The covid19 crisis has hit the aviation industry hard, with many airlines being forced to ground their fleet and suspend employees until normalcy returns. Many travelers are still wondering if flying will ever be the same again. The truth is, the pandemic has changed the way we fly, and it may be for quite some time, at least until an effective coronavirus vaccine is invented. But perhaps more importantly, how will it be when you fly again? Airlines are gradually resuming to the air but with a new norm. Many changes may stay, a good thing for the passengers to know that the person seated next to them has passed all health checks.
For instance, let’s look at the situation in Lebanon. As of 10th December 2020, Lebanon had reported 142,187 covid19 cases with 1170 related deaths. On 30th November, the Lebanese government announced an end to the countrywide lockdown that has set businesses back in operation and movement of people. Travelling has resumed in Beirut International Airport but with new changes.
Covid19 remains a threat in Lebanon, and many measures have been put in place to curb its spread. For now, all travelers to Lebanon must show a negative covid19 test taken within 96hours of travel. No passenger is allowed to enter without meeting the covid19 test requirement.
In addition to that, health screenings at the airport are still taking place. Omar Kaddouha, airport and airline security specialist currently based at Beirut International Airport, Lebanon, as Directorate General of Civil Aviation, advises passengers to follow the local authorities’ guidelines or check with the nearest consulate of Lebanon regarding the latest entry requirements.
Temperature and security checks are in place at all entry points at the airport, and adherence to wearing masks and social distancing is mandatory for every traveler. The authorities are charging fines to people not wearing masks outside of their residences.
The Lebanese government is still implementing the 11 pm to 5 am curfew every day until otherwise. There are no movement restrictions for interstate traveling in the country, and international travelers must meet travel requirements before entry.
According to the guidelines issued by the Lebanese Directorate of Civil Aviation effective since September, travelers wishing to enter Lebanon from all countries with the exemption of Syria, Turkey, Iraq, or any African country must first undergo a PCR test in their home country. They should present a negative test report taken 96hours before arrival in Lebanon or be quarantined in a hotel for 10days.
Other travelers from the exempted countries mentioned above must take a PCR test upon arrival in Beirut International Airport and quarantine for 72hours in a hotel as they await results. Note that covid19 tests are to be paid for by the travelers. Moreover, all travelers must fill in a medical form given by the Lebanese Ministry of Public Health before boarding any flight.
According to experts, the future of flying is a highly sanitized one. With passengers wearing masks, temperature screening at entry points in airports, bags sanitized, and some airports facilitating touchless passenger processing, flying has changed. Although some of the airport protocols may die down after the pandemic, some changes are expected to go into the future, changing the passenger journey forever.
Written by: Omar Khaddouha