5 ways to rethink airline boarding process in the age of sanitised travel

In less than 3 months the novel coronavirus outbreak has transformed the way we travel. Many protection aspects have already been added and many more are yet to be implemented. No doubt that some of the new measures, like wearing masks and gloves might be a temporary thing until the dust settles.

Some of the new areas that we have described in our latest report “The Rise of Sanitised Travel” are likely to stay and have a significant impact on the aviation industry long-term. 

Sanitised travel, boarding process, simpliflying

Timeline of the new passengers’ journey from the time of check-in until boarding the plane. Welcome to the age of sanitised travel!

One of the stages that can benefit long-term from enhanced sanitisation measures is the boarding process. We see that until now, sanitising the passenger journey has been mostly managed by airports. For example, Changi Airport in Singapore has introduced new measures and cleaning techniques against COVID-19, going as far as spraying touchscreen panels with disinfectant coating and cleaning toilet floors with ozone-infused water.

Other airports are promoting social distancing, especially in the boarding area and food courts. In the long-term, however, it will affect the capacity of terminal areas.

The critical question for airports and airlines becomes how to limit the spread of potential viruses in the future as traffic returns to the pre-COVID-19 levels.

Here we have outlined 5 ideas for making the boarding process more sanitise-friendly.

Touchless vending machines in the boarding area

In the age of sanitised travel, we can expect to have major changes for inflight meals. Gone will be the days when the crew came by to serve multi-course fresh meals in premium cabins. Now, passengers will have to get used to having a prepacked, sealed meal to prevent any viruses from getting in the food.

Touchless vending machines in the boarding area would enable passengers to choose fresh food before the flight by using their smartphones and purchasing it using mobile pay. This would give travellers the choice to consume their meals in-flight or pre-departure. 

Individual notifications for boarding

Individual boarding notifications via airline apps is a relatively new feature that few airlines, like American Airlines and Delta, had started exploring not long before COVID-19. We expect this trend to expand significantly in the age of sanitised travel.

To avoid people gathering at the boarding area, only those passengers who will have received their notification will be allowed to proceed. For it to work, it will be important to have free WIFI in the boarding area. 

New priority group: essential travellers

Re-thinking boarding groups is another way to organise the boarding procedure. Recently, a new concept of “essential” has emerged, and we believe that it will turn into a new category.

The new boarding group for “Essential travellers” would focus on people who are required to travel, and who would need to get an essential travel certificate from their company or authority like the state government. These might be doctors or nurses or any people who need to travel. 

This would also enable that those who must travel would be able to access lower fares while those who need not travel that much would be still using their discretion to decide whether to travel or not.

Final checks at the boarding gate

With the rise of sanitised travel, things will change also in one of the last stages before stepping on a plane: the boarding gate. WizzAir just released a beautiful video of enhanced health and safety where they also showcase passengers self-scanning their boarding passes.

We believe that with time this process will be improved to include the last temperature check and even reveal results from health assessments done at the check-in. This would mean that any passenger who returns an abnormal health assessment will be denied boarding.

The new advanced Jetbridge

The JetBridge is currently a tightly packed space, with passengers standing close together, just waiting to get on board. In the age of sanitised travel, the JetBridge will also comply with social distancing requirements.

It will serve as the perfect space for a disinfection tunnel, ensuring that every single passenger stepping onboard has been properly disinfected and are not carrying anything other than their luggage on the flight.


Rapid Response Team - SimpliFlying - The Rise of Sanitised Travel - Covid-19

SimpliFlying has set up a Rapid Response Team to help airlines be ready for post-corona travel’s realities. The team has been holding Board-level briefings to orient executives with the new touchpoints. We will be happy to do a 30-minute call with your executive team to run through the detailed post-corona customer journey map. In order to help the industry, these calls are free for airlines and airports. Get in touch to set up a call.

Baiba Dreimane

Baiba Dreimane

Project Manager at SimpliFlying
Baiba Dreimane manages SimpliFlying's digital products and consulting projects to guide airlines through their concerns. She joined the team in 2016 and has since managed a multitude of projects internationally, including research and consulting projects for SimpliFlying's global clients, Airline Marketing Innovation Labs in places like Miami, Singapore and London, SimpliFlying's Annual Awards in London, among other projects. With a deep interest in digital innovation and design, she has tried her hand at founding a MarTech startup and has created one of the top travel micro-influencer profiles in Valencia, Spain, where she resides now.
Baiba Dreimane
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