When the coronavirus releases its grip and we slowly start to emerge from quarantine, the world we see will not look the same as it did before we entered lockdown in March 2020. When we begin to re-enter society, lots of elements of our daily lives will change and we know that travel probably will not look the same. From how we book, where and why we travel, our seat selections on the plane and what financial and safety risks we are willing to assume.
The aviation world will inevitably begin to open at some point, but it is tough to say exactly what it is going to look like. There are early signs of key upcoming changes. Firstly, we are likely to see health checks become run of the mill. In some countries, especially in Asia, screening such as temperature checks for passengers are normal and these sorts of checks are likely to be rolled out globally. We may see requirements put in place to show immunization statuses for certain passengers. Overall, the effect 9/11 rightly had on tighter security will be seen for health issues when flying. The experience on board is also likely to be different. Expect stringent cleaning programs, mask and glove wearing, and systems to spread out passengers on an aircraft. We are already seeing some airlines block out all middle seats, and this may become the norm as we try to maintain social distance in the skies.
Flying is possible right now, albeit the choice of routes is severely diminished and the freedoms on travel are also limited. Both things will slowly improve in the coming months, so when you are ‘able’ to fly is going to depend significantly on where you want to. Is there a flight that will take you to your desired destination, and will government and other restrictions at either end allow you to travel? We might see some countries locked down for much longer than others, so you may be able to get to Berlin next month but maybe you will not be able to get to Barbados this year. As domestic restrictions ease up, we should see far more interest in staycations, national parks and beaches near home with people wanting to explore corners of their countries they were never interested in due to the previous ease of international travel.
There is an additional important side issue to consider. The economic impact of the coronavirus could last years, with the potential of significant unemployment, and a deep recession. The resulting reduction in disposable income for millions of people will have a direct effect on the ability to travel. Holidays, or at least the level of extravagance, distance, or duration of breaks are one of the first things to get cut from budgets when times are tough. This could signal the popularity of staycations or shorter bargain European holidays in the coming years. Longer term, there is huge potential for rebound in travel for those wanting to seize the day after feeling the reality of being trapped. People may start to live for the now and aim to realize their dreams. This could mean a boost for bucket list destinations like the Maldives, Petra, the Galapagos, Santorini, Angkor Wat, the Himalayas, or Machu Picchu.
Also tough to decipher is what the cost of travel will be, the necessity of airlines, hotels and other travel companies to fill the coffers via price increases will compete with the need to get bums on seats, heads on pillows, and reservations on the books. This will require price drops to get travelers to part with their limited cash. We might see a number of companies not surviving 2020, resulting in a decrease in competition, demand is likely to be so weak at first that prices will not rocket. Fuel prices are incredibly volatile but are exceptionally low now and this cost decrease for airlines that haven’t locked in older higher prices by hedging may stand to benefit in this area and be able to offer cheaper tickets.
The cruise industry has faced challenges in the past, but always rebounds thanks to a loyal customer base and the value that cruise vacations provide travelers. Though many sailings have been canceled for 2020, a lot of customers simply seem to be rebooking for 2021 and beyond at current fares. The already stringent hygienic standards aboard cruise ships will become even more rigorous and visible. Cruise lines will need to make the public very aware of procedures taken to contain onboard illness.
We could also see a shift away from online and traditional travel agents in some cases where people may want to take advantage of deals available directly with airlines and hotel groups and ease of dealing with issues if things go majorly wrong again, as there have been many complaints of middle men making refunds and changes more difficult.
After the coronavirus upended the travel industry, we all learned a valuable lesson: Epidemics and pandemics are not covered under most types of travel insurance policies. Even independent policies were not much help for travelers who had to back out of travel plans, especially before airlines and hotel groups began modifying cancellation and rebooking policies to accommodate travelers affected by the outbreak. The number of travel insurance policies sold has skyrocketed 200 percent since January, according to InsureMyTrip.
When this is over, it will have likely been months and months since families have really gotten a chance to be together. They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and the post-pandemic world may see an already-growing travel trend of bringing many generations together rise to the next level. We will see no shortage of multigenerational trips and travel providers catering to that demographic. From theme parks, to airports, hotels and beyond, the world of travel will have to change as the world eventually reopens. Precisely what those changes might be remains to be seen.
Travelers will be forced to factor health concerns into their travel choices even more than before. It will be recommended to check verified apps like Outbreaks Near Me to take proper precautions before traveling to a new destination. Many countries, and even some U.S. states, now have mandatory requirements for visitors to isolate for two weeks which should be factored into travel planning.
Despite the tragedy unfolding around the globe, with entire countries closed to the outside world, all the experts have confidence that travel will eventually resume and be as rewarding as ever. While the experience might look and feel different once the world begins to reopen, people can count on the transformative and positive impact of travel to change their own lives and the destinations they visit for the better. We just hope that begins to happen again sooner rather than later.