By travellingpeople 14/05/2020
By every measure, the coronavirus pandemic has decimated the travel industry.
The images of a world shut down are surreal. With planes parked in desert airports in the middle of Alice Springs to streets of cities usually alive and busy being dead quiet something must give.
It is time to dust ourselves off and get back to it as regions and countries will soon begin to open up, but there will be no question that how we think about and approach travel will be different, at least for the short term.
There are some interesting questions that are starting to come up more and more and I wanted to put a few of them down and give my opinion.
How will flying change?
This is an interesting question as it is not very straight forward, and I think the possibilities are endless. I think there will be a new normal for travel for the short and medium-term and airlines will have to think about things like social distancing on planes. We are seeing different solutions such has not having anyone in the middle seat of economy rows but at what cost? I think if airlines have to block off 20 – 25% of their sets to allow for social distancing then they surely can’t be offering cheap tickets as they need to recoup funds for these lost seats along with the losses caused by Covid-19. So, I think you may see seating more spaced out, but I think there will be an increase in airfares.
Will there be health screening?
Surely this is inevitable, and the technology is interesting around this. At the very beginning of this Pandemic, I flew to Singapore and Bangkok and the difference was kind of alarming. In Australia there were no health screenings at all, in Singapore they had a station set up that was able to scan people as they walked through a set of posts with cameras/thermometers on top. They were able to scan large numbers of people without stopping them. In Bangkok, everyone was scanned with a laser thermometer but this caused a bit of a line-up. I think crowding and lining up increases risk, so many airports will have to take on Singapore’s approach as it seemed the most logical and efficient. I also wouldn’t be surprised if you had to get a Doctors clearance and even if there were something similar to a health passport or a health record linked to your passport.
What about cruising?
There is no doubt cruising is one of the hardest-hit sectors of the travel industry and halting all cruises for some time. I think the challenge for cruise lines will be reducing the perceived risk of infection spread on cruise ships. So, there is a chance that cruising will be the area where great deals can be had for those willing to cruise. Cruising is an interesting part of the travel industry as it is the one sector that has its true fanatics with their favourite ships, cruise lines and some people who cruise on the same ship multiple times even have a favourite cabin. I believe it will recover in time.
Cruise companies will have to enhance health and safety measures. Genting Cruise Lines, the Hong Kong-based company that owns Crystal Cruises and several other lines, has already issued new standards, including banning self-service buffets, requiring temperature checks at embarkation and disembarkation, twice-daily temperature checks for crew members, and masks for housekeepers and food servers. It will also require a doctor’s note for passengers 70 and over, indicating they are fit to travel.
Where will people travel?
I think most of us will just be happy going somewhere further than the Supermarket.
Firstly we will be able to do regional travel within our own states followed by interstate travel by July, I think. Australia is in an interesting position with our neighbouring countries where we may be able to set up a bubble that may allow travel between Australia and New Zealand and even some pacific island nations such as Vanuatu, Fiji, Tahiti, Tonga, Samoa, Cook Islands and more.
From there it will open up to Asia and the rest of the world, but it will need to be case by case based on the status of the virus in each country as we can’t afford to have it spread wildly again.
What do you think? Do you have any questions in relation to travel post-COVID-19?
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Image courtesy of Steve Strike (Strikey)