I read and heard so much about how different it is to fly during the time of COVID-19. Safety regulations, additional processes, and additional restrictions are just a few examples. However, as an aviation lover, I was looking forward to my first flight after many months so very much. Here’s what I observed and all details you have to know when planning to fly!
Flying in Times of Covid-19 — I am Ready!
Remember when I told you about my first experience traveling on a train after the lockdown? Well, now I want to share with you my first experience traveling by plane during the time of COVID-19. The night before our flight, I had feelings similar to when I was a child, a bit of excitement, and anxious about the journey. I was wondering how everything was going to be. I was curious to see how the different touchpoints adjusted, such as check-in and baggage drop-off, security control, boarding, etc. But above all, I was so much looking forward to flying again!
Better Earlier, Because you Never Know
I arrived at the airport a bit longer than two hours in advance, because my theory of ‘better earlier, because you never know’ hit me since the night before. What if processes are taking longer? If now I have to go through three or four more stops before arriving at the gate? What if the queue is enormous because of temperature checks, etc.
When I arrived, let’s say I had a sweet and sour feeling. The airport was almost empty, many stores closed, and missed the massive number of people queueing for the baggage drop. Of course, as a member of the industry, it made me sad to realize people are still afraid of flying. However, on the other side, I could enjoy every step of the process detailing how things have changed.
Flying During Times of Covid-19 — The Customer Journey from my perspective
I am going to detail the steps and changes I perceived during the process.
1 — General
Disinfection stations located throughout the terminal (hand wash and disinfectants) and mask requirements during all moments inside the airport.
2 — Check-in
We did the check-in via mobile app, and immediately we received the security recommendations for our journey, especially the mask requirements and indications for the entire flight.
3 — Baggage Drop-Off
The process has not changed. Social distancing is mandatory for passengers, but further than this, it was very smooth and fast.
4 — Security Control
For security control, I was wondering how this would be. In this case, I would say it was also very fast, many different lanes open, to avoid bottlenecks and passengers getting close to each other and floor marks indicating the social distancing positions. On the other hand, the only new process that I perceived was showing your face to the security staff for a few seconds to validate there are no elements hidden under it.
We went to one of the open restaurants. Even though we had to queue, finding a place was comfortable. We saw how every time a table was available, and the staff took care of disinfecting the table, chairs, and elements around immediately.
Available seating places are labeled to avoid close contact between passengers. Of course, this reduces the number of seats and therefore, make sure to make it to the gate on time if you want to have a seat.
During boarding procedures, all passengers are once again informed they require to wear a mask during all times of the flight and to avoid any contact with passengers, the first ones to board the aircraft were the ones sitting on the back compartment and so on. As you know, before it was First or Business Class passengers, followed by priority and then from back to the front of the cabin. As soon as we boarded the plane, the crew provided each of the passengers with Antibacterial gel and a disinfectant wipe towel. Cabin Crew is wearing a mask and gloves during the entire flight.
8 — In-flight
As it was a short-haul flight, within Europe, the Cabin Crew Service for food and drinks was suspended, also for purchase.
In this case, I was a bit surprised. Passengers acted, as always. Not thinking about any social distancing, just queueing as fast as possible to leave the aircraft. (I have to confess it made me a bit happy to see some things will never change)
10 — Baggage Claim
At the arrival airport, I was impressed by the number of disinfectants stands located during the whole way from leaving the plane until the Exit, every 2m approx., were Sanitizer dispensers to be used by all passengers.
The Covid-19 Test After Return
On my way back, I decided to register for a COVID-19 Test provided by the government to travelers upon their return. I was impressed by the great organization. Since I left the airplane until I left the airport, it took only 25 minutes (including baggage claiming and testing).
First, the signalization indicating how to arrive at the test center was completely clear and easy to understand. Additionally, the queue for pre-registered passengers was very fast, with the support of friendly and helpful staff indicating all steps to follow. The test results arrived within three days.
Here is where I realized there’s an additional step. This new touchpoint is a tracking potential to include new performance measurement processes. Using KPIs to measure the extra touchpoint’s performance in the travelers’ journey decreases the possibility of impacting travelers’ experience negatively at the end of their travel.
Additional KPIs to Monitor the Process
In case you are working for an airline or airport, the following paragraph is for you. There are a bunch of new KPIs that came into my mind and can be measurements tracked as an agreement between airports and the government.
- Pre-Test Registrations: As there’s a website to register to the test as soon as the passenger checks in the flight to indicate the seat assigned, it can be possible to track passengers registered traveling back on a specific date.
- Rate of Tests Executed from Pre-registrations: It is possible to record the number of passengers pre-registered with a test executed on a particular date. How many of the performed tests corresponded to pre-registered passengers?
- Registration on Location: How many passengers registered directly after arrival?
- Rate of Tests Executed from Pre-registrations: How many passengers get tested without a pre-registration?
- Positive cases per Origin Destination: This KPI would provide us information with the positive cases per destination and help facilitate which regions from the declared risk areas imply even higher risk.
- Time or test performance upon arrival: How much time does each passenger require from the moment he arrived at the Test counter until the test finalizes. (In my case, it was less than 15 Minutes)
- Peaks: Peak times or rush hours of the testing center during the day.
- Rate Passengers Arriving from Risk Area: Rate of passengers coming from risk area from all passengers tested during the day.
- Rate Passengers Other Areas: Rate of passengers coming from a non-risk destination from all passengers tested during the day.
- Av Time Results delivery: Average time of delivered results.
- Rate of Positive results: How many passengers tested positive from all tested passengers during the day?
- Airlines Rate of Passengers Testing Positive: In which airlines did the passengers who tested positive traveled? As we know, in some cases, some origins have two or more operative airlines. Therefore it is essential to know which airline transported the highest rate of positive patients during the day.
Follow the Rules and Flying Will be Great During Times of Covid-19!
You probably expected to hear about significantly different processes and additional steps, but besides the possibility of being tested upon arrival, the process has not changed drastically. Flying during times of Covid-19 neither is complex nor more time-consuming.
The entire process shows us that we, as individuals, have to contribute to go back to the new normal. Let’s follow the rules, maintain our distance, and wear masks during the flight. We cannot expect airports and airlines to do all the work without us contributing.
Finally, I can say it felt terrific to fly again. This exciting feeling I missed for so many months was back, and I believe we are ready to continue adjusting to our new normal.
What was Your Experience When Flying During Times of Covid-19?
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