How Airlines Will Improve in the Near Future
Travel is a strange thing to think about in 2020. International transportation, at least for recreational purposes, has slowed to a crawl. And there are certain kinds of attractions that may simply be closed down for a while. For instance, it’s hard to imagine anyone attending one of the selections from our ‘Best Street Parties in Europe’ in the next year or two. Likewise, common draws like festivals and sporting events might not be drawing a crowd. At some point though, the coronavirus outbreak that has stalled travel this year will be well enough under control for people to start travelling the world again.
When we get to that point, it’s possible that air travel will be a little bit different.
Long viewed as an industry that could use a little bit of an overhaul, the air travel business may now be forced to make changes. These changes will come about for a handful of reasons — namely, incentivizing passengers to take trips, making passengers feel safe, and finding ways to bump up revenue. Specifically, we expect to see some of the following ideas in action.
More Focus on Sanitation
The clearest need for change is with regard to sanitation. As the BBC’s article about changes in air travel points out, this could be a shift akin to what we saw with security back in 2001. At that time, the 11 September terrorist attacks in the United States permanently altered airport and airplane security. Now, we may see the 2020 coronavirus outbreak do the same thing to sanitation.
What exactly this will look like remains to be seen. But we can expect a much greater focus on cleanliness in airports and on planes. It may be that more time is spent cleaning planes between flights. Terminals will likely be stocked with hand sanitiser and other cleaning materials. We may even see some airlines rethink their seating in order to create more space between passengers.
New Wi-Fi & Payment Methods
We may also see airlines giving some thought to improving the online experiences they offer. These changes have already been on the way, in fact. Better Wi-Fi technology, and some subtle shifts from common on-board providers’ offerings are poised to make it easier for passengers to enjoy reliable internet connections. And at the same time, airlines are known to be exploring new payment methods that will make it easier for passengers to pay for perks — from actual internet connections to premium online content and retail items.
These advances will serve two purposes. One is to offer a better in-flight experience once people get flying again. The other is to expand revenue streams for airlines that need a pick-me-up. The airline payment solutions on FIS Global shows how more seamless commerce on planes (and in terminals) will help airlines to “convert more sales anywhere, anytime, and on any device.”
Lower Change Fees
This is something that may or may not become a widespread change among airlines around the wold. Recently though, a report about United Airlines from USA Today indicated that the popular American airline might entirely do away with change fees. United has joined other airlines in scrapping change fees (which can sometimes cost more than actual tickets) during the pandemic. But in an effort to emerge from said pandemic better equipped to satisfy customers, the company may turn this into a permanent shift. Again, this is an isolated story pertaining to a U.S. airline — but it’s an interesting initiative we’d love to see other companies imitate.
This suggestion goes hand-in-hand with shifting sanitation policies. But expect part of the effort that airlines make in this regard to involve a little bit more privacy. As a result of the pandemic, people are simply going to be more hesitant to sit in tight quarters with one another — shoulder to shoulder, breathing openly beside each other, and so on. To put passengers at ease in this regard, airlines are likely working on solutions that will separate seats more effectively.
In the short term, this may just mean retractable dividers or face shields of some kind, which could be retrofitted into existing planes. Over time though, we may see some interesting redesigns of the entire seating concept. Lonely Planet’s look at double-decker seating concepts, for instance, presents a design that would radically improve privacy — and make the in-flight experience a great deal more comfortable.
These are just a few of the changes we might see in the coming years. But even these would make for a different (and improved) flight experience.