Due to the ongoing pandemic, cabin fever has never felt so real! After spending over two months quarantined within our homes, many are dreaming of the day boarders are opened and restrictions are lifted so that travel can resume. Thousands of people may flock to islands and countries that they have never visited before due to the massive drop in ticket prices that is expected. Many airlines may be forced to decrease their airfare rates or offer special bundle packages to rebound after suffering a severe loss in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But will travelling be safe? What are the new procedures or protocols travelers will have to follow? And will travelling as we know it change forever? These are the questions that may be plaguing the minds of the more ‘anxious’ traveller. Luckily, all of these questions and more will be addressed in this blog, ultimately easing any worry or concern that you may have as it relates to travel.
Will you still need to wear a mask?
Despite the World Health Organization standing by its ‘first call’ that healthy persons do not need to wear masks, the Association of Flight Attendants-Communications Workers of America has suggested that the Department of Transport and Health and Human Services ensure that all passengers aboard American aircrafts are required to wear masks. According to Condé Nast Traveler, an award-winning travel guide, Delta, JetBlue, American Airlines, Air Canada and Air France have made it mandatory for all of their passengers to wear masks. In addition, your temperature may also be measured with thermometer guns at some point during this new travel experience. If your temperature is above 99.5°F, indicating a fever, you may not be permitted to fly. Some people may also be concerned about the quality of air they are breathing in aboard an aircraft, but that air is fairly safe. According to James Fallows, a national correspondent for The Atlantic, on a recent CNN interview, the air aboard an airplane is filtered frequently, and is entirely replaced from the outside every two to three minutes.
How will social distancing be implemented?
It is expected that social distancing markers will be placed at security checkpoints, in corridors, and any other area of the airport where waiting or congregation would normally take place. Restaurants would also be required to ensure that their customers are placed a considerable distance a part when dining-in. According to Forbes, protective barriers will be installed at counters within airports. Forbes also noted that many airlines will now opt to ‘block’ certain seats to ensure that proper social distancing occurs between passengers. For example, if there are three seats no passenger would be allowed in the middle seat to create distance between the person sitting in the window seat and the person sitting in the aisle seat. (Sounds like a dream come true to me!)
Will new sanitation measures be put in place?
One of the main ways to mitigate the spread of any microorganism is to reduce the number of surfaces people are required to touch. Thanks to new advancements in technology, some airlines like British Airways will be requiring all passengers to board with new biometric screening of faces. This would prevent the exchange of items, like a passport, between the employee and passenger, helping to limit the spread of COVID-19. According to Forbes, ‘mega’ airports, like the John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, will require travelers to check-in online. Luggage that is checked in at the airport may be required to undergo disinfection via any process designated by that specific airport: fogging, electrostatic spraying, or the use of ultraviolet light, after this process your bags would then be ‘sanitagged’, as proof that they have already been disinfected. Major European airlines, such as KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Air France have already made it mandatory for their staff to wear protective equipment such as masks and gloves.
What other new precautionary measures should you expect?
Some organizations, such as the International Air Transport Association, are suggesting that travelers be required to travel with an immunity passport or document that would indicate if passengers have been vaccinated for the Coronavirus, once a vaccine is made available. For now, these immunity documents may be issued to persons with detectable COVID-19 antibodies in their bloodstream. Also the United States Travel Association has noted that the business hours of airports and the time of departure for flights may be adjusted to accommodate new disinfection and sanitation protocols.
These are the new ‘sani-protocols’ we may have to face when travelling, but there is no need to be afraid. Choose to trust God, practice good hygiene, follow all the precautionary measures and the health of both you and your family will be preserved. A lot of these new safety protocols may require you to arrive to the airport much earlier than normal, perhaps four hours before your flight. That’s significantly longer than the two hours we’re used to so try to be on time to avoid delays or missed flights. Safe travels!
- World Health Organization COVID-19 Update
- COVID Bahamas Information on Travel
- Ministry of Health Tips to Stay Healthy When Travelling
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Travel
- Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation Statement on COVID-19
- Ministry of Health 24hour-COVID-19 Emergency Numbers
- LPIA Coronavirus Updates