How COVID-19 will change travel: Longer immigration queues, health protocols to keep you safe, and more
It's a precarious time for the travel industry. Gone are the days of crowded airports and over-booked flights — empty departure halls and docked aircraft are the new normal as we know it. Some of us may even resort to travelling virtually through our screens, for fear of catching the virus. Since the moment we had to decide if our flights were essential or not, our plans have been in limbo while many airlines and hotels suffered huge losses in the aftermath. However, things have been slowly looking up around the world — with intercountry travel permitted in Malaysia as well as the upcoming announcement of Europe's bans being lifted.
But there's no such thing as being too careful — as what this year has taught us so far. Which is why it's no surprise that airlines and airport personnel are stepping up their precautionary measures to ensure everyone's safety. No one knows exactly when the travel industry is expected to recover from the effects of the pandemic, or when we'll be able to travel like we used to. But one thing is for certain — travel might not be the same, for a while. What we need to do is, yet again adapt to these long-term changes and do our part to be socially responsible. Here's what to expect when we're allowed to fly again.
Bring more than just your passport
There's a possibility that digital passports will be a thing of the near future, but before we get there, it's important that we don't miss out important documents and forms when we're leaving the country. Health declaration forms, immunisation forms, itineraries and more will be requested upon arrival and departure. Temporary visas and other documentation will also be needed while countries shift between closing and opening their borders.
Prepare for longer queues
Temperature screenings will be mandatory, so expect check-in and immigration to get a lot longer. Some countries will also test for infections at their borders upon arrival. With more documentation needed to enter and leave countries, personnel will have to take a longer time to check them. We recommend opting for self check-in before your flight to avoid these queues.
Find other ways to relax in-flight
On top of the health protocols and safety measures in place, such as consistently disinfecting planes, travellers will find that most in-flight services will be suspended for the time being. This includes magazines and reading material as well as alcohol service. The latter is to discourage passengers from removing their masks, which should only happen during meal times. Passengers will have to find other means of leisure and entertainment while on their flight with these new measures in place.
Change the way you pack
If you haven't already seen videos on Youtube and TikTok of people wiping down their airplane seats, know that they're doing it for good reason. Studies have shown that airplane seats are definitely not the cleanest places, so next time you happen to be travelling, remember to bring antibacterial wet wipes and hand sanitiser. Cabin baggage will also be limited due to social distancing measures, so make sure you pack light wherever you go.
The government has reminded its citizens to wear a mask whenever they're out — and this shouldn't change when you're leaving the country. Don on a face mask and be sure not to travel when you feel sick, just to be socially responsible towards other travellers. Planning ahead will also help — make sure you book flexible dates for your trips or look for hotels that have unlimited packages in the case of not being able to fly.