How Coronavirus Changed the World of Travel

It’s undeniable, coronavirus has changed the world and impacted on the world of travel. The movement control orders and lockdowns have resulted in Global turmoil in the aviation industry. The last time we travelled more than a couple of hundred metres from our home, was in February 2020. Little did we know, our flight from London to Vancouver was going to be one of the last planes we would board for the foreseeable future.¬†In a short space of a few months, the steady increase in the aviation boom for the last 10 years came to a grinding halt. Resulting in many airlines on the brink of collapse.

Sadly, the disease has killed hundreds of thousands of people around the world. We just hope people are keeping safe and respecting the seriousness of the situation. Stay home and help stop the spread of the disease.

Back in February 2020

Casting ourselves back to early February, the situation was very different. Most Governments in the West were complacent about the risk of COVID-19, and travel was still permitted. We had trips booked to Canada, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, South Korea and Chile to look forward to. Confidence in travel was still high, even though the outbreak was getting more prevalent outside of Asia and China. The Foreign Office was saying its OK to travel, but they were advising against non-essential travel to certain regions with the COVID-19 outbreak. Countries like the US and UK just announced travel restrictions for flights from China.

Based on advice and from our research, we saw the risk of getting coronavirus while flying was low – with minimal insight into exactly how it spreads. So we planned to continue with our trip to Canada. We even wrote a blog about why we would continue to travel amid the coronavirus outbreak. Suffice to say, we had to update our blog extensively as the situation evolved. Changing our tone from, it’s OK to travel and the risk being low to encouraging people to stay at home to save lives.

Off we went to Canada – a week skiing in Whistler and a couple of days of being a tourist in Vancouver. It was an amazing trip and we were glad we went. We were still naive to how coronavirus has changed the world of travel.

British Airways First Class 747 Cabin before coronavirus changed the world of travel
British Airways First Class Cabin – picture taken in February 2020 on our flight to Vancouver from London

Escalating severity in March 2020

When we got back from Canada at the end of February, the severity of COVID-19 was escalating. By March, everything changed and we started to see the severity of the disease.

We had upcoming flights to Seoul with a stop over in Abu Dhabi. We found an amazing deal to fly Etihad Airways First Class Apartments, and have been looking forward to the experience for months. On 21 February, South Korea’s Center of Disease of Prevention and Control announced a sudden jump in COVID-19 cases and news of how one person responsible for the spread of the disease emerged.

We are intrepid travellers and travel sparks joy in our lives. We love the anticipation of an upcoming holiday, whether it’s seeing a new country or returning to one that we’ve been to before, they both spark joy. Learning about a new country and experiencing its culture is a great way to enrich our souls. Cancelling a trip was a massive blow for us.

Etihad Airways First Class Apartment before coronavirus changed the world
Etihad Airways First Class Apartment – this picture alone has whet our appetites. Unfortunately, we had to cancel our trip to South Korea ūüôĀ

Always understand the terms and conditions of your booking

We watched the evolving situation closely. Hoping things would change. Within days of the outbreak in South Korea, we knew it would be impossible for us to travel. We knew the situation was only going to get worse. So we cancelled our trip. As aviation enthusiasts, we were clear about the terms and conditions of our booking. To protect ourselves further, we would always book with a credit card and have comprehensive travel insurance. Our tip when booking any ticket, always read the small print!

We recited our cancellation policy to Amex travel when we cancelled. Although, we encountered several problems in getting our refund paid promptly, we escalated the problem and persevered. We got our money back eventually. We know many people are still waiting for their refunds. Know your rights – airlines must offer you a cash refund if they cancel your flight. You may choose to accept a voucher, but you don’t have to. As our ticket was fully flexible we got all our money back… sometimes it does help to pay a little more. We were lucky that we did on this occasion.

When we returned from Canada at the end of February we didn’t expect that in less than three weeks, on 17 March 2020 the Foreign Office in the UK would advised against all non-essential travel Globally. Once we understood the importance of staying at home to stop the spread, we thought it was wise to cancel all our upcoming trips.

Fast forward to April 2020

Fast forward to April 2020, we have now canceled all our upcoming flights. Luckily we got all our money back for our flight bookings to Sweden, United Arab Emirates, Chile and South Korea. The only trip we have kept, is a non-refundable business class flight with SwissAir and Lufthansa to Hong Kong that we booked in the sale. As we can’t cancel without a penalty, we decided to hold on to the flight booked for the end of 2020. We remain hopeful that one day we’ll be able to travel again. While Lufthansa’s future hangs in the balance, we expect that luxury air travel will change dramatically. Unknowingly, the last time we travelled would actually be the height of luxury air travel and we predict that things will be a lot less extravagant.

But that’s not important. The disease has killed hundreds of thousands of people around the world. We just hope people are keeping safe.

What’s next for us?

Coronavirus has changed the world of travel. It has (and continues to be) a very challenging time for many people and it was important for us to be sensitive to the evolving situation. As a result, we decided to stop writing any reviews for while and went into a bit of a hiatus. However, if you’re considering if airline points are still worth collecting, we have write a blog post about it. We didn’t think it was appropriate to write about travel when many people are having a really tough time.

However, in taking a step back from travelling and writing up our reviews, we have spent a lot of time redesigning our website. We hope you like our newly launched website! We now have a massive catalogue of blogs that we’re now planning on writing to try and escape from the daily challenges we all face. Expect to see some new blogs coming up. As airlines are on the brink of collapse and airport lounges close across the world, we think it’s important to write these up. As some flights and lounge reviews will probably be destined to be a historical account of what things were like.

Our prediction for the future of aviation and travel

The last time we travelled was probably the peak of luxury travel – things will never be the same again. It will take many years for the economy and aviation industry to get back to where we were back in February 2020.

Our prediction for the future of aviation and travel

  • Confidence in flying and being confined in small spaces will mean that people don’t feel comfortable with flying until they feel the risk is eliminated. A further blow for airlines. 
  • Airlines will change the configuration of their seating, with the potential to add more premium seats on flights
  • Airlines without deep pockets or support from their governments will risk going bankrupt, so be cautious about booking with these 
  • Business travellers, that historically were willing to pay astronomical prices for travel in premium cabins, will significantly reduce. As more businesses adapt to working remotely and recover from the impact of COVID-19, the flight market will be dominated by tourism
  • Already common in Asia, temperature checks will become more frequent at airports and you’ll be expected to wear face coverings/masks
  • Countries will restrict movement of people and refuse entry, or force a two weeks quarantine when you arrive. Countries like New Zealand that has eliminated the disease will unlikely allow people to enter until there is a vaccine
  • Consumer choice of airlines to travel will greatly reduce, resulting in certain routes to be very expensive (once people feel confident in travelling) 
  • Service on airplanes will be very basic, gone are the days of luxury three course meals served with wine in premium cabins. What you’ll get is a plastic box served by cabin crew in personal protective equipment 

Coronavirus has changed the world of travel – do stay in touch

We are already having a sense of wanderlust, so will be following the situation closely. The million dollar question is “when can we travel again?”. So do keep in touch (virtually, of course). Sign up to our newsletter or visit our blog again as try to answer the million dollar question. In the meantime, comment below as we would love to hear from you, and stay safe.

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