The kind of air travel you were used to in the past is probably going to change post lockdown. All thanks to COVID-19, social distancing is set to be the new norm for airlines and flyers. By Amitha Ameen
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Remember the last time you boarded a flight? Probably squished between two people in the middle seat and calling dibs on that armrest space. All of that is set to change post lockdown, as social distancing is the need of the hour not just on the surface but up in the air as well.
India’s top airlines like SpiceJet and IndiGo have already made announcements on the new ‘social distancing’ rules they are putting in place for passengers, that covers everything from the moment you check-in up to the time you get off the aircraft.
As India has already moved into the second phase of lockdown, which has been extended till May 3, airlines have started preparing new guidelines for post-travel ban operations. Even though the centre is yet to give a definite date for the re-functioning of commercial flights, Indian airlines are already testing new protocols for when operations will commence.
IndiGo CEO Ronojoy Dutta also reportedly confirmed about restarting flight operations on vital corridors of air traffic from May 04, first only on domestic routes, and then gradually on some international routes as well. As per further reports, he also assured of working with the government and the airports to increase cleanliness levels and strictly follow social distancing norms.
The new ‘license to fly,’ formulated by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), makes it mandatory for airlines to follow certain operating procedures. Compulsory thermal screening, no booking for middle seats and last three rows, minimal on-board services and preventing crowding near boarding gates and aerobridges, allowing boarding for only three rows at a time, are some of the measures that all the airlines will have to follow strictly.
Moreover, check-in desks, terminal buses and even alighting and de-boarding stairs will have coloured tape, giant ‘X’ marks and illuminated markers to make it easier for passengers to follow the rules.
While many people are likely to avoid travelling in the first few months post the lockdown, those who can’t have to pay a hefty price with major spike in airfares. With flights set to operate at half capacity with all the rules in place, authorities have said that the minimum fare will most likely be doubled for the next few months.
So what’s your take on this?