It’s an exciting time for those in the United States (and other countries who are good at vaccination). We’re about to have widespread vaccination and it looks like hopefully people will be able to travel without guilt for the coming summer.
This is a reason to celebrate and be excited. However, I saw that @xJonNYC coupled with a story that had an interesting take on how we will enter the “golden age” of travel, and I have my doubts.
Is next year the golden age of flying?
Town & Country released a story yesterday about how “all the things you hated about air travel” are now “gone,” suggesting that “the next 12 to 18 months may be the new golden age of flying are”.
How the story begins:
“Do you remember sold out flights? Ticket price fluctuations? The near impossibility of buying tickets with your miles for a flight you want, when you want?
There’s more: steep change fees; Lack of aisle and window seats; the scrimmage to find space for your hand luggage; the risk of being bumped; Take-off delays when planes idle on the tarmac, waiting for their turn; In-flight meal service (much ado about nothing, right?); long baggage carousel waiting (and lost bags); and the likelihood (admittedly slim, but memorable if you pull the short straw) of being on a flight with a “support” pig (or armadillo) in the seat next to yours.
The colossal disruptions of the pandemic did away with all of that – a consumer-friendly by-product of Covid-19, if you will. The pumpkin was turned into a chariot. However, like all such chariots, it has an expiration date and some of the irritants will return over time. “
The story goes that if you have been vaccinated, “the world will be your oyster” for the next 12 to 18 months.
There are many claims in history that are also questionable, or at least do a disservice to people who take what they read at face value (in fairness people probably shouldn’t read Town & Country for travel advice). However, this post is not about tearing apart different parts of the story, but rather sharing that for the next year I will have a very different (less optimistic) attitude towards travel.
New Zealand will definitely not be our “oyster” anytime soon
Flying probably won’t be that fun next year
I think we are all looking forward to a few months later, when aspects of life can return to normal. However, this does not mean that flying and traveling are better than they were before the coronavirus.
If you want to argue about the “golden age” of flying in relation to coronavirus, I would argue that this way last year was probably the “golden age” as fares were cheap and flights and airports were empty (of course for good reason).
Let me share my point of view on two levels – the large-scale travel experience and the more specific flying. And let’s take a look at this a few months later – let me share what I envision in midsummer. In the US (hopefully) everyone who wants a vaccine will have one.
When it comes to travel in general:
- The world will very much not be our “oyster” as many border restrictions go nowhere. Don’t assume you can go anywhere just because you’re vaccinated
- I think travel will be highly focused – for Americans, which includes domestic travel, Mexico, and select other destinations
- Many of the existing travel hurdles are likely to persist – expect countries to have constant changes to the rules regarding entry requirements, that you may need to be tested for coronavirus even if you are vaccinated, etc.
- I even see many Americans planning very detailed early summer itineraries to destinations that are not open to Americans and expecting things to change anytime soon, which I wouldn’t count on
- Expect social distancing and other coronavirus measures to continue, which may not be as seamless when hotels and airports are at full capacity. This could include, for example, hotels that don’t offer daily housekeeping, don’t provide proper room service, don’t refill minibars, etc.
Will the European Union open to Americans this summer? We will see…
When it comes to flying specifically:
- I don’t necessarily think the aircraft mask mandate is going to go anywhere in the near future, but I think we’ll see even more compliance issues between anti-maskers and those who have been vaccinated and think they shouldn’t have to wear masks
- The airlines have severely curtailed air service and I imagine they will be slow to bring it back
- Flights to destinations Americans can travel to will be very busy, probably busier than ever, given the pent-up demand for travel
- Although fares are low right now, we are likely to see significant price increases in the coming months as flights to some destinations will be full
This summer, expect airports to look less like this …
… and more like that
Let me reiterate that I’m not saying any of this because I’m trying to rain on someone’s parade. It’s going to be so exciting to travel this summer and hopefully feel like something is back to normal.
However, I assume that this will also come with challenges and I think it makes sense to prepare for it – many places will remain closed and as a result we will see tourists who are very focused on certain destinations. Additionally, there will likely continue to be significant restrictions, which is quite a balance with the large crowds.
Lots of people are starting to plan summer trips and that’s an exciting prospect. While I absolutely think travel will be great this summer (and beyond), I don’t see this as the “golden age” of travel in the sense that I think travel will continue to be associated with its challenges .
I don’t think mask mandates will be eliminated immediately, service in planes and hotels will likely continue to be at least somewhat limited, travel restrictions will continue to exist (and will be complicated), etc.
What do you think of this – are we entering the golden age of flying? When do you think the airlines’ mask mandates will be abolished, the airlines restore full flight service, etc.?