5 Ways business travel will change post COVID-19

5 Ways business travel will change post COVID-19


1. Technology will have its place but will not replace business travel.

As businesses around the world have come to grips with connecting digitally through virtual platforms with their teams and clients, it is safe to assume that some corporate travel will be replaced by technology. However connecting face-to-face will still be important for many.

Corporates have come to realise that not every board meeting has to happen in person, and shorter catch-ups could be done just as efficiently by video call.

A recent report by IdeaWorks, Flight Plan 2020: 8 Ways Travel Will Be Different a Few Months from Now, suggests that remote meetings will replace between 5% and 15% of business travel as companies aim to reduce their travel spend by using technology.

However, that is not to say that virtual meetings will replace all business travel. After weeks of being restricted to our homes, most road warriors are keen to take to the air again and connect with customers face-to-face.

Global data provider OAG has predicted that the minimum connecting times for flights will significantly increase in a post-COVID world as a result of increased health screenings and safety measures.

Whereas domestic-international connections averaged Minimum Connect Times of 45 minutes and international-international connections averaged 90 minutes, OAG predicts in the future no connection will be made in under 2 hours.

5 Ways Business Travel

3. A refreshed approach to air safety.

Longer airport queues, more stringent health checks and air quality controls on board will be the order of the day as hygiene and safety will remain an essential concern in the months and years ahead.

Until recently, safety and security in the aviation industry consisted of aircraft and safety procedures as well as 'anti-terrorism' measures. Post-2020, 'health' will likely become a more important consideration for travel. A scenario where airports and airlines will monitor the health of passengers crossing the border can't be excluded.[i]

Personal sanitation assurance will be prioritised, and surveys will be introduced to grade and rate providers on the measures they put in place to prevent disease. US-based Delta Airlines has already launched a branded promise to ensure better sanitation with its 'Delta Clean' campaign. This campaign focusses on disinfecting high-touch areas in the aircraft, including tray tables, entertainment screens, armrests and seatback pockets.[ii]

Meanwhile, South African-based airlines such as budget airline Fly Safair, have also put health measures in place from deep cleaning to temperature checks and controlled air quality, among others.

[i] A new normal: the changing face of air transport post-COVID-19, SITA Positioning Paper, May 2020

[ii] Flight Plan 2020: How Travel Will Be Different, IdeaWorks, 14 April 2020


5 Ways business travel will change post COVID-19 (Infographic)


Increased social distancing and sanitisation will be a significant focus for airports into the future. To achieve this, we can expect the travel industry to increasingly turn to digital technologies and automation to meet these new requirements and to create a 'touchless' travel experience. Contactless, self-service technologies at every step will facilitate passenger flow, cutting queues while ensuring a social distancing-friendly passenger experience.[i] We can expect the use of facial recognition and Advanced Imaging Technology body scanners that allow passengers to simply walk through without stopping.>

Automation across the entire sector will become the new norm, according to the World Economic Forum[ii]. Biometrics is already a widely accepted solution for identity verification, and their use will become more widespread as physical fingerprint and hand scanners are phased out.

More touchless options will come into play, including contactless fingerprint scanning, as well as iris and facial recognition. Moreover, technology for touchless data-entry such as gesture control, touchless document scanning and voice commands are already being tested.

[i] A new normal: the changing face of air transport post-COVID-19, SITA Positioning Paper, May 2020

[ii] Here’s what travelling could be like after COVID-19, May 2020, https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/05/this-is-what-travelling-will-be-like-after-covid-19/

Although the potential scrapping of the dreaded middle seat in economy class might sound like music to most passengers' ears, it is not the right way to approach the need for social distancing in the long-term according to airline experts.

"Right now, we need it, because not doing so would contradict instructions from authorities and common sense. The urgent need to slow infection rates takes precedence overall, even if the solution is not perfect," explained Daniel Baron, Managing Director of Tokyo-based LIFT Aero Design, in a recent BBC interview. "Long term, however, it is not economically sustainable. After the dust settles, we will all go back to expecting affordable global mobility again. To enable the fares for that, especially if total capacity has been reduced, airlines will need bums in all seats."

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade group representing airlines around the world, has also come out against blocking off middle seats on planes while recommending both passengers and crew members wear face masks on-board instead.

"Evidence suggests that the risk of transmission on-board aircraft is low," the association said in a statement. "Mask-wearing by passengers and crew will reduce the already low risk while avoiding the dramatic cost increases to air travel that on-board social distancing measures would bring."

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