The travel industry has had its fair share of crisis’ – whether it be terrorist attacks, ash clouds, recessions or pandemics, its an industry that has to constantly adapt to survive.
While still in the midst of lockdown, working from home and continuing to help clients navigate the impact that coronavirus is having on their travel programs, we wonder how the industry will overcome this latest challenge – traveling at distance.
For those traveling in business or first class, this is less of a challenge, but how will this work in economy? Often shoulder-to-shoulder for hours on end, how will airlines be able to offer passengers a socially-distant flying experience to ensure their onboard safety?
How to reconfigure coach cabins to maximize space isn’t new news but there’s never been a challenge like this, to offer a more private space without losing the capacity which ultimately drives route profitability etc.
You might have seen that easyJet have said they will keep the middle seat free, much akin to how British Airways configure their Club Europe cabin – we think that’s great news for a passenger; even when flying before the pandemic, settling into your seat, hearing the ‘doors closed’ announcement and internally grinning from ear-to-ear that the middle seat isn’t taken is certainly one of life’s little pleasures.
Other airline seat manufacturers have taken COVID-19 as an opportunity to be more bold in their endeavors to reshape coach-class travel.
Italian design firm Aviointeriors, which specialises in designing aircraft cabin interiors and passenger seats, has proposed two new seat designs for post-Covid-19 travel that attempt to create some social distance between passengers on planes without losing seating capacity.
“Each passenger has its own space isolated from others, even from people who walk through the aisle” – Aviointeriors
The Italian seat-maker also unveiled the Glassafe, a shield that can be added to each seat on a plane to create a barrier between passengers. They say this ‘shield’ can be easily installed and removed so airlines do not have to drastically change the cabin interior of the aircraft.
Of course, it’s not just aircraft configurations that may need to change – airlines will need to look at the entire passenger experience, working alongside airports and border-forces around the world to give comfort to travelers who want to adhere to advice and keep their distance from others.
It’s hard to predict when our industry will fully recover but we stand ready to assist just as soon as the borders open.