The COVID-19 pandemic has changed life as we know it, leaving practically nothing unaffected by its reach. The aerospace industry is no exception. The drastic decrease in air travel has impacted the aerospace industry as a whole, from airlines to manufacturers to suppliers. Moving forward, we can expect things to look very different from what we’ve grown accustomed to when we think of air travel.
Changes in Airline Policies
Major airlines have implemented new policies in an attempt to protect passengers and reduce the spread of COVID-19.
- Some airlines are not seating people in the middle seat to allow for a bit more social distancing. This practice may be phased out as airlines return to higher occupancy and more flights. Airlines such as Southwest and Delta will have the policy through September, but other airlines started selling middle seats again in July.
- Airlines are requiring passengers and crew members to wear face masks. This policy generally applies to everyone, excluding children under the age of two. In previous months, airlines made exceptions for individuals with medical conditions that made mask wearing unsafe; now, most airlines are eliminating that caveat. All passengers may remove masks when eating and drinking.
- While airlines are permitting passengers to remove masks when eating and drinking, the on-board food and beverage offerings have been significantly reduced. Rather than a beverage cart and a menu of food options to choose from, passengers might only receive water and snacks—if their flight is long enough. Those on shorter flights may not receive any refreshments at all. Passengers are still permitted to bring their own food and beverage onboard.
- Many airlines are offering more lenient rebooking policies than they usually do. Passengers can cancel or change flights without a fee. Airlines are also offering extended time frames for customers to use credits from cancelled flights.
Airlines are doing everything they can to keep air travel safe for passengers and employees during this time, and passengers are learning to be flexible when they choose to travel. Air travel is not going away; it may just look very different than what we’re used to, and it may take a long time to get back to where we were before. Until then, airlines and passengers alike will have to adapt to the new normal of aerospace.