Travel Tips

2020 in Review: New Amenities You’ll See at Airports

In response to COVID-19, the world and the way we travel have changed dramatically in the past several months. Some of these trends that we believed would be temporary -- whole-office remote work, telemedicine, distance learning -- now seem like they just might be our new normal. Despite airports being hit hard when the pandemic first began, they’ve made adjustments to ensure that passengers are safe when they travel.

Airlines have opened new flight routes and revamped sanitation standards in response to traveler demand. Furthermore, to protect passengers, airport operations provide a safer, contactless experience. Are you ready for these changes?

Some of the advice and technology mentioned here are not new. However, now, they’re more important than ever. Here are 7 ways you can plan for a contactless airport travel experience.

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the way we work, play, and travel. Of course, one of the industries hit hardest was the aviation sector. As a result of Covid-19 and the resulting new normal for travelers, airlines and airports are forced to adapt. Airlines have added new flights to destinations that were previously unavailable, and airports have added restrictions on non-essential trips, and contactless security screening practices. But, that’s not all.

Aviation experts are in the process of examining the amenities that were most and least used in 2020, and airports are redesigning their facilities for a new wave of air travel given the current health and safety information available. Here, we’ll look at some of the newest sanitation, retail, and entertainment conveniences and equipment you can expect to see when you travel by air in the days and months to come.

Safety & Sanitation

Travelers want to feel safe, which is why airport management teams increased safety and sanitation amenities across the country. One of the most obvious and most common additions to airports are hand sanitizing stations, located throughout the facilities, both indoors and outside. These stations dispense sanitizer for travelers to access at-will. Airlines are also allowing travelers to bring a 12-ounce bottle of personal hand sanitizer in carry-ons in addition to their customary liquid allowance.

Another helpful introduction at airports are PPE vending machines. Around the globe, many travelers are now able to purchase masks, sanitation wipes, liquid hand sanitizer, and other PPE equipment from self-service machines located inside terminals.

If you travel by air, you can expect new temperature check programs upon your arrival to the airport. Some airports are even adding COVID-19 testing stations that travelers can take advantage of during the week prior to departure.

Contactless check-in has been around for some time. Recently, airports added even more passenger access to contactless bag check, security screening, and boarding. By limiting the amount of contact that travelers have with TSA and airline staff, everyone can trust that they are safer while traveling.

To take safety and sanitation to a new level, some airports purchased cleaning & sanitizing robots to automate some of the custodial work. Similar tech is used in hospitals and other facilities. The robots use UV light to kill viruses and bacteria on surfaces and in the air.

Retail & Concessions

Airports are known for their food, retail, and concessions options, with their food and shopping courts growing increasingly more akin to a shopping mall experience. With the onset of COVID-19 though, travelers have been more wary of congested high-traffic areas in the airport, and governments restricted the close contact required for a traditional retail experience.

In response, retail sales across the board initially plummeted. While stores were closed, many vendors had up to 100% loss in sales from the previous year during some months. While the effects of these losses are still being felt, airport retailers have found solutions.

One measure taken by food service, in general, but specifically at airports is contactless food orders & delivery. Platforms like AtYourGate and Grab now offer air travelers an e-commerce option for food service.

Like PPE, food and other consumer items are now more readily available in airport vending machines, especially in larger airports where social distancing is more challenging. Many of these vending machines could replace some conventional airport retail permanently.

Arts & Entertainment

When you think of airports, you may not consider them a resource for arts and entertainment. Though you might have predicted airports would balance new safety measures with consumers’ needs during travel to create better, safer ways to eat and shop, you might not have anticipated airports’ responsiveness to travelers’ need to pass time during layovers. Luckily, travelers need not solely rely on their mobile device for entertainment.

One surprising trend we’ve seen is the creation of new drive-in movies at airports. California’s Ontario International Airport, Akron-Canton Airport, Nebraska’s Lincoln Airport, and a few others, offered this amenity at some point in 2020. Perhaps we can expect others to follow suit. If you’re killing time during a long layover, you may want to rent a car to take advantage.

Airports are also live streaming music performances on large screens for travelers to enjoy. For example, Austin-Bergstrom International has a regular live, local musician showcase. Other airports live stream shows from all over the world in their terminals.

This year, we also saw some airports add new art displays. New York’s LaGuardia Airport opened a new water feature in Terminal B that doubles as a Big Apple themed light show. Dallas Fort Worth International Airport added a Coca-Cola themed lounge to their facility. The lounge features the obvious Coke vending machines, as well as a sense of the brand’s history through display cases filled with vintage artifacts and memorabilia. “The mini-museum has an 1896 syrup urn and pieces from ad campaigns featuring Run DMC, Max Headroom, and the Coca-Cola Polar Bear.”

Final Takeaway

As we look back on the aviation industry’s response to the pandemic, we see a lot of changes and momentum. New health and safety amenities for travelers are sprouting up at airports across the country, and the globe, as are adjusted accommodations for fun and safe retail and entertainment experiences. Travelers are always encouraged to follow the latest CDC guidelines before heading to the airport.

The Parking Spot has also responded to COVID-19 by providing an increasingly contact-reduced experience for travelers. Stay up-to-date on the safest ways to park and fly, and learn more about the precautions we’re taking to keep all our customers safe when you visit The Parking Spot.


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