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With the amount of vaccinated Americans closing in on half, airline travel is starting to adjust to the “new normal”. Which precautions will no longer be necessary, and which ones are here for the long haul?

Covid Tests and Vaccination Requirements

While the United States still requires a negative Covid test to re-enter the country after international travel, this requirement is likely to fall by the wayside in favor of general vaccination requirements. The CDC has waived quarantine requirements for vaccinated people, and it seems likely that airlines will soon require vaccinations to travel.

Airport Screening Facilities

During the Covid crisis, some airports began to plan ahead and found ways to offer Covid screening and testing at the airport itself. While Covid testing will become less important as vaccination rates increase, there will still be a need to screen or test individuals who have suddenly become unwell on their flight or on the way to the airport. Some airport spas have already taken advantage of this need, and if you think about it, it just makes sense.

Air Sanitation Systems

Incredible progress was made by airlines in their attempts to keep their cabins sanitary so they could travel safely. The air sanitation systems that airlines now use are widely considered to be safer than bars or restaurants in terms of respiratory infection risk. It is unlikely that airlines will return to their previous, much less sanitary air filtration systems, and everyone will be healthier for it. 

Business Travel

Many airlines are trying to win back business travelers who largely sat out 2020-2021 due to the pandemic. They are offering perks and flexible loyalty programs. Additionally, airlines are being much more flexible about cancellation fees–no one wants you to travel if you become ill. 

Spacious cabins

Many airlines are actually redesigning their jets to offer a more socially distanced, spacious cabin. The reasons are pretty self-explanatory: more space means less risk of transmission. New designs will also be smaller (fewer people, less risk), with larger, dimmable windows and overhead cabins. 

Personal PPE and masks

While the number of people traveling in face shields and latex gloves has certainly gone down, it is unlikely that airports will lift their mask requirements for now. Even in places where the mask mandate has been lifted, airports across the country are continuing to require masks, as are all forms of public transport. It is unlikely this will change in 2021–and perhaps in 2022 as well. Of course, eventually, masks will be like they were before–up to the individual–but that kind of trust may take a while after the past year and a half.