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
Photo by Asad Photo Maldives on Pexels.com

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.

Essential tips for essential travel

Airplane seats waiting and ready for boarding

Not everyone is ready to get back in the air, but many people still have trips they need to take. Travel is slowly increasing with essential travel leading the way. If you’re in that boat (or plane, actually) there are some things you should know before you go, i.e. essential tips for essential travel.

Most importantly, you should know that the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) has instituted several measures to ensure your security screening experience is as safe and secure as possible.

Wear A Face Covering

People travelling by plane from and within Canada need to bring their face covering. Face coverings need to cover the nose and mouth, be made of at least two layers of tightly-woven fabric (such as cotton or linen) and secured to the head. (Check out Public Health Agency of Canada’s guidelines, including instructions on how to make your mask.)

Use Hand Sanitizer When Out and About

At major airports, hand sanitizing units have been placed by the checkpoints to be used by the public. You can also have one bottle of hand sanitizer up to 355 mL in your carry-on – that is in addition to the 100 mL bottles that fall under the usual liquids’ restrictions. Keeping hands clean is especially important to help prevent the virus from spreading.

Screening Checkpoint at Security

Temperature screening at an airport in Canada

If you’re flying out of one of Canada’s 15 busiest airports, you’ll have your temperature checked when you arrive at the screening checkpoint. You will not be permitted to proceed through screening if your temperature, after two separate tests, is at or above 38⁰C. Note that if you exhibit symptoms of illness such as a cough or difficulty breathing, you will be required to leave the checkpoint.

While in the queue and the screening checkpoint, you must keep two metres between yourself and other passengers. Hold on to your own electronic or printed boarding pass or other documents of entitlement while they are scanned.

Travel Safely

Travel myths abound but the facts are the facts. Aviation is an essential service, ensuring people and goods get to where they need to go, and CATSA has taken every step possible to ensure this happens safely. You can go to their website for more information, or you can download their app for Android or iOS.

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8 common travel myths that are wrong

A man with a backpack ready to travel
Photo by Archie Binamira on Pexels.com

In 2020, the COVID-19 virus pandemic became a part of our reality. False information about the coronavirus can spread even faster than the virus itself. Almost every day, new myths are born and spread online in the blink of an eye – amongst them you will find plenty of common travel myths. With the right precaution measures, life must continue, as well as economic growth, so join us as we debunk some of these urban legends.

Time to move forward with our lives and our habits

The travel industry, much like every other industry, will persevere, though it too will need to adapt. With this article of 8 common travel myths, we will help you recognize false information about the virus. We’ll give you the knowledge you need to feel comfortable traveling again, safely, both for business and pleasure. 

Myth #1: If you’re traveling during this pandemic, you’re almost guaranteed to “catch” the virus

Fact: As long as you’re acting responsibly, taking the necessary precautions, and following the official instructions of the place(s) you’re in – your chances of catching the virus are minimal. The risk will of course always be there, but there’s a lot you can do to reduce the chances greatly.

Myth #2: All tourist attractions are closed due to the pandemic

Fact: In many cases, quite the opposite is true. With many people choosing to avoid traveling altogether, some of the places which are typically packed are now inviting visitors to explore them free from the usual crowd and noise. Neat discounts can be found too.

Myth #3: When traveling, wear a mask only indoors

Fact: You should wear your mask outdoors if you are visiting crowded places, parks, and public gatherings. You will protect others that way in case that you unknowingly have the virus, and vice-versa.

Hands holding a mask on a globe
Travel safely – wear your face mask to protect yourself and others

Myth #4: The COVID-19 virus cannot be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates or extremely cold climates

Fact: There is no scientific evidence to support that claim. While some viruses (like the flu) have their “seasons” depending on the climate, many others are not so easily affected by external temperature. What we do know so far is that Covid-19 has spread to nearly all countries in the world, regardless of their environment. Don’t count on the weather keeping you safe – keep yourself safe instead.

Myth #5: Airports and airplanes are dangerous, and the risk of infection there is high

This is among the most common travel myths, yet also happens to be among the least true. Every airline company and every airport in the world is constantly working on improving safety measures to protect their employees as well as every single passenger.

Fact 1: Due to the circulation and advanced air filtration systems on airplanes, the risk for virus transmission is very low. Did you know there is a complete changeover of air every two to three minutes in an airplane? Of course, you still must take care of hand hygiene and respect all protocols.  

An airport waiting area
All airports are employing physical distancing measures

Fact 2: Airports have UV cleaning technology, enhanced sanitization, and many contactless solutions for all needed procedures. Wear a mask and maintain physical distance as required. Airport staff will take your temperature and hand sanitizers will be available everywhere around you. Onboard announcements will remind you of the necessary protocols.

Myth #6: Travel insurance will not cover medical expenses in case you get infected in a foreign country. It will cost you a lot,  better not to travel at all.

Fact: Most major insurance companies are updating their travel insurance policies to cover a part or all of the costs if you get infected abroad. Ask your insurance provider to explain your rights and responsibilities regarding travel insurance. The most important thing (now more than ever) is to keep yourself healthy, physically as well as mentally. Don’t neglect your physical shape – exercise, and spend time outside in fresh air.

Myth #7: When traveling, restaurants and street food should be avoided – you should prepare your own food

Fact: Hygiene measures are always important wherever and however you choose to eat. If you enjoy preparing your own food even while traveling – go for it! But if you’re only doing it to avoid restaurants out of fear, think again. Restaurants and fast food joints have tons of rules and protocols they need to follow, especially now – they’d be out of business otherwise. Common logic still applies, so before ordering a meal or grabbing some street food, make sure the place looks clean and maintained and that all precautions are taken.

Myth #8: Travel will never be the same, coronavirus will destroy tourism industries

Fact: Freedom to travel is a crucial part and a key driver in the international post-pandemic recovery. Tourism will survive. Firstly, for economic reasons and secondly because of the unique joy of travel itself. There are numerous innovations and automation in travel procedures which are making travel easier, safer, more convenient, and more enjoyable.

The impact of COVID-19 on the travel industry is enormous, but every possible step is taken so that you can travel again while staying safe and protected.

Airline companies are now giving more affordable rates and more flexible fares than ever, to encourage people to travel again. They will offer you more flight change possibilities than before (even for free). Along with that, they offer refund possibilities if your plans change due to the impact of the virus, or vouchers for future travel. Even bus and train tickets are offered with many flexible solutions – so don’t hesitate to explore the conditions, and do not be afraid to ask questions before buying them.

After debunking common travel myths- pack your bags and go, the world awaits you 

With all this in mind, traveling now may feel safer than going to your local food store or partaking in any other daily activity. The air in a plane is probably cleaner than the one circulating in your office. Airplanes are usually cleaner than our own living space, as they are constantly and thoroughly cleaned with enhanced solutions – even before COVID-19.

If you’re still wondering whether it is the right time to travel again, remember this: the desire to travel is in our DNA and that can never change! Tourism can’t be stopped. Travel can’t be stopped. You, dear reader – can’t be stopped.

Signpost on the road
Traveling will help you relax and reduce stress

As the world opens for you again, you will also be more open to the world! Traveling will help you relax, reduce stress, and make unforgettable memories. You’ll have fun, see and do something new, strengthen relationships, learn more, grow, and eventually improve your life. So don’t be afraid to get out there!