Let me take you back, to a time not so long ago, but well before any of us had ever heard of COVID-19. A time when washing our hands was important and we found ourselves carrying around cute little lovely scented bottles of hand sanitizer around with us, giving not one bit of thought as to the alcohol content percentage.
Back in 2011 I shared some thoughts on the germs that may be lurking on airplanes, I’m sure that created some pause. Now, here we are in 2020, in the midst of COVID-19 and everyone, certainly all those in the travel industry, are doing a lot more than washing hands. Nor is it unusual to find bulk-sized at least 60% alcohol hand sanitizer bottles at reception desks and entrances/exits.
Since travel can definitely quicken the spread of infectious disease, airlines have stepped up to the challenge. Here are some changes you can expect to see the next time you fly:
- Those flying will be required to wear face masks; masks will be provided to those that do not come prepared.
- Check-in desks, kiosks and baggage stations will be wiped down thoroughly throughout the day.
- Expect to see a lot of plexiglass shields.
- Planes will be sanitized before boarding with electrostatic sprayers.
- Boarding will start in the back of the plane and move forward (yes First Class, you are now boarding last). Also expect the amount of people to board at any given time to be reduced to possibly 10 or so at a time.
- Food and beverage service will be minimized, therefore minimizing contact.
- Advanced air filtration systems may have been installed.
- Planes will fly at less capacity in order provide for more room between passengers.
What might the new flying normal look like in the future? It’s possible that passengers will be required to have their temperature taken before entering the airport. There’s a possibility that all visitors to the airport may be given COVID-19 tests, and could be flagged if they appear to be symptomatic. Carry-ons may need to be checked, but some good news is that the IATA is suggesting that airlines be able to use the maximum number of baggage claim conveyer belts in order to speed up the process (yay a win!).
We all play a part in the germ-free game; wash hands frequently, avoid touching face, cover coughs and sneezes with the vampire-technique, practice socially distancing 6 feet apart, and keep an eye on information from the CDC.
We must also do our best to land our attitudes somewhere in the cautious + light-hearted + grateful place. The airline employees are working hard to keep us safe, but even with all that’s going on, we can still add some levity to the situation. Stay safe, Meeting Planners!