If you saw last week’s post, you’ll know that travel is certainly on the horizon once again. If you missed it, you can find it here. Today we want to talk a little bit about how air travel might change in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, and more importantly, how you can pack for success and keep yourself as safe as possible when traveling.
With the excitement of summer plans going ahead at the back of your mind, you may well be nervous about traveling in unknown territory. That’s perfectly normal – after all, Covid-19 has changed a lot over the past few months.
There’s no need to worry too much though, because you can take plenty of steps to avoid heading back home with Corona hot on your heels.
How will flying be affected?
When it comes to airports, the first and final destinations of our vacations, you can expect a lot of immediate changes. With both sanitation and hygiene at the forefront of everyone’s minds, it’s essential that airports tackle both on entry to the building. Where this will ultimately end up is anybody’s guess, but it wouldn’t be an over exaggeration to say that these new sanitation and hygiene rules will probably make waiting times a little longer, especially at the beginning.
Many people have said that Covid-19 will do for health and hygiene in air travel what 9/11 did for safety in air travel, that is, it’s being taken very seriously and we should expect strict hygiene rules to apply to everyone once travel is back in full swing. This is good news for everyone. It means that you’re more likely to stay safe on your travels, making you want to travel to your full potential again, which in turn helps tourist destinations and travel companies get back on their feet after the devastating impact of the pandemic.
A futuristic approach
Touch screen check in systems are already in place in many airports across the globe, but will be much more widely used from now on, with check-in kiosks possibly becoming a thing of the past as the situation continues to develop. In fact, there have already been reports of touch-less check-in kiosks being trialled in Abu Dhabi, which also scan the passenger’s initial health, as well as checking them in for their flights, and sending them on for further screening if they appear to have a high temperature or fever.
Going one step further, a Hong Kong airport have even started trialling a disinfection pod which is said to be able to kill viruses such as the Coronavirus within 40 seconds – yet another measure which, although time consuming, could soon become part of our routine travel preparations when moving through security.
There’s even calls for travelers baggage to be ‘sanitagged’, and to head through their own sanitation process before they’re allowed onto the plane for that extra protection, but who knows just yet exactly what measures will be used temporarily or for good to ensure safe passage to our destinations?
Once you and your baggage have been disinfected and cleared for take-off, that’s where the fun really starts right? Heading into the hustle and bustle of overpriced airport restaurants and shops is part of the experience, but that seems likely to change too, at least for the time being.
Many airports will shut down larger seating areas, so that fewer people can sit together in a group – ensuring that social distancing is still adhered to, even if just for now (because is social distancing something that we can keep to for a prolonged period of time? It doesn’t seem likely).
As for stepping foot on the plane, you can think again if you think that boarding will be as quick as usual. Many specialists believe that employing on-board janitors to ensure a pristine cabin once all passengers have disembarked may become the norm, pushing turnaround times back, yet ensuring a sterile environment for new passengers.
Furthermore, if you’ve not already had your temperature taken after check-in, you may find yourself checked before you’ve stepped onto the plane itself, and turned around at the gate if you appear to have a high temperature or fever.
Currently, airplanes deliver travelers to their destinations at half capacity, with social distancing taking effect on all domestic flights. That means that many middle seats are blocked out, so people aren’t sitting amongst each other. On-board meals have also ceased, with air stewards and stewardesses only offering up pre-packaged food and drink that can be opened and disposed of quickly and easily. Finally, some airliners have made face masks mandatory for travel, further helping to keep an eye on the unnecessary spread of the Coronavirus.
In place of the in-flight magazines that once sat alongside the handy and somewhat soothing presence of the sick bag, you’re more likely to find sanitizing wipes to keep your tray table virus free, and your hands clean – with the in-flight literature posing too much of a threat should others have touched it before you.
There’s certainly a lot to take in – but as with anything that seems slightly odd and uncomfortable at the beginning, we soon learn to go with the flow and accept these new terms, knowing that ultimately, they keep us as safe as possible and allow us to venture further from our homes than we have for months.
What can I pack to ensure safe travels?
One thing’s for certain: you can ensure your own safe passage by packing a few essentials into your carry-on luggage.
- Take your own masks, with a few spares
It’s mandatory to wear a mask both in the airport and on the plane, and depending on your journey time, you’ll certainly want to pack spares. You can make your own or buy them in bulk online or in stores.
Whilst no concrete evidence has come out to 100% support or oppose the benefits of masks, they certainly help to some extent, and capturing any coughs or sneezes into your own mask, or seeing your neighbor doing the same thing will certainly help keep your stress levels down, even if no one’s carrying the virus.
- Take a pair of gloves
It may seem a little OTT, but carrying your own gloves to keep your hands off dirty surfaces is the way to go. You don’t have to wear them all the time, but certainly when you come into contact with dirty surfaces that have been touched by others.
You can buy one use or reusable gloves easily, depending on your preference.
- Carry a bottle of hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes at all times
Parents of young children will most likely do this without thinking, but carrying your own bottle of hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes can help get you out of a few pickles when you can’t quite move, or need some quick refreshment, just always ensure that there’s alcohol in it for the ultimate benefits.
Are you ready to navigate the terminals of your local airport on your next big adventure?