No single industry experienced more disruptions to its normal routine, perhaps, than the airline industry. When governments around the world simultaneously sealed their borders last year, the reverberating effects hit the airlines first and hardest, virtually bringing their entire operations to a standstill.
Since then, not much has changed. Much of the world remains closed. The vaccine rollout of 2021 has sparked hope, however, of a resumption of some semblance of normalcy in terms of the movement of people. International travel will likely never be the same again, but it will exist in a new form as we move forward.
COVID-19 Travel Apps
Passengers might be required in the future to install and use travel apps that track their movements, One program in particular, Common Pass, has begun to see wider interest after it was piloted recently in a successful Transatlantic trial run. Several airlines, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies throughout the world are collaborating to develop universal travel apps that will allow large volumes of passengers to pass smoothly through customs and other international checkpoints.
A Surge in Family Trips
One of the more interesting effects of the COVID-19 social distancing and travel shutdowns from a sociological perspective is that it cut off huge numbers of people from their homelands. Travelers who were working or visiting a foreign country when COVID-19 hit have spent nearly a year separated from their kin. The surge in demand for repatriation flights (special trips returning people to their home countries) has also carved out new international travel routes due to the need for creative workarounds during the shutdown.
COVID-19 actually did some good for the travel industry from a passenger perspective in terms of positive changes to booking and refund policies. Due to the uncertainty and ever-changing border and travel restrictions in the early days of the pandemic, the airlines responded by offering tickets with a standard flexibility guarantee. So, if you book your flight but are unable to board because of a positive COVID test or another unexpected development, you won’t be out of your ticket.
The changes to the airline industry post-COVID are too many to list here. Even more are on the horizon. Stay tuned for the latest developments in the industry airline as it adapts to the new reality of travel.