Abilene Regional Airport

More than 70 areas of the passenger journey are set to change forever according to a report by aviation marketing consultancy, SimpliFlying.

Titled The Rise of Sanitised Travel, the report explores areas that are expected to either change or be introduced from scratch to restore confidence in flying after COVID-19.

While previously, during online check-in, passengers only had to upload their passport details, choose seats and pay for options services like checked bags, in the age of ‘sanitised travel’ they will be required to upload an immunity passport confirming the presence of antibodies for COVID-19.

Only those travelling will be allowed to enter the airport, at least four hours prior to departure. And before they are allowed in the departure area, passengers will either need to show their immunity passport or go through a disinfection tunnel and thermal scanners. Only if they are deemed ‘fit to fly’ will they be allowed in.

Touchless check-in airport terminals are also things that passengers can expect to see. Those travelling will be given a code to scan or will use voice commands when checking in. Passengers will be handed gloves and masks to wear throughout their journey and once onboard the aircraft seatback pockets will be left empty and disinfectant wipes are likely to become part of the in-flight service.

When checking in bags, passengers can expect them to be ‘sanitagged’ after going through fogging, electrostatic or UV-disinfection. And while most passengers travelling to or around the US will be familiar with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the Transportation Health Authority (THA) is also set to become commonplace.

Once they’ve arrived at their destination passengers can expect their bags to be sanitised before being placed on the belt. They might also be required to pass through thermal scanners before exiting the airport and immigration officers will be wearing gloves and masks.

Referencing how the previous 9/11 crisis changed travel completely with increased security checks and longer check-in times, Shashank Nigam, CEO SimpliFlying commented: “The impact of COVID-19 on air travel will be even more far-reaching when it comes to sanitation and cleanliness…

“Just like when security checks were introduced, there will be distinct audiences airlines will need to convince: Authorities and the travelling public.”

He added that, “In addition, government authorities and airport operators will want to know that airlines adhere to a certain standard of cleanliness and hygiene before offering up landing slots.”

Nigam also highlighted a particular challenge that low-fare airlines will face in the post COVID-19 landscape. “Enhanced cleaning regimes could spell the end of the 30-minute turnaround, upon which many low-cost carriers base much of their business model.”

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