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5 Ways Airlines Are Coping During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Every industry has felt some impact from the COVID-19 pandemic, but one of the most affected industries was air travel. Much of consumer air traffic was halted for several months of the pandemic, and the amount of travelers is still low compared to prep-pandemic numbers. Here are five ways airlines are coping during the pandemic.

1. Adapting To Social Distancing

Airplanes and airports aren't places where social distancing is easy to implement, but airlines have been helping to ensure social distancing guidelines are followed as much as possible. Most airlines have placed windows between check-in and baggage drop-off kiosks to protect customers and employees. Many have changed their boarding processes so customers can get on the plane while adhering to social distancing guidelines. At the beginning of the pandemic, many airlines also blocked off middle seats to increase distance between travelers. Some airlines have reversed this policy as the pandemic continues, because reducing the number of available seats reduces the number of tickets an airline can sell.

2. Personalizing the Customer Experience

Customer centric business practices are key to how airlines are coping with the pandemic. Not everyone on a flight is going to be traveling for the same reason. For example, a flight to florida may have families on trips to amusement parks, people traveling for work and people planning to go to beaches or visit family. Each of these travelers is going to have a different stress level and different needs, so airlines are working to improve the flying experience for each customer. Airlines can provide plenty of information regarding how they're keeping travelers safe and healthy during the pandemic and personalizing all points of contact with customers, from initial advertising to customer service. They can also train employees to expect and deal with varying levels of stress among travelers.

3. Adhering To Government Guidance and Medical Advice

All airlines are making sure they follow CDC guidance to minimize the spread of COVID-19. The CDC updates its guidelines and recommendations regularly, so airlines, along with many other industries, are doing their best to keep up. Face coverings are required on flights, with some exceptions, such as those with medical conditions which prevent them from being able to wear face coverings. Personalization is vital here, as there are different guidelines for vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers. Vaccinated travelers, for example, are not required to get a test taken before flying unless they're flying internationally and their destinations require it. Unvaccinated flyers, meanwhile, should get tested three days before traveling and again after returning.

4. Adopting Touchless Technology

Touchless technology has been implemented in greater numbers than ever before to help protect people at airports and on airplanes. This technology is one of the methods airlines are using to keep those protective precautions in place while they start making middle seats available again. Using phone apps rather than credit cards or cash to pay for in-flight transactions, for example, can greatly minimize the contact required between customers and employees. There are also touchless thermometers available that can take travelers' temperatures from a safe distance. These thermometers can be installed at airport security, customs or when passengers board or disembark from the plane.

5. Improving Cleaning and Sanitizing Protocols

The majority of airlines have implemented more stringent and frequent cleaning and sanitizing protocols in the wake of the pandemic. Frequently touched areas, such as lavatories, seatbelt buckles, seat screens, seat trays, armrests, kiosks and catering products are sanitized multiple times each day. Airplanes are subjected to frequent electrostatic spraying or fogging disinfectants approved by the EPA so all surfaces, soft or hard, can be adequately disinfected.

Like all other industries, the air travel industry has had to come up with multiple strategies to adapt to a world still gripped by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of these strategies include improved cleanliness and new technology to support social distancing measures. Others are focused on maximizing returns on investments and retaining customer relationships.

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