7 Things You May Never See in Airports Ever Again
Coronavirus is changing the way we travel—and it's time to say goodbye to these airport relics.
The coronavirus pandemic has undeniably hobbled the aviation industry, with travel restrictions, major vacation destination closures, and the understandable fear of boarding a plane packed with strangers prompting more and more folks to stay home. In fact, the number of passengers who passed through TSA checkpoints dropped 92 percent between May 10, 2020, and the same date the year prior.
However, a return to flying the friendly skies is inevitable—albeit with some pretty major changes to how airports operate in a bid to keep both employees and passengers safe. With the help of travel experts, we've rounded up the airport changes you're sure to see after the coronavirus pandemic. And for more ways travel is changing, discover these 13 Things You May Never See on Airplanes Again After Coronavirus.
No more security bins
Those bins at airport security checkpoints may keep your items together as they pass through the scanner, but they're also a hotbed for germs, meaning they're unlikely to remain part of your airport experience for long. In fact, according to a 2018 study published in BMC Infectious Diseases, plastic trays were deemed the items in airports most likely to transmit disease.
So, what will replace them? "It may be a bit more sanitary for everyone to drop their items on a conveyer belt," says Anastasia Iliou, founder of Travel Goals Club, a community for frequent travelers. "It's still not ideal, but it eliminates the problem of everyone's hands being all over those bins." And if you're wondering how else your trip will be different, discover these 7 Things You'll Never See Flight Attendants Do Again.
No more play areas for kids
Play areas for children may have saved the sanity of countless parents traveling with their little ones, but don't expect them to stick around much longer.
"Under normal circumstances, these are difficult to keep clean and sterile, and in the post-coronavirus era, at least until worldwide infections are significantly lowered, I predict that these will not be available to the general public, as hundreds and even thousands of children use them every day, along with their parents," says travel expert Talia Klein Perez, founder of Traveling Overseas with Kids.
No more cramped airport lounges
Surprisingly enough, those cushy lounges you once enjoyed pre-flight may actually become more pleasant post-pandemic. Travel expert Joe Spencer, owner of U.K.-based vacation planning company Holiday Park Ace, says that, in order to maintain social distancing, instead of small lounges packed full of people "you might have three airport lounges specifically for one flight so people can keep [six feet] apart."
No more shuttle buses
To ensure that social distancing measures are maintained for the foreseeable future, you probably won't see many hotel shuttles or airport busses taking passengers to different terminals.
"[Shuttle buses] will be a thing of the past because you simply can't get on one when the virus is easily spread through close contact," says Spencer.
No more long TSA lines
Sometimes airport security lines felt so long, you'd think you could drive to your destination faster. Luckily, those headache-inducing queues are one of the more positive changes you'll see after the coronavirus pandemic has subsided.
In their place, "you'll see more organized lines with signage to prevent crowding," says Alex Miller, founder of UpgradedPoints.com, a company specializing in travel analysis and frequent flier programs. Miller also predicts that additional measures will be put in place to ensure social distancing once you're in line, as well.
No more reusable cutlery
It's not just single-use plastic bags making a comeback amid the coronavirus pandemic—prepare to see disposable utensils returning to your local airport, too.
"Eliminating reusable cutlery will prevent critical spreading of germs between passengers and staff who will no longer need to handle used cutlery that is now covered in bacteria," explains health coach and medical acupuncturist Jamie Bacharach, Dipl.Ac.
No more touch-activated bathroom fixtures
If you never have to touch a soap dispenser or toilet handle in an airport again, you'll probably have COVID-19 to thank.
"With COVID-19 in mind, restrooms will become more automated to reduce touching of these surfaces," explains Miller. And if you want to stay safe, you'd be wise to avoid the 7 Germiest Public Places You Should Avoid Even After They Reopen.