Touchless Travel Technology Interventions in Air Travel

Airlines industry has the reputation to be among the first to adopt innovative technological interventions. How quickly airlines will be able to restore confidence among the travelers will depend, among other factors, how airlines use technology to meet this end? The way tech interventions have been used and will be used in future in response to this Covid 19 has changed the way pandemics are handled on mass scale. This means that the technology companies which are directly involved in providing technology solutions to airlines and/or airports will be required to put their creative minds to work. And, these companies are already responding to this vital need of the airlines now.

One of these companies is Elenium Technologies which is based in Australia. It is a leader in the usage of touchless technology that finds multiple uses at airports. Recently, it was in news for developing special kiosk machines which not only provide touchless check-in facility but are also able to monitor the temperature and heart rate of the person. It can make these checks on health of the person from a distance of 1.5 meters. This self-service touchless device will automatically suspend the process if the vital parameters are not found to be okay. It can be placed at various touch points at airport, such as kiosks, baggage drop counters, immigration and security check points. These act as screening stations for detecting Covid 19 patients.

Another important innovation done by Elenium is to develop ‘hands free’ technologies which work on voice recognition in multiple languages and head movement detection. These interventions can be used during the check-in process for all self-service devices which will minimize the risk of transmission of virus.

These technologies are being tested in the real life situations where there are many passengers a lot more noise. However, technological innovations like these are expected to be the new normal in times to come. These will also go a long way in inspiring confidence among people to take to skies once again. Technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning will be used for varied purposes.


How Will Air Travel Change After Covid-19?

One industry which has been hardest hit due to the Covid-19 outbreak is hospitality industry, which includes the airlines as well. Due to its very nature that it can silently cause infection which can remain asymptomatic for many days and which can be deadly, all such economic activity which requires person to person interaction has been halted world over for over weeks. Nations have imposed lockdowns, people are required to self-isolate and quarantine and strict laws have been enacted to implement the same. People have been asked to observe self-hygiene, wear masks, do social distancing and take all steps necessary for prevention of spread. Quite naturally, economies have been hit hard. Demand has dropped worldwide. Confidence of the people in person-to-person interactions has shaken. All avoidable interactions will be avoided. The same will also remain true for the airlines.

There is a big question mark over how the people will behave when it comes to taking a flight. The airline will have to do much to inspire confidence among the people. This will take some time but our creative ad agencies are capable of sending the right communication through mass media. However, in addition to spreading the right messages, the airlines will have to prepare the ground work in the changed circumstances. It would be for their own benefit to make the changes as business is not going to be usual for a long time. The new normal will have to be set. In future, those airlines will be preferred for travel which prove to be best in terms of providing safety against virus and infections.

Airlines will not be alone in setting this new normal. Airport authorities have to chip-in as well. Passengers first arrive at airport. There are certain common facilities which airport authorities provide. Whether it is the parking lots, waiting lounges, restrooms, lifts, escalators, shops, check-in kiosks, ATM machines and other areas, airport authorities have to step up infection prevention.

FOUR MOST IMPORTANT CHANGES

  • Liberal use of sanitizers
  • Mandatory wearing of masks by all-passengers, airport authorities, airline staff and everyone.
  • Follow social distancing norms
  • Reduction in usage of paper as far as possible

Parking-lots

  • Facility-level spraying of disinfectants
  • Once a new car is parked, it shall be sanitized.
  • Trolleys for carriage of baggage shall be sanitized after every use.
  • Wearing mask compulsory from parking lot itself. Entry to parking to be allowed only after ensuring that passenger and companion puts on mask.
  • Provision to give masks right at the parking lot in case the passenger has forgotten to bring one.

Airport Entry/Exit

  • Sanitization of passenger hands.
  • Social distancing for parking cars (markings for car parks).
  • Thermal scanning for temperature.
  • Sanitization of trolleys and baggage.
  • Downloading and activation of contact tracing mobile apps for respective countries.
  • Thermal scanners for people entering or exiting airports.

Airport Common Areas

  • Frequent sanitization and deep cleaning.
  • Social distancing norms for seating or standing.

Check-in and Security Clearances

  • Social distancing norms to be followed while in queues.
  • Kiosks installed with thermal scanners.
  • Countries might mandate “Covid-19 Free” certification before air travel.
  • There might be introduction of Rapid Tests at airports, provided these have high level of accuracy. This might be a good way to avoid people getting quarantined mandatorily after arrival.

Inside Airplanes

The cabin experience inside the airplanes is also likely to change in the wake of this outbreak.

  • Car seats might come with a protective plastic or glass sheet that would keep two passengers seated next to each other separated.

avio interiors seat design

  • Passengers would be allowed to bring their own meals.
  • Sanitizers might be provided on-board and the restrictions on personal carriage of these liquids inside cabin would remain as before.
  • Pet travel might be restricted or curtailed in short term inside cabin and there might be a need of Covid 19 certification from the vet for allowing travel.
  • There might be a revision of policies pertaining to special needs passengers as the high risk ones might not be allowed to fly.
  • You might find cabin crew wearing protective gear or full suits made of protective clothing. AirAsia has introduced on as shown below:

airasia cabin crew protective dress

 

(Disclaimer: The ideas expresses in this article are of the author himself. These may or may not be implemented by the airlines.)


What Are Charges for Delta Airlines Flight Changes?

Delta has waived off the flight change charges for all flights departing in March and till September 30, 2020. This waiver is also applicable for all tickets booked between March 1 and May 31, 2020.

If changes to flights or tickets are done during the “24 hours Risk Free period”, there is no charge for the tickets and just the fare difference is to be paid.

After this “24-hour Risk Free Period” changes to Base Economy Fare tickets are not permitted. For non-refundable tickets on other classes, change invites charges of $200-500 and the fare difference is to be paid as well. For refundable tickets, there is no charge and only fare difference is to be paid.

If flight or ticket change is to be done within 24 hours of flight departure time, it is not allowed in Basic Economy ticket but can be done for refundable and non-refundable tickets on other classes on condition that seats are available and by paying charges starting from $75.