Building trust for travelers to feel comfortable moving through airports and flying again is a key factor for the travel industry at large. As such, it is crucial for airlines and airports to invest in robust PR campaigns to outline and clearly demonstrate the “new normal” of travelling - featuring the measures they are implementing to support the new way of travelling defined by social distancing and increased sanitization at airports and on planes.
Similarly, Tesco, the British supermarket chain is leading the PR effort for the food industry as evidenced in the below video.
Airlines will need to find alternative ways to increase traveler confidence for future bookings in addition to creating new travel incentives and measures to waive fees for flight changes. For example, incorporating the use of apps and technology to help with social distancing at airports such as the virtual queuing feature program Delta launched on its Fly Delta app earlier this year. This app notifies passengers when their flight is ready to board with a view to reducing queues and boarding times during this critical time.
The lay-out of check-in areas, curbside waiting areas, baggage terminals in airports will need to be reviewed in order to allow for social distancing especially during peak times of travel.
Additionally, the increasingly long lines for Customs and Immigration processing will have to be addressed. Biometric E-Gates will play a key role here to reduce these lines and increase the efficiency of processing to minimize human contact where possible. While current E-Gates still require scanning of the physical passport, future technology must allow for complete contactless screening. At the same time, these E-Gates could be tracking travelers’ temperature by means of thermal imaging cameras. (Many of these topics will be addressed at the FTE Global show in Las Vegas, 7-9 December,2020)
With regard to the inflight experience, airlines which can prove and showcase their cabin cleaning procedures, in order to reassure travelers of the hygiene and sanitation measures they have implemented, might have an advantage. While many airlines have focused on this topic in their social media communication, it seems that many passengers may be concerned about the short turnaround time between flights and consequently the ability of the cleaning crew to properly clean and sanitize the plane. Either flight schedules must change, or the ground crew has to be increased in order to accommodate the increased hygiene efforts. Either way, this may have an adverse effect on ticket prices.