Scientists and experts have estimated that the coronavirus pandemic might go on until 2024 so let us gain an insight into what the future of travel looks like in the aftermath of the worst global public health crisis since the second world war.
Airports in 2024
Social distancing is now the new normal and airports around the world have introduced measures to ensure these regulations are being followed. These include maintaining one to two-metre distance at all times in an effort to spread passengers more evenly across terminals.
Hand sanitiser-dispensing stations are set up in high passenger volume areas such as check-in lobbies, baggage claims, food courts, security checkpoints, and gates. In addition, full-body disinfectant booths have also been stationed at security checkpoints to decontaminate passengers similar to the ones being tested by Hong Kong International Airport.
The full-body disinfectant machines sanitises users within 40 seconds, using sprays that eliminate bacteria and viruses on skin and clothing, and will be mandatory for all passengers. The majority of the airport staff will be replaced by robots, including cleaning robots that move around killing microbes using ultraviolet light.
Carry-on bags, personal items and electronic items are also disinfected before entering the X-ray machine before they are labelled with a tag that reads, "sanitagged."
Electronic check-in procedures have now been made mandatory in a bid to prevent unnecessary interaction. Waiting times and lines are also longer thanks to the stringent checks and thermal screening stations now installed at airports to prevent the further spread of the virus overseas.
Risk-free passengers or travellers who carry antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, are now carrying "immunity passports" - a document that certifies that they are immune to the coronavirus infection. Airlines now offer additional COVID-19 testing services that allow passengers to undergo blood tests that produce results within 10 minutes.
Flights in 2024
Before you take your seat, you will be greeted by flight attendants but you may not be able to see their smiles as they are hidden behind masks, which you will be wearing as well, given that they are now as important as your passport - no mask, no travel.
Airlines have now stepped up their cleaning and sanitation procedures, disinfecting your tray table, seat, seat belts, and accessories, among others, before you board the flight. Thankfully, sharing armrests is now a thing of the past as the middle seats are now kept empty to ensure distancing between passengers. Of course, this will jack up the cost of flight tickets as airlines try to cover losses incurred due to its unusable seats.
Tourist destinations in 2024
Planning a vacation to Italy or Greece to soak up some sun on the beach? Well, you might find yourself sunbathing in glass cubicles, separated from other sun loungers and if you are interested in a swim, the ocean is the only place you can go for a dip as hotels have now shut down their swimming pools.
Hotels have now employed robots to carry out tasks like room service deliveries. Check-in and check-out is now done virtually and guests temperatures are recorded every time they enter the hotel. Elevators' usage is now restricted to a limited number of guests and those who wish to use the hotel's gym must sign up for a specific time slot.
Restaurants have fewer tables, spread out more sparsely, with social distancing in mind and buffets have been scrapped and replaced with only a la carte menus. Also, self-navigating robot waiters have now replaced human servers and bring food and drinks to a restaurant table.