Life After COVID-19: How Did the Pandemic Change Our Approach to Air Travel?

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The far-reaching effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic took a toll on almost every industry imaginable, but the travel industry was hit particularly hard. With travel bans and shelter-in-place directives limiting folks’ ability to fly, airlines began canceling a record number of flights as the number of people traveling by air dropped sharply. According to The New York Times, the number of commercial flights had, in August of 2020, dropped by 43% of what they'd been pre-pandemic, but to some experts this was cause for celebration. They considered this the "best figure" since March of 2020 — and since the 77% drop in flights that occurred in April of that year.

Needless to say, the once-booming aviation industry was hit hard by the pandemic. So hard, in fact, the industry received $54 billion in bailout money from Congress — and it took more than a year from the beginning of the pandemic for even one airline to begin posting profits again. 

Since restrictions began lifting and the COVID-19 vaccines became available to most of the U.S. population, it became evident that people were itching to fly the friendly skies again, with NPR reporting that, in just over a year since the pandemic began, air travel had risen back up to pre-pandemic levels.  What's also become clear is that we shouldn't expect things to just "go back to normal," no matter how much we might want them to. The COVID-19 pandemic showed us that there’s no going back, period — there’s just going to be a new normal to adjust to, and for airports, airlines and passengers, this new normal likely means new rules.