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How will we travel after Covid-19?

Jade Perry
lastminute.com team member

Many of us are itching to travel, ready to jet off to a dream destination and soak it all in. Once we are able to start travelling again, what will change? What rules will be put in place? How can you travel safely?

Is it safe to fly? 

There are various measures that are being introduced to ensure that flying is safe once travel resumes. This is the most important priority for airlines. Below are some of things you can expect for your next flight. 

Airlines will increase cleaning before and after flights. Many airlines will disinfect planes before passengers board. Etihad, for example, will follow strict cleaning procedures to disinfect planes and sterilise utensils and surfaces after every flight. Most planes are also fitted with a HEPA air filtration system that eliminates more than 99.8% of all airborne microbes, making the journey more safe and ensuring that you feel comfortable.

Face masks will be mandatory. Air FranceKLM and Lufthansa have made face masks compulsory. Ryanair has also said that it intends to make this part of its plan. Across the Atlantic, United Airlines and Delta are also making face masks a must for all passengers and cabin crew.

Increased cleaning, mandatory face masks, limited in-flight food options and the removal of in-flight magazines are all things you can expect on your next trip.

The boarding process will change. We expect that airlines will enforce social distancing rules for boarding. This may be done in groups, with passengers receiving a phone notification when it’s their turn to go to the gate for boarding. This will reduce crowding and queues.

The layout of planes will be re-examined. Emirates, easyJet and Delta have said that they will keep middle seats empty when travel resumes. Some airlines may also reduce the overall number of people allowed on each flight to allow for sufficient social distancing. We might even see changes to the plane layout. Italian airline seat design firm Aviointeriors proposed a design in which the middle seat faces backwards and has a plastic shield on either side to separate it from the aisle and window seats. This has not been used by any airlines yet, but it is very possible that we see a change in the design of some planes.

In-flight food and shopping may be limited. You will be encouraged to bring your own food and drink to minimise contact with flight attendants. Some airlines, such as Delta in the US, will limit their in-flight food options. Lufthansa has also temporarily suspended on-board sales. 

In-flight magazines will be removed. For those who love to flick through magazines, this will be disappointing. Wizz Air, Air Canada and Lufthansa have removed in-flight magazines to minimise the spread of germs. We expect that others will follow suit. 

Covid-19 tests will be conducted on some airlines. Emirates became the first airline to test passengers for Covid-19. The rapid blood tests display the results within 10 minutes. This will offer reassurance that the flight you’re on is safe. Some airlines, such as Air France, will impose temperature checks and those with body temperatures over 38°C will not be allowed to board. Their reservation will be moved to another date at no extra charge.

Isolation upon arrival.
This is perhaps the most talked about change. The UK government announced that all air travellers will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days upon entering the UK, apart from those coming from Ireland and France. This includes foreign travellers and British nationals returning from another country. Further details about this are expected. Spain, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea are also imposing a 14-day quarantine for those arriving into the country.

How are airports keeping people safe? 

Just like airlines, airports are committed to keeping you safe and healthy. Here are some of the things that they will do.

Airports will try to enforce social distancing where possible. At Manchester Airport, the luggage from busier flights is being sent to multiple conveyor belts to reduce crowding in one area of baggage claim. At both Gatwick and Heathrow Airport, signs have been put up to remind you to keep two metres apart from others while queuing at departure gates and security.

Hand sanitiser will be made available for travellers. In London, Gatwick, Heathrow and Luton Airport have made it a priority to increase hand sanitiser stations to keep you clean and safe. Liverpool Airport, Edinburgh Airport, Newcastle International Airport and Cardiff Airport have also increased the installation of these hand sanitiser units.

Medical professionals will be present within the airport. A dedicated Public Health England (PHE) team of doctors is operating at Heathrow Airport. Heathrow has also created  a dedicated terminal pier area to be used by the PHE team when dealing with suspected cases. This is isolated from the rest of the airport to keep you safe. Bristol Airport also has trained first aid responders with personal protection equipment (PPE) in case they are needed for suspected cases.

Airports will implement strict cleaning procedures and social distancing regulations. Hand sanitiser stations, luggage disinfection, dedicated medical teams and health screenings will also be available in some airports.

Strict cleaning procedures will be put in place. Most UK airports have increased cleaning and some, such as Gatwick Airport, have hired extra staff to do this.

Luggage will be disinfected. It’s also possible that your luggage and carry-on bags will be ‘sanitagged’. This involves sanitising bags and tagging them once they’ve been disinfected.  This could be done at check-in for larger suitcases, at security for carry-on bags, and at arrival (before being placed on the conveyor belt). Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi is already using UV technology to disinfect luggage so it’s likely others will follow suit soon.

Lounges, shops and restaurants will remain closed.  To reduce contact between people, these areas have been closed in most airports across the UK.

Health screenings Heathrow Airport will be trialling large-scale temperature checks, Although the WHO has strongly advised against so-called ‘immunity passports’, as there is no evidence you cannot be infected twice, we may see some airlines asking for health certificates.

Is it safe to travel by train?

When travel resumes, here are some of the things you can expect.

Reduced train services. As we ease back into travelling, trains are unlikely to immediately go back to being as frequent as before. This will happen over time and you should expect that some train services will be reduced. National Rail has stated that half the number of trains are currently operating compared to a normal weekday. Unfortunately, there will be temporary suspensions of some trains as well. Hull Trains, Gatwick Express and Grand Central are temporarily suspending all of their trains. According to LNER, tickets for Grand Central will be accepted on LNER lines as well as all other train operating companies if you are a key worker or if your travel is essential.

Train travellers will see reduced services, increased availability of soap on-board, reduced contact with staff and an increase in contactless payments.

Face masks will become a necessity. As with air travel, we expect that several train lines will make face masks mandatory. Eurostar has already done this.

Increased cleaning on trains and at train stations
. As with airports and airlines, this is an important consideration for trains and train stations.

Face masks will become a necessity.
 As with air travel, we expect that several train lines will make face masks mandatory. Eurostar has already done this

Increased cleaning on trains and at train stations
. As with airports and airlines, this is an important consideration for trains and train stations.

Improved stock of soap and hand sanitiser.
National Rail will ensure that toilet facilities are well stocked with soap, while Transport for Wales is providing hand sanitiser at key locations.

Reducing contact with train staff both at stations and on trains.
LNER and ScotRail have temporarily removed on-board catering from trains to minimise contact.

Increase in contactless payments.
Where relevant, contactless payments at train stations and on trains will become the norm. This is the case for Avanti West Coast and South Western Railway. 

Closing lounges and waiting rooms.
LNER and Avanti West Coast have closed all waiting rooms and First Class lounges.

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