5 Ways the Airport Experience Will Change Post COVID-19
Updated: Jun 29, 2020
There’s no question that everything is in the midst of a great shift to protect our health. From loads of hand sanitizer to all sorts of masks, our everyday routines have gotten a bit more precautionary. Sure, the extra steps at the airport will be annoying but it’s better to be safe than sorry. In my opinion, all the changes are here to stay – meaning, we will not go back to the way “things were” and honestly, I don’t think that’s so bad.
A couple weeks ago I joined a webinar hosted by SITA called “Returning to the Skies: Redefining the Passenger Experience in a Post-Covid World” with leaders from international airports including, Rome and Costa Rica, as well as leaders from SITA’s Executive Board. The information presented was representative of all the changes that Rome International Airport has made/will be implementing but I can imagine that many airports (especially in Europe) will follow suit.
The overarching theme in this webinar was centered around TECHNOLOGY and how the advancements will make for a more sanitary and healthy airport/travel experience. Here are the top 5 changes you can see as you begin traveling again (based on feedback from SITA’s Executive Council):
1.) THERMAL SCANNERS – The purpose of thermal scanners will be to detect symptomatic travelers and deter passengers with fever to travel. They will be long distance, non-contact, so large flows of people can be scanned quickly. As you can see in the photo, there will be blackbody real-time calibration. They also mentioned the introduction of Smart Helmets, which will be portable Thermal Scanners (Reference: SITA). By having this information, airport management can make better decisions with real-time data.
2.) SANITATION – Cleanliness in ALL areas of the airport will be crucial in the post-covid travel phase. Sanitization of handrails will be conducted through LED lamps producing UV rays. Hand sanitizer gel dispensers will be available in all areas of the airport (Reference: SITA). Any baggage held will be sanitized before passengers collect it. Let’s be honest, majority of us are already walking around with hand sanitizer 24/7 so it’s no biggie –
but it’s good to know that sanitizer will be more accessible in public areas in the airport.
3.) HYGIENE ISLANDS – These innovative labs will sanitize passengers and allow for temperature and mask screening (not sure if this is 100% mandatory). This will be one of the first passenger check points as they enter the airport.
4.) TOUCHLESS JOURNEY – By enhancing each airport check point with touchless steps, it will allow for LESS people touching public kiosks and there will be a focus on personal mobile capabilities. Sebastien Fabre, Vice-President Airline & Airport at SITA, indicated that in San Francisco Airport, they use ‘SITA Flex’ which enables a full mobile and touchless passenger journey; meaning travelers can print bag tags from their mobile phone on self-service bag points.
5.) PASSENGER MANAGEMENT – Data and analytics will be crucial in passenger flow at all airports. By focusing on predictive analytics, it will support more proactive planning (ensuring appropriate distancing between passengers at key points across the airport) (Reference SITA). By fully understanding the areas where flow increases, precautionary measurements can take place to minimize foot traffic and bottlenecks – of course, signage will be more prevalent throughout airports as well.
Overall, these implementations will greatly assist in keeping the passenger journey safe – it’s reassuring to know that such quick action has already taken place worldwide. Although building confidence back up for travelers may be a slow process, it’s important to know that the right procedures are being implemented.
Sebastien Fabre, Vice-President Airline & Airport SITA, said it perfectly, “Our industry must transform the passenger experience to increase traveler safety while balancing economic pressures from slow customer demand. To successfully walk this tightrope and navigate a return to the skies for viable volumes of passengers, airports and airlines need to assimilate new information from governments and health officials, adapt operations immediately and automate processes permanently.”
Majority of European borders are opening effective July 1st but also if you’re coming from a highly infected country and (WE ARE highly infected in U.S.) then the respective country may mandate you to self-quarantine for 2 weeks.
As of June 25th, there are 25 countries with zero restrictions and 117 countries completely closed. To check on specific countries and updates, please visit this website.
Hope you are feeling a bit more confident in the 'passenger journey' to wherever your heart takes you! See you in the sky.