Image via Unsplash
Since March last year, we’re sure everyone can agree that things went from zero to a hundred in a hot minute. To see how COVID-19 trickled down from one place to the rest of the world ending up in a pandemic, truly shows us how life can be so unpredictable.
So much has happened over the past few months — starting from the toilet paper rage, introverts rejoicing in their natural habitat, the endless quality memes, all the stay-at-home initiatives and live videos, and the best of all — Dalgona Coffee and TikTok being as relevant as ever.
It’s good to reflect on how things have escalated, but it’s even more important to be aware of how we’re all going to move on with this “new norm”.
That being said, let’s start with travel.
It’s no surprise that the travel industry had decelerated, but just like every other industry, it has to start all over again. Destinations, adventure excitement and Insta-worthy moments aside, what’s more important is that you should know what to expect traveling post-MCO.
Let’s dive into the details.
#1 You might need more more than just a passport
Image via Unsplash
You will travel again, but procedures won’t be the same. Travel procedures will be heightened, more so if you’re coming from a place with a high number of outbreaks — chances are screening at the border will be too late.
Entrance will only be allowed if you have an immunity or vaccination certificate, stating that either you’ve recovered from an infection or that you’ve been vaccinated (once the vaccine is available). QR health codes showing the category of your health rate will highly likely be improvised and implemented, as it had already begun in China.
The new norm of traveling will be very purpose-based, employers will have to limit the number of employees traveling for business. This also means more paperwork and documentation to prepare before you travel.
#2 Social distancing in the airport
Image via Malaysia Airports
This comes as no surprise but longer queues might be inevitable, for the sake of everyone’s safety. The check-in and boarding line will operate with this in mind, alongside providing hand sanitizers, masks, or gloves for or when handling passengers.
Protective barriers at the check-in desks will be necessary for communication between airline staff and the passenger.
#3 Your packing essentials will now be different
Image via Unsplash
Makeup and skincare aside, the new norm is to be extra cautious. Masks, travel-sized hand sanitizers, and disinfectant wipes are items that should be added to your list of things-to-pack. Better to be safe than sorry!
#4 Boarding process may change
Image via Unsplash
Airlines have always segregated passengers in groups for boarding. But now, more so than ever, the boarding process has to minimise getting too close to each other in a confined space.
In the near future, it’s better to board according to your row number, so everyone can be seated a row at a time. This does require a little bit more patience, but it isn’t far from the standard boarding procedures.
Alternatively, airlines can request passengers to board earlier than usual to facilitate the new safety structure. Some airlines have already installed an in-app notification that notifies the passenger when their seat is boarding — but that might not work with passengers of all ages.
However, we’re sure that the airlines would come up with a standard and efficient procedure that’s applicable for everyone.
#5 Onsite blood test & health screening before check-in
Image via Emirates
From the sound of that, you can already imagine how time consuming it will be. Of course, having your temperature taken is way more preferable than being pricked with a needle, but temperature checks aren’t always conclusive.
Here’s the thing — a quick blood test procedure was conducted by the Dubai Health Authority, and the results were available within 10 minutes. The test was done at the check-in area of Dubai International Airport.
There’s no confirmation that this will be the new norm for all airlines, there’s indeed room for improvisation, as the process is not only time consuming, but expensive. Additionally, if such a procedure were to be taken, airlines are bound to add a new health screening fee or tax on top of what you’re already paying.
Image via anthill
That aside, there has been a new technology created by Elenium Automation, in trial partnership with Etihad Airways, that is a self-service device placed at airports to help identify any medical conditions, of which includes COVID-19.
It monitors your body temperature, heart and respiratory rate when you use any of the airport touchpoints, e.g. self service check-in, information kiosk, bag drop, security. If your vital signs show potential symptoms of illness, it will automatically suspend the service.
It will then alert the staff on site to make further appropriate arrangements for you. The technology is ‘hands free’, enabling the use of self-service devices through voice recognition, hence minimising the potential of any bacterial transmission.
This technology is being tested for use because it will not only be of help during this period, but also in the future with screening passengers to minimise any sort of outbreak or disruption.
It is said that it isn’t designed to officially diagnose anyone with any condition, but it serves as a precaution that will help identify symptoms, and more importantly, prevent spreading.
All these are still in the works, but it is a great blessing to have people working on technologies to help ease the process of traveling and to prevent the world from having further outbreaks.
Travel will be back, it has to. But no one can say for sure what it’ll be like post-pandemic. While the world waits for a vaccine, we too, should know what to expect.
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