Airlines Tout New Tech, Cleanliness Amid Pandemic

While travel has faced setbacks due to the pandemic, some silver linings include faster technology rollouts, better airline policies and more focus on fliers, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported.

A lack of airport and airline cleanliness has been exposed, and standards could be changed in the coming years, WSJ reported, adding that cleanliness might not always be a priority, but many airlines have now acknowledged that they could have been doing better all along.

Then there’s the partial elimination of change fees, although there’s fine print that WSJ reported could eliminate much of the customer value.

But there could be larger value found in the big construction projects for oft-crowded airports like Los Angeles International Airport and New York’s LaGuardia Airport, which could alleviate much of the disruption suffered by the pre-pandemic world, according to WSJ.

Mark Pearson, vice president of Corporate Real Estate at Delta Air Lines, said there is “no chance” the projects could have happened without the huge decline in traffic that the pandemic brought, WSJ reported. He said people “have to find good news wherever you can.”

Travelers might come back to entirely different airports than what they remember, WSJ reported.

For instance, Los Angeles International Airport lost around 95 percent of its passenger traffic in April as the prime lockdown time in the U.S. began. WSJ noted the big construction project there got a second look after that, with workers doing “two and three shifts a day” instead of just overnight. Congested roads that had been open for picking up and dropping off passengers could be narrowed for the full day.

While the end of the pandemic might be in sight as vaccines roll out, airlines are currently flying blind, with low inoculation rates for the past few weeks not doing much to boost the confidence for flyers. There will also likely be more jets like the 850-pound Airbus A380 that end up retired in favor of more economical sizes.

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