‘Very different’: What airports will look like post lockdown

Penny Burfitt
Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer

If you’re counting down the days until lockdown lifts and you can finally jet off on that planned holiday, it looks like you might need to adjust your expectations as experts predict travel of the future is set to change drastically.

According to some experts, airports, international travel and planes will likely undergo serious changes in a post-pandemic world that will change the way we travel completely.

Airports and travel are set to look very different in the future. Photo: Getty Images

David Chadwick, the director for Identity and Biometrics for Unisys in Asia Pacific, says travel is set to get far more personal, predicting travellers of the future will rely on their health status more than anything else when it comes to crossing international borders. 

"When the government lifts the travel bans, the airport experience will be very different to what it is now,” he said.

Mr Chadwick predicts that over the next 12 to 18 months, someone's health will become just as important to security as what they are carrying in their luggage.

“Security processes and experiences will centre on keeping people safe and healthy; for example, there might be a separate queue for somebody who is certified as being resistant or vaccinated against COVID-19,” he said.

“This will require travellers to provide more information to border security and will mean we will have an increased dependence on technology to identify risks.”

In fact, they predict that a clean bill of health or coronavirus recovery under your belt, could land you special treatment and that health will determine handy extras like express passes and boarding privileges.

More personal information

A passport may not cut it if you want to head overseas in the next year. Photo: Getty Images

It will also mean, however, that more personal information than ever might need to be provided to get from A to B.

The technology company predicts that things like identity apps, biometrics tools and connected government systems could be used to let borders access medical records or the locations a traveller has visited in order to give them the green light for travel.

David Chadwick, however, believes Australians will adapt to the changes relatively easily.

“To stay safe, most Australians acknowledge that we must share more personal information,” he says, adding six in ten Aussies are comfortable with the government using personal information and technology to maintain security.

New screening and seating

An empty seat beside you could become standard practice. Photo: Getty Images

It seems screening measures will also likely be overhauled for contactless options.

Airports in the future are likely to have more space in queues, quicker security screening, and more spaced out seating on planes.

Mr Chadwick predicts that airports will invest in systems that don’t require laptops of metal to be placed in trays, as they are a high germ transmission risk.

It could spell good news if you’re in a hurry, as cumbersome security lines often slow the airport flow, and are the main delay between checking in and settling into your flight.

Once on the plane, things will also look very different.

Anyone who has had a difficult, noisy or smelly neighbour on a long-haul flight will be pleased to know that Unisys predicts airlines will use only every second seat for the foreseeable future to keep enough distance between passengers.

So though we’re not sure when exactly we can jet off on another holiday, it looks like when that day comes we will have to be ready for a whole new world of travel.

Some might even prefer to travel through the virtual innovations that have sprung up since the coronavirus lockdown, that let ‘passengers’ see sights all over the globe, and even take a peek in our own backyard.

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