The rapid spread of the Covid-19 pandemic has brought a dramatic impact on all industries, including air travel. As passenger traffic has drastically reduced due to fear , airlines and industry experts are coming together to relook at the way health and safety of passengers can be brought to the forefront in these COVID times.
A recent WSJ article showcased the predictions of airline industry experts about the changes in air travel post COVID crisis. The article consolidates the opinions and recommendations of 8 industry veterans to give us a picture of how air travel will look like after coronavirus.
Interestingly, a passenger insights report published by Clootrack, has predicted exactly the same, and with such great precision!!
“Something that the Clootrack AI predicted a while ago, it was great to get affirmation from industry experts,” says @SubkrishnaRao, CTO and Co-Founder of Clootrack.
When Clootrack analyzed thousands of online conversations of airport passengers, it came to light that the priorities of airport passengers have shifted quite significantly after the pandemic – and all this matched exactly with what the industry experts have to say
1. Security, passport and custom lines
In the WSJ article, veteran airline experts said that airport security checkpoints, passport and custom lines will get redesigned to ensure a smooth passport passenger experience. See an extract from the article that shows how the veterans are predicting impact on airports.
And Clootrack, with such precision, has predicted that the first and foremost adoption driver for a passenger to return to the airport is the smooth security screening process.
Passengers are looking forward to a minimum person-to-person contact. Security screening involves interaction between passengers and the security operators. It also includes numerous surface touch such as the trays, boarding pass and passports. But this does not mean lesser importance to security checks thereby compromising on security. This is where passengers will demand contactless screening.
Experts are predicting that airports might have to enable video links to process international travelers instead of going through the passport control lines when they arrive into an airport.
2. Health, protection and hygiene
In the WSJ article, Ray LaHood, U.S. former transportation secretary says that right now the most important thing that the government needs to do is to reassure worried passengers that strict safety rules will be imposed, and health screening will be the top priority.
This will help to rebuild passenger confidence. He goes on to say that wearing masks and checking the temperature of passengers will be utmost important to build confidence among the airport passengers. He points out that it is important to reassure people by by addressing their health concerns.
“If I were secretary, I’d be requiring temperature checks before anybody boards a plane and requiring all people wear masks,” says Mr. LaHood.
This is exactly what Clootrack discovered as its second most important adoption driver for airports post COVID. Protecting health and maintaining hygiene were on top of passengers’ minds.
Airport passengers have to shift between a minimum of 2 airports during their journey, and this is where passengers feel most vulnerable as they spend more time waiting.
Passengers are urging that airports should promote health protection measures such as wearing masks, social distancing, preventing infected people from flying, and providing sanitizers and soap dispensers. From these passenger conversations it is very clear that airports need to be taking measures to protect the health and hygiene during a passengers journey.
3. Refund policies
In addition to all the health and safety precautions, passengers are also looking forward for clarity in cancellation and refund policies.
In the WSJ article, Matthew Upchurch, CEO of Virtuoso, a network of luxury travel agencies says, “The lack of clarity on airline and hotel refund policies has inhibited travelers as well.”
It is highlighted in the article the Virtuoso agencies had found through a poll that passengers are looking forward for relaxed cancellation policies. In fact clear cancellation policies are considered more important while booking trips than a vaccine according to the Virtuoso agency poll. The below extract from the WSJ article will bring more clarity.
This exactly matches with Clootrack prediction, when it discovered ‘Ease of cancellation and refund policy’ as its third most important adoption driver for airports post COVID.
Due to COVID-19 many airlines are cancelling the scheduled flights. Passengers express their opinion that they need clarity in cancellation policies. They appreciate if there is an email or any other form of communication about the refund process giving them clarity on the options and the timelines. When a passenger sees quick and prompt action from the airlines, their loyalty is bound to shoot up.
When you see the below passenger conversations, it shows that passengers are talking about cancellations and refunds and are expecting clear and fast communication.
A passenger goes on to say, “We were given confusing directions on Vat Refund in Terminal 2, and when we tried to get a refund at the office near H30, the officer’s impolite attitude and unkind way of speaking made us feel disgusted”, says a passenger who feels terrible about the entire refund process.
Airline operators across the globe are re looking at business strategies to lead their business through and after the crisis. The opinions and recommendations from industry experts is certainly going to make a difference for airline operators. At the same time, the feedback from passengers will be of paramount importance for laying the future strategies for the airport.
The adoption drivers derived by Clootrack depicts the voice of the passengers who are the people who will visit airports once the lock downs are lifted. If the passengers need to feel safe and secure in an airport, the airport operators will have to analyze each of the adoption drivers and adhere to their demands.