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Over the past few months, everything about travel has been upended. The number of passengers have plummeted, airlines have refunded passenger ticket purchases (well, except United Airlines 🙄), hotels have closed, cruise ships have been banned from entering ports, and the world continues to grapple with containing the coronavirus.
I think it’s fair to say to that everyone is dreaming of the day when they can visit the beach, plan a vacation and possibly travel internationally again. But will travel ever be the same?
WHEN WILL WE RETURN TO “NORMAL?”
I’ve received several emails asking when I think it is “safe” to travel, when other countries will open their borders, etc. and I thought I would share what I think travel will look like when we return and perhaps what our new “normal” will look like.
Let’s start with easiest change…
DOMESTIC TRAVEL DEMAND RISES BEFORE INTERNATIONAL
We’ve all seen the pictures of the packed planes and it has sparked outrage. We’ve all asked ourselves “is it safe to fly with people sitting that close?”
Once we become more comfortable with flying, travel will slowly rebound with passengers taking shorter trips.
Additionally, with so many countries placing travel bans on visitors (and residents alike), it’s confusing which countries are “open” and “closed.”
For example, both Australia and New Zealand have banned all international travel with no end in sight. I’ve been waiting for Japan to open it’s borders again as they have banned travelers from USA indefinitely. And I wasn’t even aware that Canada and Mexico had suspended flights to/from the US until this morning.
Ultimately, travelers are going to be more comfortable taking shorter flights than 15+ hour flights over the vast oceans.
AIRLINES WILL BE OFFERING DEALS
One of the most asked questions I have received is “do you think airfares are going to get more expensive?”
I wouldn’t worry about airfare getting more expensive.
There is a simple equation that every business operates by…supply and demand and this concept is on full display in the airline industry.
If there are no passengers to fly, the industry goes bust. Although, right now is not the time to fly, the industry needs us and they will be offering incentives to spark that demand and expensive tickets will not be the way that airlines fill seats.
One of the main ways that airlines will convince us that it’s time to travel is by offering deals and there’s no better way to do that than buy slashing prices.
Some airlines have already got the ball rolling.
Note: Even if prices do increase, it’s a great time to understand the points and miles game, because those aren’t going anywhere soon. For many airlines, selling points to the banks is the only profitable part of their business. 😉
HEALTH SCREENINGS WILL BE IMPLEMENTED
The often painful airport security process that we know today (i.e. taking off your shoes, removing your laptop, limit on liquids, etc.) is due to September 11th.
As I said above, many countries have banned travelers from specific countries because of the high rates of coronavirus in those countries (e.g. USA).
In the future, I believe many countries will require some form of medical clearance. What does that look like and how much time will it add to our trips given that millions of passengers were transiting through TSA checkpoints daily in the USA is unclear.
However, this outbreak will undoubtedly be a trigger for health screenings at the airport the same way September 11th changed security for us today.
Regardless to what changes are made, airlines around the world agree that convincing travelers that it’s safe to fly is the linchpin to increasing the number of travelers. How will airlines go about convincing travelers of this? Only time will tell.
I think there will be some additional changes too but I’ll save those for another post.
What do you think will change about travel?