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‘New Normal’ in Travel & Airport Hospitality According To Travelers

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Though 2020 was a catastrophic year for travel, the world is getting closer to returning to some form of normalcy in the year ahead. 

While the exact timetable of a full return to unrestricted travel is still up in the air, one thing that’s certain is that travel will never return to how it was pre-pandemic. Inevitably, the future will embrace a ‘new normal’ for travel. 

travelers airport

In an effort to dive deeper into what the future holds for the new normal in travel, Plaza Premium Group recently conducted a survey for travelers and published their findings in their report entitled “What is the ‘New Normal’ in Airport Hospitality?”.

The survey gathered 2000 travelers, of which many were Plaza Premium loyalists, as respondents to questions relating to their expectations on future travel, such as when they are likely to travel, what precautions they’ll be taking when traveling and what they deemed essential for their preflight airport experience. 

When Travelers Expect to Travel Again

It appears that travel restrictions are the primary barrier keeping travelers at bay. According to the survey, the majority of respondents (59%) stated that they will start traveling again as soon as travel bans are lifted. Other respondents cited returning to travel to visit a country with no COVID-19 cases for a reasonable duration (14%), for business trips (11%), availability of vaccines (11%) and other (5%).

While travelers are well-aware of the circumstances required for them to resume travel, they are not certain when exactly they will occur. 

busy airport covid

When asked for a specific timeline to resume travel again, there was no clear majority, with the results as followed:

– 1-3 months (25%)
– 3-6 months (21%)
– 6-12 months (26%)
– Unknown (28%)

Access to Private Spaces

Granted that the survey was conducted by Plaza Premium Group, a company centered in airport hospitality, respondents were asked the significance of airport hotels or lounges in terminals post-pandemic as a means to minimize touchpoints and interactions with others. 

An overwhelming majority, 83%, of respondents stated that access to private spaces such as airport hotels or lounges was considered to be an essential service. 16% believed it was important but not necessary and 2% reported it to be not essential.

social distancing at airport

Most Important Preventative Measures During Travel

The survey questioned travelers as to what personal preventative measures they felt were most important when traveling, with prevailing COVID-19 measures such as mask-wearing and hand sanitizing leading the way. The complete findings are:

– Wearing a mask (83%)
-Carrying hand sanitizer, extra masks and alcohol wipes at all times (75%)
– Washing hands frequently (65%)
– Opting for private places for social distancing (55%)
– Avoid touching surfaces (44%)
– Boosting immunity with nutritious foods and supplements (23%)
– Other (1%)

Other Findings

Other areas the survey targeted were hand washing frequency, post-pandemic measures in airport lounges and how travelers access airport lounges

In regards to how often, on average, respondents intend to wash their hands:

– Every 1-3 hours (47%) 
– Every 30 minutes – 1 hour (26%)
– Every 3-6 hours (10%)
– Only before meals (9%) 
– Same frequency as pre-pandemic (6%)
– Only when offered or asked to (2%)

girl in mark temperature check at US airport

In terms of post-pandemic measures travelers deemed important while using airport lounges or hotels, the leading vote was for all the measures listed to be important. These measures were:

– Body temperature checks at reception
– Provision of hand sanitizers
– Practice social distancing
– Frequent sanitization of all areas
– Contactless experiences (payment, meal-ordering, etc.)
– Private spaces for individuals or small groups

airline attended in mask on plane

When asked how travelers usually access airport lounges, the majority (72%) stated they gain access through eligible credit cards.


The survey was conducted online through Survey Monkey. The survey was open for participation between August 31 to September 20, 2020. A total of 2000 respondents participated in the survey, which included Plaza Premium Group’s customer database and members of its loyalty programme Smart Traveller.

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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling.  Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories


Monday 21st of December 2020

Both my husband and I are wary to fly without pre-flight, and onboard, liquor service. Phobic fliers. There are many of us out there.

Also, inability to access required PCR testing, along with the hassle of getting what is available, is my main travel impediment right now. I otherwise have zero concerns about COVID, as a person in my 40's in good health, although I would not quarantine anywhere -- even somewhere nice -- just to travel.


Monday 21st of December 2020

If they had survived people outside their own little group they would have gotten a different opinion. As for me I'll fly when I leave this country for good.


Monday 21st of December 2020

The USA? Trust me, I’ll be leaving with you.