Frequent flyers key to aviation recovery

Huge survey reveals three-quarters of frequent travellers are ready to fly again and that demand for airport lounges will increase, but clarity is needed on quarantines and border controls  

A survey of 22,000 members of the global frequent flyer programme, Priority Pass, revealed that most travellers who fly regularly are ready to get back on board an aircraft as soon as restrictions are lifted. 

Nearly 3 in 4 (71%) are eager to return to travel immediately or within the next three to six months.

The global survey also revealed that unpredictable factors such as quarantines and border controls represent travellers’ top concern about returning to air travel – 74% identify this as a worry, and accordingly, half of travellers are willing to pay for a COVID-19 test to help ease travel restrictions. 

How will COVID-19 change the lounge experience? 

First and foremost, the demand for lounges is expected to increase as travellers look to get away from the main areas where people gather in airports. 

Collinson Lounge

The challenge for lounge providers will be managing that pressure to ensure that people can still access the facilities and do so safely. 

Andy Besant, director of travel experiences at Collinson, the owner of Priority Pass, commented: “The perception of the airport lounge is changing in the COVID-19 era. Frequent flyers now see the lounge as not only a place for refreshments and amenities, but also a necessary part of the journey where they can feel safe and at-ease. Our survey results leave no doubt that frequent flyers want to make more use of lounge access.”

Lounge Seating

In June, Collinson – which has a lounge network comprising 1,200 sites in programmes such as Priority Pass, LoungeKey and Lounge Pass – launched a set of global health and safety standards for airport lounges. 

Lounge Collinson

The guidelines comprise a number of steps including the provision of PPE, floor markers for social distancing, evaluation of furniture layout to adhere to social distancing, increased cleaning, switching air filtration to 100% outside source if possible, contact-free solutions for food and drink service, and the removal of print media. 

What about the airport experience? 

In terms of the overall airport environment, travellers want and expect a contactless journey. According to the survey, 80% of passengers would like to see contactless payment options across the journey the next time they travel, and 58% want access to real-time heatwave maps of the airport to avoid crowded areas. 

The addition of heat maps, to indicate to passengers where the crowded parts of the airport are, is an interesting proposition and one that has been trialled before. London City Airport partnered with CrowdVision to install technology that detects high concentrations of passengers who can then be directed to quieter parts of the facility.  

London City Airport
London City Airport implemented technology with monitors the density of passengers in certain areas of the facility. London City Airport

It is clear, however, that the overall airport experience will be drastically different the next time you decide to jet off somewhere. But this survey clearly demonstrates that most frequent flyers want to come back to travel, and that the lounge will have an important part to play in their decision making about returning to the air.