How COVID-19 will change the way you travel

covid travel 1

COVID -19 is like the monster that engulfed the entire world in its pandemic circle too fast. Most countries did not have time to even prepare for the basics, leave aside eventualities.

Besides targeting people’s health this pandemic has also devastated businesses around the globe leading to unprecedented job losses, closures of establishments and doom as far as economy goes – worst since the Great Depression of 1930s.

Every component of the Travel and Tourism industry, including air, rail,  ground transport  and hotels & restaurants are the most severely hit sectors globally, as the outbreak continues to take its toll.

What is now important is to try to plan ahead of the curve , to re-imagine and re-shape the new reality of travel.

covid travel 3

Social distancing – the new norm?

After this contagion has been contained, international travel may not be a top priority for the majority of the global population, partly out of fear (until a vaccine is found), and partly due to the collapse of the economy.

Airlines and airports will have to work together in tandem to bring back customer confidence, and to support a new way of travelling defined by social distancing and increased sanitization.

Although compulsory, this could be particularly challenging for smaller airports which tend to have large crowds of people due to relatively small spaces.

Managing large queues in typically congested areas such as check-in halls and security/immigration checkpoints poses an additional challenge.

Queue management will have to be enforced strictly which could ‘up your time taken door to door’ with longer pre check in times and longer wait at security and immigration.

Of course technology will have to take a leap forward and enable airports and airlines overcome the hurdles of this new reality; besides a lot of self discipline amongst travellers.

covid 4

Automation will become paramount

All elements of the industry will have to make swift progress to re-imagine, re-shape and re-invent travel.

A range of contactless, self-service technologies to screen the vital signs of passengers, and baggage drops will have to be implemented by majority of airports. And for this the demand for automation, robotics and biometrics, will only become stronger.

The implementation of biometric E-gates may somewhat cut queuing times in the future but getting a number of airports e-enabled could be a mammoth task as of now.

With a lot of people unlikely to be wanting to touch surfaces and interact with agents as little as possible, automating as many passenger processes as possible will be crucial.

Maybe scanners on the lines of CCTV and surveillance platforms could be adapted to spot passengers who are indicating potential illness symptoms.

And of course carrying a certificate of immunity along with other travel documents will become mandatory.

To take things really out of hand, so to speak, passengers may turn to using their own devices at every touch point – right from checking in and navigating through the terminal, to controlling In flight entertainment  creating a real opportunity for airlines to promote relevant ancillary services though their mobile apps.

covid travel 2

Reconsider flight schedules

Most airlines especially those who have quick turnarounds between flights will have to look at rescheduling their time table to ensure thorough sanitizing of the aircraft while on the ground/in transit.

Cabin decontamination will have to be given centre stage to reassure passengers and crew that the cabins are sanitized and healthy.

However, reduced turnaround time has always been a weapon for airlines to cut costs, and also to keep airports profitable, so this would certainly pose a big challenge to the industry.

Also in the immediate future airlines will also have to consider using “social distancing” within the aircraft. The “seat separating” approach in which every second seat in the aircraft would have to be left unoccupied.

This would present another financial blow to airlines. But looking at a different point of view here, giving passengers a vacant space could also provide a sort of “a new premium travel experience” since passengers are guaranteed of having an empty seat next to them.

Although this could have a positive passenger experience so to speak, will the airlines charge more in such case? …. and more importantly will the passengers be willing to pay more.

If industry veterans are to be believed it will take a year to 18 months to reach anywhere near pre-crisis traffic levels, and the industry may not record pre-COVID-19 traffic volumes again before the end of 2021.

But at the same time, it is important to remember that while this crisis has put immediate growth ambitions on hold; all stakeholders should use the real opportunity for meaningful innovation and transformation to be accelerated.

Ultimately, airports and airlines must take action now to help secure consumer confidence and ensure they are well placed when the demand for air travel inevitably returns; and also be future-ready!

ny9

 

 

-Madhavi

 

 

OS:FTE
OP: AirlineTrends;TravelDaily; GoogleNews

Lean on to the good stuff & Look at the bright side.

covid

Foreseers and Scientists have been cautioning us for decades about how abusing the planet will affect us. People from Australia to California, Puerto Rico, and everywhere that flood and fire has broken out, have learned how the climate change will eventually lead to doomsday.  They warned us that planets do get sick too over a few decades, not a few weeks –although slightly slower than populations do.

And, I think, now covid-19 is a reminder that although we seem to think we have a great deal of control over most things that thought literally just flies out of the window, when you realize that you don’t actually. Things can go very, very wrong, and very, very quickly.

Nobody expected the novel Corona virus to flare up this way. What started off in a “wet market” in Wuhan, is killing many people, and shutting millions more inside, with fear as their main companion.

The main thing about a pandemic like this is that it doesn’t discriminate. Whoever you are, wherever you live, you’re vulnerable. While some of us may fare better because of our age or health, the germs themselves are impartial. This means, we are all in the same boat, for better or worse.

And so is the universality of suffering. The virus is an extraordinary event, and the horror it unleashes is extraordinary, too. But suffering is anything but extraordinary. All of us are hostages to forces over which we have no control.

This is not our first test as a species and it won’t be our last. A pandemic like this simply forces us to think about our responsibilities to the people around us. The simplest and probably the most important thing you can do to control the spread of this virus is to take precautions like social distancing. That’s the only way to flatten the epidemic curve, and by doing so will literally save lives.

The cost of this pandemic will be not just financial. What comes next is unclear. And the pain will not be distributed equally. Many people will lose income due to work stoppages or potential lockdowns.

Kids from low-income families will miss meals if schools are cancelled; parents  will miss work if they have to stay home to take care of them; Students in universities are already having nightmares about their future; If companies start laying off workers or give pay cuts the economics of running a household  will become burdensome to so many families.

And the list goes on and on.

But let us not buy into the hysteria of a virus fear. Let us stay strong. We live on a planet where viruses and bacteria are everywhere. Let’s face it fearlessly.

And if we’re fated to go through this passage, we may as well learn something from it.

We are being reminded to keeping loved ones close and that our health is the ultimate abundance. And even though we may feel alone we are actually together in this.

We are being reminded that it is better to live a life with minimum needs and not burden ourselves, our homes, our countries and more importantly our planet, with any more than is absolutely necessary for our survival.

It is teaching us that our villages, towns, cities need not be over-populated, over constructed and over burdened.

It is teaching us to respect the food chain in our ecosystem.

Maybe it is the year of truth, a year of change, a year of the new world. Maybe our planet and the entire human race is going through evolution and changes at the energy levels.

Maybe this disaster is giving us an opportunity to heal and rebuild the planet itself from scratch.

Let us heal our own karma, by putting aside greed, and only thinking of one self. Let us focus on the wellness and well being of each individual, each plant, each species, and each life-form on this planet.

Let us raise our positive vibes together. Let our energy, our vision, our words, and our thoughts, shape how we want our tomorrow to be.

This might also be the moment when we decide to fully embrace the idea that what happens elsewhere matters that there’s no real way to shut out the rest of the planet. That’s true for the virus, which seems to have seeped through most of the world’s borders in a matter of days.

In order for substantive progress to take place humanity needs to operate from a point of solidarity, empathy, equity, and moral clarity.

And also, what we need to understand is the meaning of the Native American proverb, “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”

So let’s take care of each other, our planet and its resources and understand that each sunrise offers us a wonderful new opportunity to make the world a better place for you and me.

-Madhavi

 

 

OS:The Guardian