The rise of sanitised post-covid-19 travel – parallels with post-9/11 travel

We have released our latest report called “The Rise of Sanitised Travel”, where we have detailed over 70 different areas in the passenger journey that are expected to either change or to be introduced from scratch, to restore confidence in flying after COVID-19. We believe travel is set to change just as dramatically as it did after 9/11. Here are a few parallels we spotted.

Virus-free travel

9/11 changed to travel completely with added security checks and longer check-in times. The impact of COVID-19 on air travel will be even more far-reaching when it comes to sanitation and cleanliness. After 9/11, just like people did not want to fly with weapons on-board a plane, after COVID-19, they would want a virus-free aircraft. This would result in even longer check-in times and a new layer for “health checks”.

Previously, passengers and those dropping them off could arrive 1-3 hours prior to departure. In the age of sanitised travel, only those travelling will be allowed to enter the airport, at least 4 hours prior to departure. Before they can be allowed in the departure area, they will either need to show their immunity passport or go through a disinfection tunnel and thermal scanners. Only if they are deemed “fit to fly” will they be allowed in.

Bring in the THA

Everyone flying in the US has heard of the TSA. Coming next, look out for the THA. The Transport Health Authority will need to ensure that passengers are screened before entering the airport. These operations need to happen curbside.

We strongly believe there needs to be one single authority sets global standards in the airport and on the flight –  this will have to be managed by ICAO, the WHO and ACI.  In an ideal situation, we want consistent health screenings and policies around the world because inconsistency will only frustrate travellers more and suppress demand.

In-flight janitors

After 9/11 many airlines introduced in-flight Sky Marshalls. Post COVID-19 we could see the introduction of the in-flight janitor, who especially on longer flights, will keep the cabin clean, especially high-touch areas like toilet door handles. Airlines like Emirates already has cabin crew specialized in cleaning the showers onboard its A380. Now, visible efforts towards cabin sanitation will need to be as it becomes a brand differentiator (like Delta Clean).

Travel will never be the same after COVID-19. Just like it changed forever, after 9/11.  Airline brands will need to adapt to ensure as pleasant an experience as possible, given the changes that are coming.


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.

Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam is a globally sought-after consultant, speaker and thought leader on airline branding and customer engagement strategy. He is the Founder and CEO of SimpliFlying, one of the world’s largest aviation marketing firms working with over 85 aviation clients in the last ten years. Nigam is also the youngest winner of the Global Brand Leadership Award and has addressed senior executives globally, from Chile to China. Nigam’s impassioned and honest perspectives on airline marketing have found their way to over 100 leading media outlets, including the BBC, CNBC, Reuters and Bloomberg, and into leading publications such as The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. He writes a dedicated monthly column in Flight’s Airline Business, challenging the typical assumptions about airline marketing. His new book on airline marketing, SOAR, is an Amazon bestseller that’s shaking up the industry and inspiring other industries to learn from the best airlines. Born in India, raised in Singapore, he now lives with his wife and two young daughters in Toronto.
Shashank Nigam
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