Throughout the ongoing Covid-19 era, most have likely been asking themselves and others, “when will we be able to fly again?”
Where, how far, how much has flying changed and how much will it cost? While a range of answers and perspectives have already been provided through online media and news, we’ve taken to our Social Media channels to gather questions. As a result, we figured: who better to help us provide answers than someone who actually works in the industry?
Susanna Sundberg is a first officer working for Brussels Airlines. She agreed to share her views on our questions and how this has impacted her and the field she works in. Our goal is to help widen your view and understanding. Enjoy!
JetKids: There are so many articles on how Covid-19 has affected us all, and especially in your industry. We know this has affected us all, but has this changed you? Do you look at anything differently, for better or worse?
Susy: I don’t know if it will change me in the long term, but short term for sure. I was born as an impulsive last-minute traveler. I love making improvised decisions and leave the same day. Of course, it is more difficult having kids, but we have continued to travel impulsively together with our daughter. Since the travel bans began to ease we immediately started to look for possible destinations again, but shorter trips closer to home. Stay-cation feels much more attractive now than ever. Everything needs to be well planned and pre-booked now, and that is something I am not used to. Maybe it will make me a bit less impulsive and lead to more well-planned travel. I do appreciate our own home much more than before, and I realized that I don’t HAVE TO travel to be happy. I start seeing travel more as a luxury and that is something that I think will stay with me for the rest of my life.
JetKids: Younger generations are used to traveling a certain way. Do you think we are capable of changing our expectations and habits, and will it be enough for us to keep on traveling safely?
Susy: Yes, and I hope so! It has almost become standard to travel to exotic places like Kenya, Maldives & Nepal for holidays while not fully appreciating what we have closer to home. Social media has helped spread photos from exotic locations, making people think that is the standard. I think we will see more travel inspiration from “normal places” again and reduce the pressure of showing off luxury destinations favor of city trips, charters, and camping trips.
When it comes to safety I do think the current health climate will become a new normal. To travel with face masks and limiting the number of tourists in certain places might be necessary.
JetKids: What are you looking forward to the MOST going back to work again?
Susy: The change of scenery and “me time”. I love the flying part but I also look forward to layovers, having a lazy morning & breakfast, and mindlessly strolling around a new city for hours.
JetKids: Both as a pilot and a passenger, would you prepare differently for your next family travel than before? What are your summer vacation plans?
Susy: Yes, there are some changes but nothing major. We had already planned a low key vacation to Corsica this summer but changed that one to a mini-vacation to the Champagne region in France. We decided not to fly since we didn’t know if there would be any flights available and chose a destination accessible by car instead. We live only a few hours away, so it’s the perfect destination. Our next family trip will probably be to Sweden to see my family. I miss them a lot and haven’t been to Sweden for a very long time now.
I think this might be a winning concept for us and I believe that we will do more shorter trips like this for the next 1-2 years instead of longer flights.
JetKids: With safety issues taken into consideration, do you feel comfortable going back to work within this “new normal”, and welcoming all of us on board again?
Susy: Yes I do! I think the changes will be less noticeable than we think. Wearing face masks onboard, using hand sanitizers & medical/temperature checks will probably be required for almost all air travel initially, or at least until vaccines are found. If we can get used to that I think air travel will be almost the same as before. The air onboard an airplane is filtered and very safe, so no need to worry in my opinion. All we need is to use common sense, only travel when we are healthy, and follow the guidelines.
JetKids: If you were to mention three things about airline travel that have changed the last months, what would that list include? Do you think the changes being made are permanent or will they go back?
Susy: The biggest change is that we can’t take anything for granted anymore. Destinations will open and close and we need to be flexible and able to change our plans. I also think we all realize that we can get a lot of work done from home, so maybe a bit less business travel in the future. Also, the safety measures will be something that stays with us, at least for certain periods of time (flu outbreaks, new pandemics, etc).
JetKids: Who do you think will be the first to start traveling again?
Susy: Young people for sure, and maybe parents who have spent months at home with young kids need a little break too. The good thing is, we humans forget quickly. I think we will travel at full force again very soon, young and old.
JetKids: What are the most common questions you get nowadays? Have they changed a lot from earlier?
Susy: I get a lot of questions about training and if it’s possible for a pilot to just start flying again after being on the ground for a long time. The answer is simple, yes, we need training. I will have spent 3-4 months without flying and that requires ground courses as well as flight training in a simulator.
JetKids: Rumor has it the rates on airline tickets will go through a bit of a change, getting cheaper before it gets a lot more expensive. Do you think that’s true and why do you think that is? Has this affected your own airline staff benefits?
Susy: I think it will fluctuate a bit initially, but stabilize sooner than we think. As soon as the airlines see where the booking trends are heading towards they will know when to stabilize the ticket prizes as well. I do believe that booking months in advance will always be the best way to get cheap tickets! For our staff travel tickets, there are no major changes, but I am still cautious to travel standby since we don’t really know how quickly the planes will fill up.
JetKids: And finally, if you had one message to all of us who will join you at your “office” soon, what would that be?
Susy: Don’t be afraid to travel, but study new regulations and travel advice carefully. Other than that, enjoy your trip! We will be very happy to fly you to your destination.
Now we turn to our fans and followers on Instagram (@jetkidscom), asking what you wanted to learn and know from a pilot. Here’s what you’ve asked Susanna:
- How do you keep the plane safe from diseases? There are many ways! We clean and disinfect the planes better than ever, use and replace air filters, advise the use of hand sanitizers and face masks, and limit some services onboard (magazines, in-flight shopping etc). Measures are also taken at the airport, before boarding, to prevent spreading of diseases.
- When will we fly again as before? Probably when a vaccine or successful treatment is found. Until then I think we need to accept some new travel habits.
- Do you lock planes? Yes, we have different ways of locking airplanes. Smaller planes can be locked simply with a key. Bigger planes are security sealed so we can see if a door or hatch has been opened.
- How about germs? The best ways to protect yourself and others are to use a face mask and maintain good hand hygiene. And, of course, never travel when you or your family have been recently ill.
- Will this situation permanently affect the in-flight service on airlines?No, I don’t think so. This is all new for us and we are trying to find the best solutions for the moment, but I don’t think it will be like this forever.
- How does this affect the carry-on allowance from now on? That will depend on which airline you are flying with. To allow social distancing onboard the amount of hand-luggage onboard might be more restrictive than before.
- How about meals and safety for the crew with the new restrictions?As far as I know, nothing has changed regarding our meals. We do, however, have face masks and some new procedures to follow.
Now we ask you:
Has this affected you in the long term? Do you think you will be able to fly as you did before or have you adopted new procedures yourself?
Stay Safe and fly high!