Ever since my retirement a few years ago, I have taken on many travelling adventures. Last year, I counted five major trips, two of them on cruises. All of this life styles came to an abrupt halt this year when the corona-virus pandemic arrived.
Starting in January, we spent countless hours to cancel airline tickets and secure deferment for cruises. Anxiety set in initially when we were not sure if we can get refunds on airline tickets while the booked dates were getting close. That was followed by uncertainty over the allowed deferment period for the cruises. Eventually, everything settled down when the pandemic was proclaimed by the World Health Organization (WHO).
With the lock-down of the city upon us, we ended up with a lot of time on our hands. That caused our minds to work overtime and wonder what will happen if and when we can travel again – certainly not in the near future! I thought about all kinds of possibilities, of how people may have to be cleared for entry from one country to another and even between provinces in the same country. I imagined that there will be additional routines and delayed before one can walk through the terminal of their destination.
This week, I watched a video clip presented to me by a relative. I realized immediately that it is close to what I envisioned earlier except that it is more complicated and time consuming. Let us examine the possibilities of extra activities involved with future air travel, shall we?
Travelling by air post COVID-19 will not be as fun as it was before. We all have to get to the airport earlier than the current routine as we have to prove that we are healthy in order to qualify for a seat on the plane. For that, we may have to go through temperature checks, a full thermal scan, and even a COVID-19 tested with a test kit before we are allowed to board a plane. These activities will all taken up additional time to complete before we can approach the boarding gates.
At the check-in counters, we will see sneeze guards (screens) while self-serving kiosks will disappear in an effort to reduce touch points so checking in at home will become mandatory. Disinfection technologies will be prominent and disinfection chambers will be used to perform whole body disinfection in 40 seconds or less.
Sterilizing robots will be rolling around autonomously to disinfect 99.99% of air and object surfaces in just ten minutes.
Social distancing will have to be practised, including the line-up to security check points. If you visit the airport lounge, expect packaged and wrapped food instead of the customary buffet. Boarding the plane will be done without contact, meaning the scanning of QR code and use of face recognition machines. There will be no attendants there to look at your boarding pass.
The Boarding sequence will have to be changed. The Economy class passengers may have the priority boarding to avoid contact with the business class passengers as we do today. Expect the carry-on and check-in luggage to be sanitized before they can get onto the plane. Masks may be distributed to those passengers who do not wear one. Attendance wearing gloves and masks will sanitizer passengers' hands as necessary. Sanitizing wipes will be handed out for passengers to wipe their own seat handle and tray table.
In-flight drinks will come in a bottle instead of fluids poured into cups. For first class passengers, food will no longer come in different trays and cutlery but a single package. Snack packages will be handed out throughout all classes on board with the aim to eliminate use of trays.
Remember the need for social distancing? Today, the airlines are already blocking off the middle seats to provide more confidence for travellers. When travelling pick up again, this practice will cut into the profit for many small airlines fighting for survival. New conceptual designs are now emerging – one involved the construction of a plastic shield around the passenger's head while another one put the centre seat in a reversed position to ensure maximum isolation of passengers. Yet another design use the middle seat to set up a partition to separate the passengers on both sides of it.
Upon arrival, the whole process for boarding gets repeated. The health checks and the sanitizing get done again before they start the custom checks of your travel documents.
So the big question was asked – will air travelling be cheaper when the corona-virus crisis is over? Experts are saying that for the period ending December 2021, up to 35% discounts are possible. After that, prices will be up about a 27% increase over 2019 prices.
我们无法预测未来旅行将会啥样，因此我们只能指望专家们的说法，因为他们手上有数据对未来进行预测。 我是否相信以上所说的一切？ 不全部，但上面的一半是我自己想出来的。 不要等待多久，明年我们就会看到结果。 也许你我可能见到想不到的惊喜。
We don't have a crystal ball to tell us about the future of air-travelling so we can only go by predictions from experts based on known facts and projections. Do I believe in all of the above? No, not all of them but at least more than half of these were envisioned by myself already. We just have to wait for the reality to set in next year. There may be other unsuspecting surprises as yet to be discovered and implemented.
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