Hey My Dear Aviator,

Have you considered how flights will be after Covid? Your beloved Aviation industry is one that has definitely been affected by the pandemic and has changed it irrevocably. For this reason, there are many shifts and changes in the experience for passengers, in the operation, for crews and in aviation in general. When researching the way Covid has affected aviation in the aftermath of the pandemic, I found 6 major things that will change when you fly post Covid-19. Some shifts we will embrace and enjoy, but others make us wish the pandemic never happened.

change when flying post covid-19

1. More Stringent Hygiene Regulations on Board and at the Airport 👮🏼‍♀️

When you think about it, there are a number of areas in the airport that require physical contact from baggage check-in to security points. These areas will likely be completely redesigned to eliminate contact as much as possible and maintain social distance as well. In major airports, you may have observed self-drop offs for baggage, self-check-ins and self-scanning ID stations. This will be the future airport experience. One step further I could also imagine that there will be less security personnel due to more automation. We become more and more transparent through digitization. So, maybe one day those who hold a trustworthy record could possibly pass through security without getting checked. 

However, after the pandemic, I think the lines/queues will be longer, to enforce social distancing, and checkpoints could take significantly longer, as travellers will need to separate more of their carry-ons, so that bag searches are less necessary.

In my opinion, we will be required to wear PPE for some time due to the nature of airports and aeroplanes. Space for travellers is limited and the ICAO might implement this as an extra safety measure once countries get rid of the mask requirements. 

I am sincerely hoping that on board cleaning policies change tremendously. Who hasn’t taken a seat and found a dirty cushion, dirty tray tables and smeared window blinds? Airlines will take more care to present a clean impression of the cabin to their passengers and they will promote their disinfection process as a selling point.

I don’t believe that disembarking the plane by rows will have a future. However, I would favour a more speedy process, also for embarkation, through more boarding bridges. This would help to reduce contact with other passengers,

change when flying post covid-19

Outdated Business Class of Lufthansa

2. Updated Cabin Configuration 💺

We have been seeing a change in cabin configuration already over the past few years. First Class cabins have been decreasing, Business Class cabins have been improved and Premium Economy cabins have gotten bigger.  

Passengers demand more comfort, more seat separation and more space from fellow passengers. However the extra pricing for a Business Class is too much for most travellers. That’s why the Premium Economy is a great alternative in between both classes. You get more comfort and a better flight experience for a reasonable price. So, for extra safety and comfort, more and more passengers will book Premium Economy.

Airlines will also need to configure the layout of their cabins to address the increased share of leisure traffic. At the simplest level, lower numbers of business travellers may lead to smaller Business Class cabins. So the layout will shift to a bigger Premium Economy Cabin and/or development of Business Class seats more suitable for travelling as couples or groups.

change when flying post covid-19

In the future Business Class will be First Class with more comfort

change when flying post covid-19

Pay for everything model will be implemented for all booking classes

3. Everything, Everything and Everything will Cost Extra 💸

Thanks to low-cost airlines, the policy of “everything has to be paid as an extra” has been implemented in the aviation industry. Premium airlines have refused as long as possible to adapt to this model. But since they appear to have lost clients and could not keep up any longer with the pricing of other operators, passengers have had to start paying for extras. 

Even premium airlines like Lufthansa, do not offer any free drinks or snacks on their short-haul flight anymore. Taking this further, passengers will have to pay extra for EVERYTHING, whether it be luggage, carry-on baggage, priority boarding, catering onboard or seat reservations. This is already the case on most short and medium-haul flights. It will also be the future for long-haul flights to keep the ticket price low and make more revenue from any passengers. 

I do favour this trend because I think this way you can personally shape your flight experience. It will be more individual and fit your needs. Even in business class, I could imagine that you have to pre-order your meal and pay for it extra. Why not? So, less catering will be thrown away after the flight. 

BLOG: Why You Should NOT fly with TAP Business Class?

change when flying post covid-19
change when flying post covid-19

4. More Expensive Flight Tickets 🎫 

The aviation industry received state-provided aid, credit lines, and bond issuances, which collectively amassed more than $180 billion worth of debt in 2020. This figure is equivalent to more than half of total annual revenues that year. These costs will need to be recouped. Therefore, we’ll likely see ticket prices rise. To keep ticket prices low or at the same level, airlines may potentially calculate extras within their ticket price. E.g. to take hand-luggage on board. In my opinion, ticket prices need to be high so that they can pay fair loans, reduce the environmental footprint and safety standards can be at the highest level. 

change when flying post covid-19

5. More Hassle due to Certificates and Tests 📲

When travelling out of the country, a passport may not simply be sufficient anymore. We can experience this already. Despite an ID, you may need a vaccination certificate, a test and most of the time you need to register in the country where you are flying to. Additionally, you have to take care when flying via a third country, which may have totally different regulations. This can get quite confusing for travellers to know which documents they need for their journey. 

Digitalization will continue to transform the travel experience. Mobile apps will be used to store travellers’ vaccine certificates, COVID-19 test results and entry forms. Carriers will invest in the customer experience and IT automation – such as making check-in and boarding processes more seamless. Travellers will need to upload all documents before the flight and the system will check it and grant them access to check-in online. At the moment everything needs to be checked at the airport which causes long queues. 

change when flying post covid-19

6. More Leisure Destinations on the Flight Plans 🏝

Leisure trips will fuel the recovery of the industry, whereas business aviation travel will take longer to recover, and even then, it is estimated that it will only recover to approximately 80 percent of pre-pandemic levels by 2024. Remote work and other flexible working arrangements are likely to remain in some form post-pandemic and people will take fewer corporate trips.

This will cause more leisure destinations to be on the flight plans of airlines. We are likely to fly to vacation hotspots more directly. I am hoping that post-pandemic consequences will change a lot at Berlin Brandenburg airport. Let’s see if the disaster airport and other airports will soon offer more direct flights, not just going to major hubs.

change when flying post covid-19

Boeing B777 of SAUDIA

Conclusion 🛫

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. There seems to be some relief at the moment, but the process to recovery will still take several years. Multiple longer-running trends have been accelerated, such as digitization and the phasing out of less-efficient aircraft. Burdened by debt, many carriers have depleted their cash reserves. But the forecast is not without positivity and hope. Travel will become greener and more efficient, and we are all itching to travel again without restrictions.

I hope you enjoyed my blog post: “6 things that will change when you fly post Covid-19” with my outlook. Please do not forget to like and comment below telling me what else will change in the aviation industry. 

Happy and safe future landings!

Your PilotPatrick

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