Just as 9/11 led to tighter security at airports all around the world, Covid-19 is going to lead to massive changes in the way we fly.
Dubai’s national airline Emirates gave us a glimpse of the future last week when it became the first airline in the world to introduce testing for the coronavirus.
The rapid finger-prick tests were carried out by the Dubai Health Authority in the check in area of Dubai airport and results were announced within 10 minutes.
Emirates said the tests, which were only available to passengers travelling from Dubai to Tunisia, will be used on other flights to destinations that require Covid-19 test certificates.
Leaving aside how the airline was able to get the results so damned fast when, in the UK at least, test results aren’t available for days, it’s possible many destinations around the world could insist on passengers having Covid-19 certificates as a condition of entry.
So we might see more testing stations set up at airports along with other measures never seen before.
For instance, Emirates is now insisting that all passengers and staff wear masks, both in the airport and on the plane, and employees must also wear gloves. The airline has installed protective barriers at check-in desks to provide additional safety for both passengers and employees.
The airline has also restricted hand luggage to laptop bags, handbags, briefcases and baby items, and the inflight food and drink service has been modified to reduce crew-to-passenger contact. Actually, I’m not even sure how passengers can eat and drink anything on Emirates’ flights since they must wear masks, which they have to provide themselves.
EasyJet has also announced possible changes to its service when flights resume, including removing the middle seat on aircraft to allow more social distancing, and carrying out thorough disinfecting of planes between flights. The reduction in the number of passengers per flight is likely to lead to higher air fares, if not immediately, then certainly in the future.
No doubt further changes will emerge in the coming weeks once countries start to ease lockdown measures and things return to a new sort of normal.