By Agence France-Presse
Cabin crew in protective suits, health certifications for passengers, mandatory face masks, and longer check-in times.
This is the new reality of mass air travel.
As people dream of taking to the skies once more, they face the prospect that changes to curb the spread of coronavirus will be even more challenging than those brought in after the 2001 terror attacks in the United States.
In addition to the strict security measures commonplace around the world since then, passengers will now encounter a barrage of checks for COVID-19.
“Before the pandemic, we were told to arrive two hours before the flight. This time we had to be at the airport at least four hours before flying,” said Indonesian Suyanto after taking a domestic route in late May.
There were multiple queues and screenings before he could even check in at the airport, he added.
Passengers in the country must declare a reason for flying, provide documentation proving they are virus-free, undergo multiple screenings, and offer details of their movements on arrival.
“It was more tiring and expensive. With these kinds of strict rules, I think people will think twice before travelling,” said the 40-year-old, who had to pay double the usual fare for his short flight as some seats were left empty for social distancing.
As the aviation industry attempts to find a way forward, experts warn the impact of the pandemic will be far-reaching.
“9/11 created a new environment for the entire travel industry in terms of security,” explained Shukor Yusof from Malaysia-based Endau Analytics.
While the fallout from the 2001 attacks could be used as an “indicator” of what to expect, the COVID-19 challenge was a “far more serious… global event”, he said.