at security checkpoint, so keep it in separate zip lock bag from your other liquids and gels. If you don’t have a mask or gels, some airlines will provide this to you for a small fee.
There is going to be some trial and error in the coming months, so make sure you stay calm and oblige with airport officials. Also, check the destination’s health guidelines ahead of boarding, so you can alter travel plans as needed.
Important Links to Keep Handy: