While air travel remains to be a difficult topic of discussion as the threat of coronavirus still looms, major North American airlines have had to adapt to face the risks that air travel inherently pose.
While not all of the news has been good, the airline industry seems to be adjusting. From new onboard protocols to evolving utilization, here’s how the future of air travel will look like in the time of coronavirus.
Wear your masks
Generally, many airlines are at least strongly suggesting the use of a mask. Some of them will even supply passengers with masks, or assist them with making their own.
Understandably, flights with onboard meals will allow passengers to take off their masks at mealtimes. Masks are also not required whenever cabin pressure destabilizes.
It should be noted that while masks will most likely be mandatory throughout airports, not all airlines require them to be worn onboard as a matter of course.
Airlines cannot make money out of distancing
Another policy that many airlines had some difficulty adapting to at first is the policy to keep middle seats free.
While many eventually acceded to the need to keep distancing options open, one airline tried to use this opportunity to make a profit.
CNN reports that Frontier Airlines was going to charge customers extra should they want to keep middle seats empty. This was not well-received by the riding public, and even put Frontier in the crosshairs of several lawmakers.
Representatives of Tennessee, Illinois, and a Massachusetts senator wrote to the airlines’ CEO Barry Biffle, calling the move to charge for extra space “unreasonable and disproportional.”
Biffle, on his part, said that the move was not a profiteering move, but instead one that gave passengers an option to purchase more room. However, the airline eventually decided to do away with the promo.
Delays in connecting flights
SFist notes that airlines will likely be disinfecting cabin equipment more often as a protective measure. This could be a source of delays, especially for connecting flights.
In fact, Forbes warns that the delay caused by disinfecting efforts could end up costing airlines up to 18% of all connecting flights.
Time spent in screening passengers before boarding could also add to the time between connecting flights, which could mean that air travel might take longer than it used to.