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Will We Ever Be Allowed To Travel Again?

3 min read
That’s the recurring question on everyone’s lips. The answer depends on a number of factors, chief of which is how well countries manage their COVID-19 situation. Here’s a look at what needs to happen before travel recovers, and the rough shape it will assume once it takes off.

Vaccination rollouts are well under way in countries around the world. With that, many are starting to wonder when they will be allowed to travel freely again. Brian Pearce, chief economist at the International Air Transport Association (IATA), predicts that 2019 levels of travel will only return in 2024.

Before travel can return to the way it used to be, a few things need to take place. International borders will have to open up, and travellers will need to feel safe before they are ready to board a plane. When it takes off again, we can expect international travel to look a little different from what it was pre-COVID-19.

Digital health certificates will become a central feature of air travel. IATA has rolled out a Travel Pass, a mobile health verification app that electronically captures a traveller’s vaccination history and COVID-19 test results; these are to be shown at cross-border checks. Singapore is one of the countries that has accepted pre-departure COVID-19 PCR test results on the IATA Travel Pass for entry into the country.

Singapore Airlines was also the first airline to announce it would test the IATA Travel Pass on flights from Singapore to London.Following that, more than 20 airlines have announced trials of the app.

Vaccine passports are being issued by several countries, including China, the European Union and Japan. The passports are proof of vaccination when boarding a plane or checking into a hotel.

Travellers will take up COVID-19 insurance policies as more countries require coverage in case visitors fall ill from that particular coronavirus. Confirming this was Jeremy Murchland, president of an Indiana-based travel insurance company. He was quoted as saying in a Reuters article that travellers are “more likely to insure their trips”, as more countries require COVID-19 coverage.

Travel experts predict a rise in airfares throughout 2021. Airlines have cut the number of flights they operate and have grounded aircraft due to reduced demand. This in turn has caused prices to shoot up.

With governments needing to turn lockdown measures on and off according to spikes in COVID-19 cases, the windows of opportunity to travel may also last only for weeks or days, foresees Avi Meir, CEO of the business travel platform, TravelPerk. “Even with airlines desperate to get airborne, seats will be limited, and we could see dramatic increases in pricing during those windows,” he predicts.

Those suffering from a cold will not be welcome on a plane. While there is no concrete evidence to support this view, Meir surmises even those who have built up immunity will be hesitant to travel with a cold. “The looks you will get if you cough or sneeze at an airport or on a plane will be scathing,” he observes. “I predict that social stigma will put a lot of people off, resulting in the potential for more no-shows on travel days (once prices are stable).” 

As and when COVID-19 is finally kept under control, and international borders are open for self-driving holidays again, having an International Driving Permit (IDP) is an essential item should you decide to travel this way, especially to countries where English is not commonly used. AA Singapore is authorised to issue IDP. For more information, click here.

In the meanwhile, AA Singapore would like to take this opportunity to urge our Members and the wider community to remain vigilant and get vaccinated against COVID-19 to keep you and your loved ones safe.

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