Travel industry expecting increase

Nick Pallotto, News Editor

 North senior Lorenzo Pardo was looking forward to finally being able to get out of his snow buried house and vacation in sunny Florida.  In preparation, he began to do his usual packing:  sunglasses, sunscreen, shorts, but then it hit him.  He would need a bigger suitcase. Traveling in the age of Covid-19 requires much more planning.


Wearing a mask, sanitizing and social distancing are parts of life now.  The travel industry has shifted its focus to meet the needs of travelers during the pandemic. TSA reports it will be working as effectively and efficiently as possible to ensure the safety of all passengers.   


Air travel has not yet bounced back from its pre-pandemic numbers. TSA reports that from Feb. 1 -Feb. 20, the number of passengers travelling was 942,238.   In 2020, during that same time frame, 1,951, 535 travelers passed through US airports.  This means that the airline industry has experienced a 107% decrease in travel during the month of February. 


“Things are going to be tough for a while,” CEO of Dubai airports Paul Griffith said when he spoke to Isabel Debre of the Associated Press. “But I think in the long term there will be a cause for optimism, but exactly when the recovery will gain place and manifest itself in significant volumes of people wanting to fly again really depends.” 


USA Today’s Chris Elliot reports that experts predict travel will continue to increase during 2021 because ticket prices will be lower, and airports will be cleaner.   


“It’s in peoples DNA to travel,” Director of marketing and communications at Allianz Travel Daniel Durazo told Elliot. “With pent-up demand and the hope of a highly effective Covid-19, we could see a surge in travel bookings in 2021.”  


For now, airlines are taking flexible approach to customer safety, Alaska Airlines announced on Sept. 1, 2020 it will be implementing a more relaxed system with scheduling and cancelling flights. Passengers will not have to pay a change fee if they wish to cancel or reschedule their flight. American Airlines has also done the same. 


“We’ve never seen anything like this,” Airline Weekly co-founder Seth Kaplan told the New York Times. “Airlines that are most famously inflexible are being very flexible right now.”  


Delta airlines is the only airline still blocking the middle seat, the airline and plans to do so through at least Apr. 30, 2021. The airline is also continuing to limit capacity on all flights departing through the end of April. They want to make sure that passengers can book their spring travel safely and confidently.  


 “We want our customers to have complete confidence when travelling with Delta, and they continue to tell us that more space means more peace of mind,” Delta Chief Customer Experience Officer Bill Lentsch said to the Delta news Hub. “We’ll continue to reassess seat blocking in relation to case transmission and vaccination, while bringing pack products and services in ways that will install trust in the health and safe of everyone on board.” 


People that are just now beginning to travel again in 2021 understand the drastic changes that airports have undergone since the outbreak. According to some travelers, airports are often empty because people do not want to run the risk of contracting Covid-19.   


Anyone familiar with long lines at airport security check points or waiting at departure gates know there are not many opportunities for social distancing.  Even with a reduction in travelers, it is still important to be vigilant. 


“When you set foot in the airport, you have to have your mask on at all times,” Pardo said. “Airports are way less crowded now than they were before the Covid-19 outbreak. When you go through security, it takes like 5 minutes; before Covid it took 10 to 20 minutes.”  


Even with restrictions, refusal to comply with safety standards has occurred. Newsweek reported on Jan 12, a woman was kicked off a flight from Charlotte, NC, heading to Washington, DC. Because she was claiming that she received the vaccine and said that she did not have to wear a mask. The women showed no documentation of a previous vaccination.  


“I already had the virus, and I already had the vaccine,” the women yelled at flight attendants as she was escorted off the plane. “This is tyranny, this is wrong, this is wrong. If we don’t stand up this is going to get worse.”  


Travelling in these unforeseen circumstances means staying prepared. Packing a set of supplies along with your personal belongings is strongly suggested.  



“We did have to wear a mask in the airport, and on the plane, they gave us a small container of hand sanitizer,” North senior Riley Leflein said.  


The CDC recommends that all travelers must show evidence of a negative Covid-19 test result when travelling internationally or returning to the United States.  


“Testing does not eliminate the risk,” CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, MD, said during a CDC press conference on Jan. 12. “But, when combined with a period of staying at home and everyday precautions like wearing masks and social distancing, it can make travel safer, healthier, and more responsible by reducing the spread on planes, in airports, and at destinations.”