So what’s it like to be taking flight in the COVID-19 world?
The rules and regulations will vary from country to country and airline to airline but here is a summary of what you can expect.
AT THE AIRPORT
On arrival at the airport, you may be tested for temperature or be scanned by thermal imaging cameras.
Also, you may have a point-of-care serology test (POCTs) for COVID-19. However, the jury is out on the effectiveness of the tests.
The West Australian Health Department said that “the Doherty Institute studies confirm POCTs are of limited use for the diagnosis of acute COVID-19 infection as many infected patients have not yet developed sufficient antibodies to enable detection by these tests.”
Air New Zealand General Manager Customer Experience Nikki Goodman says the airline is “encouraging customers to check-in for their flight via the Air New Zealand app, but for those checking in at our larger airports, every second self-service kiosk will be operating to support social distancing. There will also be floor markers for queuing at our check-in counters, service desks, bag drops and departure gates, and we’ll be boarding and disembarking fewer customers at a time.”
Intending passengers will likely get an email from their airline on their day of travel outlining what to expect before they fly and while onboard.
Emirates says that the airline’s check-in and boarding formalities have been adapted with social distancing in mind. Protective barriers have been installed at each check-in desk to provide additional safety measures to our passengers and employees during any interaction. Gloves, masks and hand sanitisers have been made mandatory for all employees at the airport.
The airport would have been thoroughly cleaned and wiped down overnight to the highest WHO standards.
All shop staff will have PPE equipment and the social distancing will be enforced.
Self-service buffets in lounges will not be available.
Some airlines, at least initially, will be allocating seating to allow an empty seat between customers travelling alone but that can’t last as airline economics are based on the current configurations.
If airlines were forced to leave the seat next to them free airfares would have to rise 40 per cent.
Onboard cabin crew will have PPE and passengers will likely be asked to wear masks and gloves.
Most jet aircraft are fitted with hospital-grade air systems that filter out viruses and hand sanitisers will be available across the airport, kiosks, and service desks.
Onboard in-flight meal service will change, particularly for premium classes, with most food being delivered with minimal contact.
Emirates says that passengers are also required to wear their own masks when at the airport and on board the aircraft, and follow social distancing guidelines. .Emirates has also modified its inflight services for health and safety reasons.
Magazines and other print reading material will not be available, and while food and beverages will continue to be offered onboard, packaging and presentation will be modified to reduce contact during meal service and minimize the risk of interaction.
A big change is cabin baggage which is currently not accepted on Emirates flights. Carry-on items allowed in the cabin are limited to laptop, handbag, briefcase or baby items. All other items have to be checked in, and Emirates will add the cabin baggage allowance to customers’ check-in baggage allowance.