In the light of the current health situation and with widespread travel bans in place, it might be too early to think about resuming air travel, not to mention international air travel, in the foreseeable future. However, those of us based in Asia are seeing an imminent return to the skies within countries that have taken extreme safety protocols since the early stages of the pandemic.
This return will be made by some airlines such as Air Asia in early May and it constitutes one of the first signs of a move back to (new) normal air travel. For it to succeed, they’ve released a series of safety measures to be implemented on all their flights that we believe will likely shape air travel protocols in the following years.
First and foremost, as it is commonplace in Asian countries, all passengers will be required to bring their own mask and wear it properly before, during, and after the flight, including during check-in and bag collection. Passengers without a mask will be denied boarding.
Air Asia: "no mask, no travel"
To facilitate social distancing especially during embarkation and disembarkation, it will only be allowed ONE piece of cabin baggage not exceeding 5 kg for each guest. This will also help minimize unwanted contact between you and another guest’s baggage and vice versa.
Timing will also change to allow for all the necessary safety processes to take place. It’ll be recommended to arrive earlier at the airport - preferably 3 hours before departure even for domestic flights. Let’s take a deeper look at some of these new procedures.
- Temperature screening will take place at different checkpoints, including boarding gates.
- Social distancing will be observed with floor markers at queuing areas, including check-in counters & kiosks.
- Alternate check-in counters will be opened to keep social distancing.
- Hand sanitizers will be available through journey processing point for guests and staff.
- Cabin will be disinfected via aerosol spraying before departure.
- Contactless web and mobile check-in to reduce surface and physical contact in check-in and boarding processes.
Thermal scanners were a common sight in Asian airports before this pandemic
- All aircraft are fitted with HEPA filters normally used in hospitals, which filter out particles and airborne contaminants such as viruses and bacteria.
- All cabin crew will be in protective equipment including masks and gloves.
- Seat distancing will be observed, when flight occupancy allows, for guests to move within respective zones, under cabin crew’s guidance.
- All meals are produced and packaged hygienically following strict food safety requirements. Cabin crew handling menu items will wear disposable gloves.
- Cabin crew are well trained to assist with any medical situation inflight including identification and isolation of anyone onboard who may feel unwell.
- Temperature checks will occur before arrival to destinations where temperature screening is mandatory.
- Health declaration forms will be handed out to be filled out before or on arrival.
- Thermal screening will take place upon arrival.
- Transit passengers will be asked to stay at the airport.
As mentioned, all the above measures and procedures by Air Asia are expected to be part of the “new normality” going forward. We’ve got here and now a glimpse of what the world of travel might look like in years to come, it’s up to us to adapt and keep enjoying travel and cycling in a safe and healthy way.
Source: Air Asia