The future of flying is up in the air
Just as the 9/11 terror attacks increased airport security screenings, the coronavirus pandemic will likely add another layer of health-related screenings for the forseeable future. One example is temperature scanning of passengers and crew. “I expect you will see airlines support a health screening,” said travel industry analyst Henry Harteveldt. “But what they’ll say is, the passengers will pay for that.”
Home Self Screenings?
Some airlines are asking passengers to screen themselves before traveling. Passengers must certify that no one in their home has exhibited COVID-19 symptoms in the last 14 days. They must also check their temperature before heading to the airport and not travel if they have a fever.
Masks for Everyone
Nearly every major carrier now requires passengers and crew to wear face coverings while on planes. Airport employees are also being asked to wear them.
Mid-air Social Distancing
The days of cramped economy sections are over - for now. Airlines are blocking off seats on planes to create distance between passengers. Some are blocking off entire rows and capping capacity at 50%. If a flight is full, some airlines are notifying passengers and allowing them to change their plans at no cost.
More Cleaning,but Fewer Flights
Several carriers have started electrostatic spraying of all aircraft before each departure. The process creates a disinfectant fog that cleans virtually every surface in the cabin. Carriers have also started wiping down planes at the end of each day. But all this cleaning takes time, which means longer turnaround times and fewer, more expensive flights.
First class won’t be first anymore. To ensure passengers don’t have to walk past each other down cramped aisles, Delta has started boarding with passengers from the back of the plane to the front.
Farewell, Airline Food
Multiple airlines have suspended food and beverage service to reduce interactions between passengers and crew. With revenues plummetting, it's also a way to cut costs. Flight attendants may be handing out hand sanitizer and masks to passengers instead.
The Rise of Private Jets?
More expensive commercial flights could drive people to explore semi-private options. Those flights tend to have fewer passengers, which could attract people for health and safety reasons. Early in the outbreak, semi-private airlines JSX said it saw a 20% boost in new bookings. Experts also expect these companies to bounce back sooner than commercial airlines.