How COVID-19 Changed Air Travel for Good

airplanes parked at the airport
Photo by Ahmed Muntasir on Pexels.com

Before COVID-19, airports worldwide were buzzing with activity, with one flight after another taking off to an exciting destination. Families went on vacations together, and friends planned annual summer trips, sometimes flying to the other side of the world.

Everything changed when COVID-19 happened. Suddenly, airports were shut down, and airline companies had to park their planes and keep them inside hangars. Everyone had to stay at home.

Even if things have eased up a bit after three years, things aren’t really back to normal. There is some level of normalcy, but COVID-19 protocols are still very much around. The rules may no longer be as strict as when air travel first reopened, but some changes need getting used to – for both the travellers and the airline industry. After all, the pandemic is still here – and it probably will be for a long time.

Airline companies have gradually started operating again, but things are not how they used to be as certain changes have had to be made in the global aviation industry. Commercial airlines are back in business, but for those who have the financial capability, the best option is to charter private plane services wherever they have to go.

Whether you take a commercial airline or charter a private plane, certain changes in air travel may be around for good – or at least for several years. Fortunately, with the current positive developments in the COVID-19 situation, some of these changes may be welcome news for you and other travellers. 

Changes in Air Travel Post-Pandemic

1. Pre-travel information for travellers coming into the U.S. and those travelling to other countries. 

If you are travelling to international destinations, it is your responsibility to get information about COVID-19 protocols and related recommendations, including those coming from the U.S. State Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The said government agencies may have firmer rules and warnings for some countries, especially those with high numbers of COVID-positive individuals.

Similarly, you also need information from authorities in other countries you are travelling to. Requirements and restrictions vary according to the current COVID-19 status of the destination you are headed for.

2. Face masks are no longer mandatory in many countries.

Woman putting on a face mask
Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Masks are a sensitive issue for many travellers, with over 5,700 reports of passengers displaying disruptive, violent behaviour while on the plane, mostly because of disputes about wearing a mask. This will no longer be a problem, however, as U.S. authorities recently announced that face masks are no longer necessary for airline travel.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) have also dropped the mandatory wearing of face masks in airlines and airports. Both authorities, however, still recognize that wearing face masks is still one of the most effective and easiest ways to protect oneself from the COVID-19 virus.

However, passengers who are sneezing and coughing are highly encouraged to wear face masks at all times during their travel. Vulnerable passengers must wear high-protection masks, such as KN95, N95, or FFP2.

The rules for face masks vary from one airline to another, specifically those travelling to destinations where mask-wearing is still a strict requirement.

3. COVID-19 vaccination

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC no longer requires travellers from foreign countries to submit a proof of negative COVID-19 test or documentation of recovery before going onboard their flight. This took effect on June 12, 2022, at 12:01 AM ET.

However, the CDC will continue with its periodical assessment of the need for testing, particularly when there are new COVID-19 variants. Since the virus continues to evolve, the CDC will implement full health and safety measures to protect the public when the situation calls for it.

While COVID-19 tests and recovery documents are no longer necessary, authorities still require non-citizen, non-immigrant travellers entering the U.S. to present proof of vaccination against the virus.

4. Change in booking behaviour

Although the number of bookings continues to increase, airline representatives still notice some hesitation on the part of travellers. Many now prefer to book their flights or buy tickets at later dates, sometimes even one day before their chosen departure date. Planning flights months ahead is considered by many as too risky with all the uncertainties of the pandemic.  

5. Budget airlines

Several low-cost airlines did quite well during the pandemic, and some new ones have even launched their services quite recently. While these flights are nothing like the business class types that sell for thousands of dollars, there are reasonable enough alternatives for travellers who need to travel on a budget, especially now that airline fares continue to shoot up.

Most budget airlines travel U.S. and European routes and allow the affordable purchase of one-way tickets. Amenities, such as in-flight meals, may not be available for all flights.

Aside from low-cost airlines in the U.S., travellers may also want to check out budget airlines in Tokyo and the Dominican Republic. Travellers looking for new destinations to visit may also find budget airlines interesting.

6. More travellers prefer private jets.

Private jets at an airport
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When airports reopened after the long lockdown, the private jet industry thrived because they became the preferred means of air travel by many. Private jets weren’t a new thing for the rich and moneyed, but they were for those who were used to saving so they could travel. Many of these travellers didn’t have the money to charter a private plane, but they still preferred it overriding a commercial airline and risking their health and safety.

Even with most pandemic restrictions already lifted, there are now significantly more private jet travellers. As of January 2022, there is a 40% increase in take-offs and landings in 2021 compared to 2019.

It is safe to say that flights to nowhere will be around for a while, though not all airline companies will adopt the concept.

7. New technologies

Even if millions of people have already been vaccinated against COVID-19, and even if face mask use is no longer strictly implemented, authorities will continue to explore new technologies that ensure the safety of travellers and airlines.

Airline companies will continue to offer contactless check-ins and various virtual services. Travellers will continue to look for safer alternatives for services and amenities they’ve been availing of even before the pandemic. More and more people now prefer to book their flights online. Financially-stable families would rather travel on private charter jets than on commercial airlines.

Long after the COVID-19 pandemic has ended, new technologies that ensure everyone’s safety will continue to emerge.

Regardless of where you are flying from, where you are going, or what airline you are flying with, expect changes to welcome you. After all, the travel industry is always changing and evolving, especially at a challenging time like the COVID-19 pandemic.

About the Author:

Melissa Hull is the Content Marketing Strategist for Aviation Charters, a West Trenton, New Jersey-based private aviation company that provides on-demand aircraft charter, aircraft management, and aircraft acquisition services. Aside from her passion for writing, she loves to travel and read espionage books.

How to Be a Traveler instead of a Tourist

Person in the airport

Travelers and tourists both like to travel and visit places. However, depending on the cause of travel, you can only use one of the terms to describe a person who travels. For instance, a tourist travels for pleasure while a traveler goes on a journey. Also, tourists are considered amateurs, but at the same time, you can’t become a traveler before being a tourist first. You can learn how to be a traveler instead of a tourist by following some simple steps. So let us see how you can improve your traveling experiences and learn how to blend in as a traveler instead of sticking out as a tourist.

Research your destination

Before visiting any new place, you should first research it. And not just on the map. That is one big difference between travelers and tourists. While tourists seek out the major attractions of their destination, travelers seek out the culture and history of the place. Additionally, travelers study the local customs to communicate and connect with the locals more easily. Furthermore, research can also keep you safe during solo travel. If you know where you are heading, you know how to avoid problematic neighborhoods or conflict areas, for instance.

As a result, research your destination on travel blogs and guidebooks, look for local newspapers, and watch documentaries. Know as much as you can about your destination, and you will be one step closer to being a traveler instead of a tourist.

Live like a local

While most tourists choose to stay in a hotel, travelers prefer to be closer to the locals by staying at an Airbnb, a hostel, or even Couchsurfing. That way, their experience is more authentic and personalized. You can even look for a voluntary homestay if you want to be in the heart of the community and be helpful. There, locals will be grateful for your help and warmly welcome you. However, if you are uncertain about where you will be staying or how secure the place will be, you should leave your valuables at home. You can, for instance, rent a storage unit where you can store your belongings until you return from your travel. Storage units are a safe and secure place where your valuables will be in good hands for as long as you need.

Forget your camera

One thing that reveals that a person is a tourist is the camera in their hand or the obnoxious selfie stick. All locals despise tourists for snapping hundreds of photos per minute, posing for the perfect selfie in the wrong place, and using the flash when they shouldn’t. If you want to be a traveler instead of a tourist, forget about your camera from time to time. Sure, you can photograph special moments or places that will make great memories. Nobody will tell you otherwise. However, be careful about how and when you do it. For instance, always get permission before photographing people, monuments, graves, or works of art. Also, make sure that when you are trying to take a picture, you are not blocking the way or the view of others. Be polite, and nobody will hold a grudge against you for taking pictures.

Put away your map

Another thing specific to tourists is the map in their hands. You can always see a confused tourist sitting in the middle of a road, checking a map for directions. So if you don’t want to end up in the same situation, put away your map. Or, better yet, get lost in the city. Travelers are known for spontaneity and not so much for planning. Also, you will never know what hidden jewel you can find in the small neighborhoods of a city. It can be a valuable painting tucked away in a local church, a beautiful monument, or impressive street architecture.

In addition, when you get lost in the city, you will also see the daily life of locals. You will see where children like to play, where the elderly meet to socialize, and where and how locals relax. And, after you see how locals live, you can get a bit more personal and socialize.

A woman looking at a map
If you want to be more like a traveler than a tourist, don’t be afraid to explore your destination without a map.

Learn the language and socialize

You have to get to know a place firsthand if you want a true sense of it. And that you will achieve by meeting the locals and doing what they are doing. Ask them where the best food is, what you can do for fun, or where to go for hikes. Locals will always tell you the little secrets of their city that don’t appear in guidebooks. Of course, you should first learn at least a few words in their language. Learn how to greet politely, how to say thank you and please, yes and no, and how to say that you don’t understand. Any local will be thrilled about your effort to learn their language, even if it’s just a few words. Furthermore, you can even expect your effort to be rewarded with a special tour of the city or a great travel tip.

Avoid cheap souvenirs

You will undoubtedly come across several small yet crowded souvenir shops wherever you go. They are full of noisy tourists that are looking for a bargain. Most tourists, however, are unaware that those shops are often a rip-off, and the items they buy are not authentic. That is why, if you want to be a traveler instead of a tourist, take your time and find the most original souvenirs to take home. For instance, you can visit local stores and markets and find handcrafted or locally made products. And the best part is that you can, most of the time, negotiate the price for what you buy from a producer. However, you should always be polite and know when there is space for bargaining or when you should pay the price listed. Even if some vendors are trying to empty your wallet, it is not the case with all of them.

Be a traveler instead of a tourist

The main difference between tourists and travelers will always be time. Tourists usually have limited time on their hands to visit and explore a destination. For that reason, they move with the crowd, pay higher prices for everything, and return home more tired than when they left. Travelers, on the other hand, have time to get lost in the surroundings, meet the locals, learn the language, and most of all, relax. That’s why it will pay off to be a traveler instead of a tourist.

12 Smart Tips To Improve Your Traveling Experience

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Like most areas in life, you are not born a savvy traveler; smart travel comes with experience and with making a lot of travel mistakes! Some traveling mishaps can be avoided and some of them are just a part of traveling. You cannot plan for everything, however, keeping a few things in mind will make your travels more enjoyable and make you a better traveler.

Now that things are opening up once again, I want to start booking trips and visiting new places. These smart tips to improve your traveling experience will enable you to save money, sleep better, and be safe.

1. Do Your Research

When you are planning a holiday, you are going to want to find the best deal when it comes to flights and accommodation. The best way to do that is to investigate deals from different travel companies as well as independent travel sites.

When traveling, research can significantly impact your time for the better. Researching prior to setting off can give you deep insights into the area, telling you places to avoid and places that you must go.

When you have settled on a destination, here are some things that you should research:

  • What are the country’s visa requirements?
  • What’s the weather/climate going to be like?
  • Are there any public holidays going on?
  • What is the tipping etiquette?
  • What clothing is culturally appropriate?

As well as being completely relaxed before you even leave, being prepared to travel in advance will make your time in-country a more joyful experience as you will have reduced any potential risks. Here are 5 things you should research when you have chosen a destination:

  • Currency and exchange rates
  • Mode of transportation
  • Accommodation
  • Culture – what is acceptable and what is not

2. Get Travel Insurance

Travel insurance can give you extra protection if our holiday doesn’t go ahead as planned especially when it comes to the COVID pandemic. It is particularly important to take out travel insurance if you are traveling independently because you may find yourself stranded due to unforeseen traveling problems.

If you are planning to engage in holiday activities such as water sports, it is vital that you check that your insurance policy covers you for activities like diving for example.

3. Make A Packing List

Before your trip, you should make a list of everything you need to pack. Writing a packing list is a great way to stay organised whilst traveling. It is important to write a list so that you do not forget vital travel documents and essentials that you will need. Using a list when you are getting ready to pack can save you time as well as reduce stress.

4. Stay Near Or At The Airport The Night Before

If your funds allow staying overnight either at or near the airport, you’ll start your holiday a little earlier! Instead of rushing to the airport on the day of your flight, you can relax and have a slower start to your day. You will be able to eliminate the stress and worry of being stuck in traffic or missing your train.

5. Take A Credit Card For Emergencies

Disasters can happen. It is always a good idea to have a backup in case you lose your card or even worse, you are robbed. You do not want to be stuck somewhere without access to your funds. It is important that you check your bank when it comes to withdrawing money abroad to ensure that you do not incur any fees. Also, let your card company know that you are traveling and where you are going before you leave. This will enable them to track any fraudulent activity on your account.

6. Take The Correct Plug Adapters

Different countries have different plug sockets, so ensure that you have the right one – do your research! Better still, invest in a universal adapter (covers all sockets worldwide), so that you don’t need to worry. You don’t want your camera, phone, or electric toothbrush to run out of charge!

7. Make Extra Copies Of Your Passport And Important Documents

Don’t forget to email yourself a copy as well. You never know when you might need to have some sort of documentation with you as you may not want to carry the originals. Additionally, if your passport is stolen, having a copy will be helpful for your police report and any trips to the embassy that you may need to make.

Photo by Spencer Davis on Pexels.com

8. Don’t Forget An Extra Camera Battery

You never want to reach for your camera to take a photograph of a memorable moment and realize that your camera battery is dead. By bringing an extra battery, you can always ensure that you have one on charge and you can alternate. That way, you’ll always be ready to capture those favorite moments!

9. Roll Your Clothes!

The best way to prevent creases and make the most of your space is to roll your clothes. Lay tops face down, fold in the sleeves, and roll from the bottom up. For trousers, put the legs together and roll from the waist down. Place your shoes and heavier items in first and place your clothes around them. Alternatively, once you’ve rolled your clothes, put them in packing cubes – another space saver.

10. When You Go Out, Take Only What You Need

You should limit the amount of cash and bank cards you carry with you, so if something does go wrong, you can easily recover.

11. Drink Responsibly

This has to be one of the most important safety tips for travelers. There is nothing wrong with exploring the local nightlife. However, keep in mind that it’s even more important to drink responsibly when abroad. When you are away from home, you are more likely to get lost or end up in a dangerous neighborhood. Keep an eye on your drink at all times and don’t accept any from strangers.

Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

12. Make Sure That You Know The Phone Number For The Emergency Services

Be sure to look up the emergency services number for your destination, even before you get there. It is also a good idea to look up the number for your home country’s nearest embassy before you leave. Save them in your phone, so you will have easy access to them in the event of an emergency.

What Are Your Travel Tips?

These are my top 12 travel tips to help you have a safe, enjoyable, and stress-free holiday. What is one travel tip you would give? I’d love to hear in the comments.

This post was written by Lauren, Bournemouth Girl. She is a creative and personal development blogger from Bournemouth, England. Lauren is a lover of travel among other things.