Travel and aviation are two of the hardest-hit industries by COVID-19, and reviving these two sectors is no easy task! The first step to achieve this is to re-establish the withered confidence in flying and ensure the passengers that traveling on planes could be safe. This indispensable necessity has driven airports to redefine the passenger experience and thus enhance the overall air travel experience.
All the domestic and international airports across the world have adopted new measures to facilitate ‘safe travel in the new normal’ and it seems some of the safety measures are going to stick for years to come. As air travel strives to inch toward recovery, let’s reimagine post-pandemic flying by taking a look at how COVID-19 has changed airports for the better.
Automation of most airport operations is the silver lining of this dreary COVID cloud looming large over air travel. Although many airports started investing in automation prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, it can be said that the ongoing crisis has acted as a catalyst for this anticipated change!
Airports are incorporating Artificial Intelligence (AI) and biometric technology to transform the passenger experience right from the point when they enter the airport until they get on the plane. This might influence the post-pandemic flying in the following ways, according to aviation experts:
Robots replacing airport staff:
Airports might prefer to deploy robots for different functions, say cleaning and sanitation of airport terminals, greeting and guiding passengers, luggage maneuvering, and other passenger services. In the near future, robots will come to the aid of airport restaurants and food outlets in providing customers a safe and contactless dining experience.
As contactless travel plays an important role in restoring passenger confidence, airports might completely shift to zero-touch check-in, security, and boarding procedures by leveraging futuristic emerging technology.
Biometric check-in system, which is now available only at a few airports and fewer terminals (for e.g., Delta terminal in Atlanta Airport), will become the standard check-in procedure at every airport. Self-service kiosks, self bag drop, automated restrooms that use sensors might largely define the passenger experience at airports in the post-pandemic world.
Quick security screening:
For a smooth passenger flow at checkpoints, security screening procedures will get faster and simpler than they are now. Airports are working on fully automating the screening system, thereby speeding up the screening process while also reducing the interaction between passengers and airport personnel.
Assigning a specific time slot to every passenger to pass through the security checkpoint might be an alternative to manage the snaking security lines. TSA has recently installed acrylic shields at the security checkpoints and at places where the officers typically interact with passengers as a part of its efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Heightened health screening:
Advanced health screening procedures will help airports to efficiently deal with the current situation as well as any unforeseeable pandemic outbreaks.
Airports such as Los Angeles International Airport are already using thermal cameras to detect passengers with higher temperatures. Experts predict passengers will be made to pass through disinfection tunnels, down the line. They might also be required to complete a health acknowledgment form during check-in and additional health screenings and tests after arriving at the destination airport.
Social Distancing Solutions:
Airports across the world are likely to continue the social distancing measures, due to which certain limitations like entry restrictions (only ticketed passengers might be allowed to enter) and lounge capacity limitations, etc., might become permanent.
While floor signage (such as directional arrows) guides passengers to maintain proper social distancing, virtual queues ease congestion at departure gates. Here, passengers will be notified on the mobile when it’s their turn to move toward the gates.
How is flying experience going to be like post COVID?
Above is the infographic that we have made while understanding aviation experts’ views on ‘what air travel might look like’ in the not too distant future and the role of tech revolution in the aviation industry to ensure passengers a safe and risk-free flying.
How will airport design change in the wake of COVID-19?
Airport architects say that the airport design takes into careful consideration the realities of COVID-19 travel so as to provide passengers a stress-free post-pandemic flying experience. The future airports are expected to have spacious terminals with the focus on efficient use of the space on both the airside and landside of terminals to reduce the occupancy in the usual high-density areas.