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11 Things You Won’t See in Airports Anymore

Even with more people traveling now, things still won't be completely back to normal for quite some time.

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People are traveling again! With the number of vaccinations on the rise, mask mandates being lifted, and the world slowly returning to its pre-pandemic state, people are eager to buy plane tickets. Let’s face it—we all have a bit of cabin fever after the last year, so we don’t blame you for wanting to get out of your house. But things still may look a little different with all of these post-COVID changes. At this point, nothing is for certain, which we know can be stressful since we all are keen on knowing what a post-coronavirus world could look like. But we asked some travel experts what their predictions are for the airline industry after the pandemic, particularly in airports. They all seem to agree that traveling will be completely altered, similar to how drastic changes were implemented after 9/11.

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New 3-D Explosives Scanner Installed At TSA Checkpoint At Miami Airport
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David A. Banmiller, a former CEO and aviation industry insider, claims that staff will be reduced in order to limit contact including in baggage, security, and boarding. Travelers will be taking new measures to go through these steps at the airport to ensure less human-to-human contact. Online check-in will become standard along with each passenger scanning their own tickets and printing luggage tags at home.

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Passengers boarding an airplane through a boarding bridge
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Quick turnaround

Shelly of Concierge Travel has seen the length of time on the ground between two different flights on the same aircraft double from around 20 minutes to 40 minutes. Why? Because the staff is thoroughly disinfecting the plane. This could result in fewer flights overall and many last-minute schedule changes.

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overhead locker on airplane,Passenger put cabin bag cabin on the top shelf. Travel concept
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Carry-on bags

Brian Altomare of Lugless says that some U.S. airlines may soon begin charging $65 for carry-on luggage at the gate. Comparatively, it only costs $35 for your first checked bag on JetBlue. People will opt for the cheaper option of checking more bags or cramming more essentials into checked bags in order to avoid paying for a carry-on.

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Notebook Computer At Airport
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Security bins

Steve Deane of Stratos Jets says that airports will completely remove the bins at security as they can be handled by hundreds of travelers every day without ever being cleaned. When going through security, travelers will place their items directly on the conveyor belt.

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I'll Miss You!
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Romantic goodbyes

Marketing director Isabel Ludick claims that non-fliers will still not be permitted to be at the airport to limit crowds even further. “Only passengers and staff are allowed in the airport terminal building,” she claims. “I predict this will remain in place for the foreseeable future. This restriction makes sense, but it completely disrupted the charm of airports for me, personally. Those heartfelt goodbyes and long overdue hellos are most likely not going to be the same again.”

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crowded passenger waiting lounge area in an airport
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Congested lounge areas

Joe Spencer, the owner of Holiday Park Ace, believes that there will be more designated lounge space for each flight so travelers will be able to spread out before boarding. While there is usually one designated space per flight, two to three areas may become the new normal.

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Private Jet. Airport. Private Plane. Runaway. Private plane ready for boarding
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Minimal private jets

Doug Gollan, the founder of Private Jet Card Comparisons, foresees a surge in private aviation. The wealthier population, who could previously afford private travel but couldn’t justify the added costs, have now deemed the expense warranted for both business and leisure travel.

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Nathan's Famous fast food hot dogs concession counter inside Miami International Airport.
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Quick lines for food

Cruise concierge Mitch Krayton believes that every step of travel will take more time due to disinfecting several times per day. Travelers will have to be more patient and allot more time for lines, eating, and daily activities.

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childrens play area inside an airport terminal
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Play areas

Corritta Lewis, founder of It’s a Family Thing, has been traveling all throughout the pandemic and things are more challenging for people with young kids. “A lot of the play areas are closed, with many being removed permanently,” she says. “This is a huge blow for parents traveling with young children, so we have to find other ways to entertain our kids during layovers.”

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A long line of travelers waits to board a flight at Newark International Airport, Newark, New Jersey
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Packed gates

Gates used to be crammed with eager travelers ready to get on the plane. “Now, travelers are avoiding standing in tight lines or sitting in the connected seats at each gate,” claims travel blogger Emily Cuneo. “This, in turn, causes massive lines and confusion since desk agents aren’t sure who is waiting for each gate in a terminal.” Travels can also anticipate seeing more plexiglass and other barriers at the gate to offer more protection.

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Family with bare faces walking by window at airport terminal
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Bare faces

For the time being, passengers still need to wear a mask in the airport and on the airplane. “This includes the airport terminal,” explains travel expert Andrew Lock. If you’re planning that long-anticipated getaway, make sure you know about these things you won’t be able to do on cruises anymore.


Emma Taubenfeld
Emma Taubenfeld is a former assistant editor for Reader’s Digest who writes about digital lifestyle topics such as memes, social media captions, pickup lines and cute pets. When she’s not working, you can find Emma reading corny young adult novels, creating carefully curated playlists and figuring out how to spice up boxed mac and cheese.