Optimist? Planning Travel During Summer 2020? 8 Things To Consider
The new epicentre of the Covid-19 epidemic appears to be in South America. Elsewhere, governments around the world are gradually relaxing Covid-19 lock down restrictions. Are you on the optimistic camp and still planning travel during Summer 2020? Major airlines have now also announced restarting services to key destinations. You may be wandering what travel will look like in the near immediate/near future? One thing we can say for sure, things will not be the same! Here’s a low down…
Fewer Flights & Less Destinations
Those airline that will be flying will be doing so on only key routes, determined by the airlines markets. The frequency will also be revised down on those key routes.
Even as most major airlines will not be deploying their biggest jets, the flights are most likely to be running well under capacity.
Bare Bones Airport Experience
How you even get to the airport may not be the same. But once you do, it will be far from the usual hustle and bustle we are all so used to. The face of airports will be different, with visible markings to keep distancing, hand sanitising stations, facemasks and gloves may be imposed as well as temperature checking etc. To reduce contact points, expect more automation. That includes self-check in and bag drops.
I am not sure airport infrastructure around the world can handle the new reality of social distancing with anywhere near the previous levels of traffic. Airports and airlines will no doubt work together to find inventive ways to cope as traffic gradually increases. Innovation has a habit of flourishing in times of crisis.
For now there will be probably be few retail options, or dining options in many airports.
Extra vigilance and keeping your distance is the new normal!
Most airlines will not be opening their lounges for at least the next few weeks. Maybe through the entire summer. And with airlines like BA looking for extra opportunity for cost cuts, that will be no surprise.
Onboard Service Changes/Reductions
Many of us fly premium in the pointy end not just for more space and privacy (which is surely a godsend in this climate) but also for the pampering onboard service.
Well, sadly some airlines are maxing out this situation to their advantage. All in the name of safety off course! Some airlines you absolutely should not be flying premium right now is the likes of British Airways or Turkish. Turkish Airlines will only offer cold boxed meals even on the long haul flights. KLM is also serving cold sandwiches and bottled drinks in Business class. British Airways is offering just cold sandwiches and bottles of water in First Class? Could B.A? I don’t even know where to start with its disgraceful behaviour towards its own staff. Maybe I will save that for another post!
On the other end of the spectrum, Qatar Airways will largely be retaining a similar meal service to what you may be used to now. Only difference seems to be they will be serving you once with everything on a tray rather than individually plated and served courses. Emirates and Etihad will still be offering a very premium service. Etihad has introduced the concept of Wellness Ambassadors distributed to reassure and keep passengers fully informed on health and hygiene matters.
Lufthansa and Swiss have also announced very minimal changes to Business class and almost no difference to their First class service. Swiss, Etihad, Virgin Atlantic and others will be offering new Travel Hygiene Kits, with masks, gloves and antibacterial wipes & hand sanitizers.
I understand the need for additional safely measures and minimising staff contact. But serving a cold box is no different to serving a tray with perhaps pre-prepared hot meals and cold add ones. Also as far as safely is concerned, what is the difference between serving a beer or pouring wine/champagne as opposed to just pouring water? By all means limit the alcohol intake so passenger remain situationally aware at all times.
Is Your Destination Likely To Let You In?
Countries are beginning to open their boarders. Just not to everyone. Countries can still unilaterally impose travel/entry bans of citizens from other countries. You need to check this before travelling.
On landing health declarations will form part of the experience. Would you require health certificate of some kind? Maybe you will have to take a test on landing.
UK FCO Still Advises Against All But Essential Travel
What does this mean? Well essential would probably be an emergency in the strictest sense here, i.e not the Dominic Cummings kind of road trip! We don’t yet have any indication of when this might be lifted/changed.
Until then, your travel insurance is null and void. So thread carefully. Maybe speak to your insurance company before you fly out to discuss your emergency.
Quarantine Once You Get To Destination
U.K now has a 14 day quarantine in place for all international travellers arriving at its ports (bar Ireland). Perhaps in desperation to be seen to be in control the coronavirus situation, the U.K government decides now is the time to implement a blanket quarantine on everyone entering the U.K. Really? Now?
Words just cannot describe how ill-judged and ineffective this is. But I don’t know why I am surprised.
The current U.K government and cabinet is formed purely for one task, and one task only. Brexit. This tragically inept government is entirely hopeless running the 5th largest economy in the world in normal times, much less handling a major global pandemic in its shores.
It was one of few countries that decided not to bother carrying out any checks on the hundreds of thousands that have entered the country through February/March, when such a plan would have had the most positive impact in controlling the spread. Now that Brits are more at risk at home of catching this virus than the typical holiday destinations they might visit, the government is imposing a blanket self isolation period. Yes many experts believe we would actually be safer is most other places in Europe/Asia than we would be at home! I was hoping they would soon realise when this comes into contract with reality and backtrack. Alas, its now in affect as planned. Go figure!
At a time when airlines and the whole aviation industry is on its knees from the aftermath of this pandemic spreading like wildfire we have now decided to stop the spread from countries that are statistically less likely to infect us. That being said, it is still possible other countries may yet implement such blanket policies.
There are discussions of air bridges/safe travel corridors that is a smarter way to handle this and some countries already have implemented such bridges. I believe eventually, the U.K would go down that route.
Be Aware Of Your Options If Plans Change
If you are booking completely new travel, be sure to check all your options before you commit your money to the airline. Check your change/refund options and then find out how this airline has been behaving with refunds in the recent past rather than just take their word.
Many airlines have been giving passengers the run around with their refunds, or in some cases even failing to acknowledge passengers rights. I requested a refund from Virgin for my Boston trip, which on reflection I no longer wanted to re-book. There was a sizeable backlog of trips to reschedule including other trips I had already booked for 2020. I was initially told it would take 2 weeks. Then I was told 45 days. Then I was hearing anecdotal evidence of 90 days processing times. 90 is almost approaching and I still have no sign or indication of when this is happening.
I understand many airlines have been financially strained but why is their finances more important than yours? Is it right that airlines get to keep your money as it suits them, in effect giving them an interest free loan?
Travel During Summer 2020 Overall Thoughts
I still plan to travel in August (some flights I have already rescheduled twice from May). Borders and schedules will no doubt be constantly evolving. I will still assess the situation the days before and reschedule if need be (and still possible). If you are too, do bare above in mind and choose your airlines and destinations wisely! We all have a responsibility to keep ourselves and each other safe. But we cannot live our lives in fear and stop doing what we do and love.