The Coronavirus pandemic has changed all of our worlds. Entire nations have been ordered to stay home; airlines and travel agents and tour operators have collapsed or dramatically scaled back.
When things return to “normal”, a new covid-normal, what will international travel look like? Here are a few of the changes that we anticipate, or are already in place.
Leaving the middle seat empty has been bandied around by the media, and some US airlines tried it for a while, but the airlines have made it clear that that is not an option for them economically speaking.
We expect that wearing a face mask inflight will be mandatory for both passengers and crew. Crew will also have some form of PPE such as protective eye wear, gloves and possibly disposable coveralls.
You know those times when you snag a flight with lots of empty seats and as soon as the door is closed or straight after take off there’s a scramble for a row of spare seats. With the need to track close contacts it is unlikely that moving seats without the permission of the crew will be possible.
The inflight amenity kit has already changed with the additions of a mask, gloves and hand sanitiser with a special covid announcement in flight of how to safely dispose of your personal PPE.
Even the good old inflight magazine (now seen as a major source of potential contamination) could have to be reviewed.
ENTRY & EXIT
Many airlines and countries are already demanding a COVID-19 PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test certificate with a negative result to be presented at check in. The test must be taken no more than 96 hours prior to departure. Some countries like Iceland are performing a covid test on arrival as well. There is research going on the UK to produce a covid test that will give a result in 20 seconds making a covid test on arrival more likely worldwide.
If and when a vaccine is found you can expect to have to show proof of vaccination, a bit like Yellow Fever is currently.
COVID SAFE COUNTRIES
Travel will normalise more quickly in countries that have coped well with COVID-19. The suggestion of “travel bubbles” between Australia and countries such as New Zealand, the Pacific Islands, Japan, Israel, Greece and recently Hawaii (which is not a country?) have fallen flat due to fresh outbreaks and second waves. The new lingo is a “travel corridor” or safe country list (with colour coded status) where depending on the destination, you don’t need to self isolate on arrival or agree to covid testing within 3 days of arrival.
The many approaches being trialled or adopted are constantly changing and evolving with the conditions.
WHO WILL TRAVEL AND WHEN?
What type of return traveller are you? Research indicates different types of travellers and when they will return to international travel after the pandemic.
TIP TOE TRAVELLERS will be the first to get onboard. Some will be business travellers but interestingly most are expected to be primarily leisure travellers. These are the people that are considered “cabin fever escapes”. Yes we can relate!
PIONEERS are the next wave of travellers. This group is largely made up of business travellers and mid to high tier frequent flyers who clearly love to travel.
FAST FOLLOWERS are exactly that! They can see that things are getting back to normal and start to jump on board for fear of missing out #FOMO
Of course, many will choose not to travel at all. The elderly or those with existing medical conditions will need to reassess any travel at all.
WHEN WILL TRAVEL BE BACK TO NORMAL?
We don’t think the travel will ever return to what it was. It’s a bit like changes that were made after the September 11 terror attacks, life changed forever.
Some estimates suggest that fully “back to normal pre covid travel numbers will take 24+ months to achieve. These changes are all in place to keep travellers and staff safe.
The current international travel ban for Australians is in place until 24 October 2020, so we will wait and see what the future looks like beyond that. Selah.
Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10
Yes we are at home for a while, but this season will also pass. And once again we will discover God’s marvellous world and awe inspiring creation.
Take a moment each day to rest and reflect. That is what Selah moments are all about.
Here is a personal update from the Selah team.
Lisa is grateful to have young adult/teenage children that don’t need to be home schooled! She is volunteering with her church to co-ordinate a sewing team to make fabric reusable face masks. So far they have distributed over 700 masks to individuals and organisations that are vulnerable and struggle to access masks.
Melanie has adopted a #pandemicpuppy named Zende to keep her family company during lockdown.
Melanie is working with our European partners to plan for the re-scheduled Oberammergau Passion Play in 2022.
Matt is enjoying working from home and the more relaxed pace of life during isolation.
Matt has been working hard chasing airlines and tour companies for the outstanding refunds that we are still waiting on.
Selah News and Information
Refunds from cancelled travel
Most of our incredibly patient clients have received refunds for cancelled travel arrangements.
There are sadly a number of outstanding refunds that we are chasing up regularly. This is made up largely of airlines that are still processing thousands of refunds. Making personal contact has been a real challenge, so we continue to follow up by email and whatever means we can.
Don’t hesitate to contact us to get an update on your refund by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Making use of Travel Credits
A large number of airlines and travel companies have offered credit in lieu of refund.
Once we have a clearer indication of when the international travel ban will be lifted, we can them assist in making new travel plans.
We suggest for now to do your research on what your trip might look like, but wait a little longer before you actually book.
As you can imagine travel insurance companies have been swamped.
Many of them have suspended the sale of travel insurance while the international travel ban is in place.
Sadly the majority of insurers exclude cover for pandemics and we expect any future policies will include this.
If you need assistance with a claim (& you purchased your insurance from Selah), please let us know how we can assist.