Just like September 11th forever changed our travel patterns, COVID-19 is another event that will have a lasting impact. Air travel has seen many changes throughout the past two years. There have been restrictions, changes in amenities, and shifts in travel trends.
One thing that is on many people’s minds is, what is the lasting impact of COVID-19 on air travel?
In this article, we will share our thoughts on how the pandemic will affect how we move about the world.
It will take a while for COVID to disappear completely, even if it isn’t an issue in some countries. It will take the world some time to return to “normal.”
In the meantime, likely, there will still be quarantine periods and restrictions between countries. These may affect travel between certain countries, but not all.
If you plan on traveling anytime soon, you’ll want to look up requirements in your destination. You can get the latest updates by using the Kayak restriction tracker and looking up details about the country you plan on visiting.enter image description here
Even when the pandemic is gone, we expect vaccine mandates to stay, especially for international destinations.
Many countries already require vaccinations and immunizations before entering. Therefore, COVID-19 vaccines will likely be a part of the existing health requirements for travel.
Here are a few examples of other standard immunizations many countries require before entry.
However, we do expect that not every country will require COVID-19 vaccinations for travelers in the future. There are already some that do not. Check the official public health website of the country you’re visiting for the latest information.
Something that could also permanently shift is meals and amenities onboard.
During COVID-19, many airlines started no longer offering inflight magazines, pillows, and meals.
Airlines before the pandemic were already limiting their onboard offerings, mainly for domestic flights. There were optional food and amenities, but they didn’t offer them automatically.
Airlines will likely continue to make services and meals optional rather than automatically providing them after the pandemic.
During the pandemic, there has been a reduction of person-to-person interaction, especially between flight staff and customers.
It will be interesting to see if these interactions will continue to stay minimal or return.
Some international flights had already reduced interpersonal interaction before the pandemic. For example, Norwegian Airlines had seatback screens to order and pay for food and beverages. This system significantly reduced customer/flight attendant interaction. These technologies could continue to grow post-pandemic and shape how passengers interact with flight staff.
One of the significant impacts of the pandemic in every industry has been staffing shortages. The airline industry is no exception.
There has been challenge after challenge for the airline industry throughout the pandemic. In the beginning, there was a massive wave of layoffs due to reduced demand. Then, during Omicron, there were shortages due to the spread of the virus.
As things recover, there will likely be lasting effects from these shortages. It will take time for airlines to fully recover.
Another long-term impact COVID can have on travel is higher and lower airfare, depending on where you’re going.
On the one hand, some destinations may charge higher airfare due to demand, shortages, fuel costs, and other factors.
On the other hand, some destinations are still reeling from the impact COVID-19 has had on their economy and may try to entice tourists to visit.
Additionally, there may be fewer budget airline options due to a lack of planes and decreased capacity.
Many flights adjusted their “flight change” policies during the pandemic to be more relaxed. They did this to combat the uncertainty and constantly evolving changes COVID caused.
The future still looks uncertain for airlines, and the virus, so many airlines will likely keep their flight change policies, at least in the short-term. Maintaining these policies alleviates the lack of confidence many consumers have in air travel at the moment.
It’s hard to say how long these policies will last, but they should remain intact for the time being.
COVID has also impacted the way airlines look at onboard safety. For example, airlines implemented new procedures like masks, sanitation protocols, and other safety procedures during the pandemic. We compared a few different countries current air travel mandates here.
These measures will likely lift as numbers improve, but it might shift the way airlines look at safety In general. So even if these new measures do not stay permanently, they will likely influence planning going forward.
With many people avoiding travel the past few years, we predict that there will be a massive rebound once things calm down. There will likely be pent-up demand, and summer 2022 could be a hot time for people to travel if places continue to open up and cases continue to trend downward.
However, this will depend on airline capacity, COVID-19 cases worldwide, individual country restrictions, and many other factors. Additionally, other world events outside of COVID, like the Russia Ukraine conflict, can also impact air travel.
Most of all, a theme for many airlines as COVID-19 begins to subside will be recovery. Airlines will have to navigate the transition from lower demand to increased travel.
There will also be the challenge of restoring consumer confidence in air travel. With everything that has happened in the past two years, many people are still afraid to fly. Airlines will have to address those fears and work with a still uncertain future.
No matter how much we try to predict the future, no one knows what it holds.
Many experts have made predictions, but the truth is that COVID-19 is an ever-changing situation.
Only time will tell what the future of airline travel will be post-COVID. The only thing that is certain is that this pandemic will have a lasting impact on air travel for many years to come.