The new norm of flying in COVID-19 with Fox Business


Traveling by airplane is arguably a higher risk than traveling by car –air travel is full of opportunities for coronavirus transmission. And yet despite the travel industry seeing a drop in demand amid coronavirus- air travel reached a new high over the past weekend, with more than 2 million people passing through airports between Thursday and Sunday (according to a report by the Transportation Security Administration.) So what does the future of air travel look like for us amid COVID-19 and can we actually fly safely?

1. What measures the travel industry is taking to prevent the spread of the virus at airports and on planes?
Right now – mask wearing is being enforced, and measures like cue markers and plexi glass shields are helping to minimize the spread within the airport. Once on the plane currently most airlines will have masks and sanitizer available – and electrostatic spraying will be done prior to every departure.  In future we may even start using facial recognition technology taking over manual ID checks. We’ve also heard that when the middle seat does return, it may be with dividers, or facing the other way

2. Will airports and airlines actually invest in these kinds of measures, and can they afford to operate with them in the long run?
Yes,there are brilliant airlines out there who have begun implementing some extremely innovative initiatives. Etihad Airways for example – which is an international carrier that is CURRENTLY flying from Abu Dhabi to 29 destinations worldwide – has started implementing what they call The Etihad Wellness Program- an online guide used to set standards of hygiene and health. Once certain travel restrictions are lifted, Etihad will also introduce Wellness Ambassadors on board, to answer any questions and provide that enhanced level of care focused on in-flight health and wellness. In the long run – airlines will have to figure out their budgets but I think measures like this are set to become the new norm of flying. 

3. What about technology and travel apps – how are they helping?
Predictability and preparation are now key travel factors. App in the Air, for example, which acts as a personal travel assistant that keeps you up-to-date with your flight, will be introducing In-App Health Filters so when you’re searching for future flights using the app, new filters will include whether a mask is needed, avoiding middle seats and free cancellations. The apps landing page will also provide weekly updates –  on the countries you’re departing and arriving from, including government restrictions and airline and airport rules. 

 4. What about airports – particularly internationally, what are we seeing? In India, passengers have to show they have a CONTACT TRACING APP installed on their phones in order to enter the terminal. At Deli International Airport, luggage has to go through a UV sanitizing tunnel and at London Heathrow Airport they are running trials of temperature scans that look for travelers with a fever. Airports around the world are taking everything to the next level, and I believe these changes may transform travel and we know it for some time. 

Senior Travel on Newsmax TV

1. How has the travel industry opened up to Seniors, as COVID restrictions have eased?

Well back in February as seniors started getting vaccinated, there were many reports of those over 65 leading the way for travel to open up again. The travel agency network Virtuoso for example, revealed more than 8 in 10 respondents 77 or older were more ready to travel in 2021 than they were last year. The travel industry followed suit offering all kinds of deals for those over 65. Airlines started offering (and are still offering) coupon codes for seniors, resorts and hotels followed suit and travel insurance companies stretched out a limb too. Now although the COVID-19 vaccines have made vulnerable groups like seniors less likely to suffer severe illness from the virus, adults over 65 should still make themselves aware of a few things before they travel.

2 – What are some must-ask questions for Seniors before they lock in a trip?

What type of trip do you want? – Tours are often geared toward specific interests and activities, so think carefully about what you want from your trip. For example, if your goal is to kick back, relax, and get away from it all, then an organized tour that has you climbing on and off a tour bus for 12 hours a day, is not going to work.

What accessibility do you need, and how active do you want your trip to be? – Make sure your tour matches your physical ability and expectations.If you have limited mobility and require a wheelchair or scooter, make sure the tour operator is prepared to accommodate your needs. Remember that historic inns and smaller hotels may not have elevators and other accessibility features that are standard in larger hotels in urban areas.

How much do you want to spend? – Group tours are often more expensive than solo travel, but they also offer convenience and less travel stress. You don’t have to worry about getting from Point A to Point B or where to spend the night because you’re paying someone else to manage the details. Once you’ve chosen your destination, get pricing from several different tour companies, so you can compare.

3 – How about travel groups for Seniors?  Are those a worthy option?
There are many advantages to traveling in a group as a senior.

It’s less expensive –  Group tours are often much cheaper than traveling independently. If you are a senior traveling on a budget, you should definitely consider group travel. There are many online offers providing discounts for group tours. Furthermore, you may be able to find cheaper airfares and accommodation for seniors traveling in groups. This way you can save money which gives you more to spend.

You can meet people – Travelling in a group enables you to meet people. You are bound to meet different types of people who likely will be similar in age, depending upon your travel preferences. This way, you can socialize and get to know them and have an instant party. This beats traveling solo hands down!

Traveling with a group is safe – Consider your health and safety especially when in a different state or country. You do not wish to fall ill or get lost alone in a foreign place. The chances of getting lost, having an accident or, heaven forbid being robbed are lessened when you travel in a group. Furthermore, if you suffer an illness or have a problem you will have group support from your new found friends.

4 – What are the best insider tips for Seniors to get the most bang for their buck? And where should they look to go?

Well the first thing you want to decide is your mode of transport – flying, driving or train – and that will also affect your costs. From personal experience, my mothers is a senior and this summer she still felt nervous about flying. I live in Connecticut so as a compromise I took a train to Massachusetts and drove her an hour to the gorgeous Gloucester Beach area, where we stayed at the breathtaking Beauport House right on the water with a 360 view pool on the roof and fabulous food. It was only a couple of nights a short way from home – but that was enough for her. They also offer great senior discounts depending on the time of year.  So when it comes to choosing both your transport and your accommodation be sure to ask every step of the way what deals are offered for seniors, even if you think there won’t be any- you will be surprised! Even if it’s a 2 for 1 drink special!

5 – Let’s say your trip is booked.  What are some must-do tips to prep for the travel?
Gather your important documents and medical info, including possible doctor’s notes and identification as well as any necessary use of needles onboard.  If you no longer drive, make sure you have a valid state-issued personal ID card or a passport, before the day you’re set to leave.

Plan with time in mind too. Ask yourself how far the walk is from your drop-off point to the terminal, how much medical and mobility equipment is there to carry, and keep in mind access to a restroom. 

Notify your airline and TSA of any special needs or request for travel assistance. Although booking airline tickets online is convenient for many, if you are booking air travel for seniors who require special medical or mobility equipment, call the airline’s customer service line instead.

Lastly, you’ll want to be conscious of how you pack your medications and other medically necessary liquids, gels, and aerosols in your carry-on. The TSA requests that you inform the TSA officer that you have medically necessary goods prior to your screening so they can proceed accordingly.