Business travel has come to a complete halt in the first few months of 2020, as the world grappled with the COVID-19 crisis. With stay-at-home orders in place throughout the country, a large percentage of the workforce were forced to work from home and cancel all travel plans indefinitely.
It’s no secret that pandemic has not been easy for the air travel industry. But as restrictions and travel bans are easing across the country and the world, things are looking up again for the future of flying.
COVID-19, however, may have changed air travel as we know it forever.
Let us take a closer look at how the pandemic has changed the way people travel for business.
Demand for Private Aviation Surges
While the idea of flying private for business isn’t new, the demand for private jet flights has surged over the past few months as more and more companies turn to private aviation as a safe and efficient means of transportation.
Private jets inherently tick all the right boxes for those who need to fly right now, whether for business or leisure. Aside from providing a personalized business travel experience, chartered flights eliminate most health and safety concerns that people have with traveling during a pandemic, particularly the need to traverse through crowded airports and fly with strangers.
With so many flights getting rerouted or cancelled, flying private has become a viable and convenient option for travellers.
More Time Spent at The Airport
Gone were the days when it’s okay to show up at the airport an hour or two before your flight. To ensure everyone’s safety, airports and airlines are now implementing strict disinfection processes prior to boarding. Commercial flight passengers are advised to be at the airport three or four hours earlier to complete all the necessary health, sanitation, and safety protocols.
A lengthier immigration process is also to be expected when traveling to another country during the pandemic.
More Travel Requirements
A passport used to be the only thing you need when traveling out of the country, but not anymore. Aside from a clean bill of health, a negative COVID test result, and travel insurance, those who are traveling for business may need to produce proof that their travel is essential, especially when the destination is a known COVID hotspot.
You’ll also likely need to present a recent negative COVID test result before being allowed to board a flight back to the country.
Business Trips Becoming Longer
Up until COVID-19 happened, it was normal for businessmen and corporate employees to take short business trips outside the country. These days, however, this has become impossible.
Many countries require incoming passengers to isolate until they get their negative COVID test result, while others implement a mandatory two-week isolation period even after testing negative.
That being said, organizations have to take a case-by-case approach when assessing the viability of employee travel nowadays. They have to be more flexible with the travel plans and budget to accommodate last-minute changes and ensure the safest routes of travel for their representatives.
Air Travel is More Flexible Than Ever
If there’s one silver lining for traveling in the time of COVID-19, it’s that air travel has become more flexible and accommodating towards passengers. Airlines used to charge passengers for changing or cancelling their flights, but that’s no longer the case.
Some airline companies have waived change fees for this year amid the ever-changing travel bans, while others have cancelled them indefinitely. Also, most flight vouchers issued during the pandemic are valid for up to two years.
These days, it does seem like passengers have the upper hand. The balance of power has shifted to consumers, and it’s likely to stay that way for a while.
Business Travel Rebounds Slowly Amid the Pandemic
Although virtual conferencing platforms have made it possible for businesses to hold meetings and discussions from different parts of the world, it is not always enough. Some deals are best negotiated face-to-face.
The good news is that despite the huge blow that it has sustained for most of 2020, air travel, whether for business or leisure, is bound to pick up in the next few months as COVID vaccines become widely available.
The airline industry is expected to slowly rebuild itself as domestic travel restrictions are lifted and the country opens itself up for flights from all over the world.
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About the Author
Melissa Hull is the Content Marketing Strategist for Aviation Charters, a West Trenton, New Jersey-based private aviation company that provides on-demand aircraft charter, aircraft management, and aircraft acquisition services. Aside from her passion for writing, she loves to travel and read espionage books