November was a great month for aviation, as the industry watched airlines unroll carbon offsetting programs, updated testing options, creative campaigns, and even futuristic new technology. With the announcement of a potential vaccine, the aviation industry is preparing for the return of travel in 2021.
Read on for the latest ‘Intel in the Air’ news roundup, where we keep our users informed and in-the-know on the industry’s latest happenings.
COVID-19 Testing Steps into Travel
In the last few months, COVID-19 testing has made its way into airport terminals and airline policies. In November, airlines implemented testing into their product in a new way. Hawaiian Airlines announced that it will allow members to redeem saved up miles for a pre-travel COVID test. American Airlines expanded its COVID-19 testing procedures, allowing travelers to test themselves at home before boarding Caribbean flights, in partnership with LetsGetChecked. JetBlue announced that it will offer free testing at its terminal in New York, following in suit as other airlines adapt to this new normal. Beyond testing updates, the travel industry is preparing for the arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine by conceptualizing a ‘vaccine passport’ which would guarantee safe travel in 2021.
Carbon Offsetting Ramps Up for 2021
It seems that a common new years’ resolution among airlines is to get greener. This month, multiple airlines announced new plans and schemes to improve carbon offsetting processes. Alaska Airlines partnered with the Hawaii Tourism Authority to plant a tree for every flight operated to Hawaii, with plans to plant up to 900 trees by the end of the year. Qatar Airways partnered with IATA and ClimateCare to offset passenger flights, donating to the Fatanpur Wind Farm Project in India. Similarly, Wizz Air announced a program of its own, inviting passengers to offset the cost of their flights, funding two different projects aimed at making the world a little greener.
Airlines Lure Back Travelers with Creative Moves
Airlines continued developing creative campaigns to lure back travelers. In the past months, we’ve seen airlines announce flights to nowhere and selling cabin equipment to boost business during a year on the ground. The creativity continued in November, as Thai Airways announced its plans to operate a one-off ‘pilgrimage’ flight for Buddhists. Travelers onboard the once in a lifetime flight will fly over 99 holy sites in three hours, collecting a goodie bag and some good karma. Alaska Airlines continued its ‘Ski Free’ promotion, offering skiers free lift passes when booking with the airline. As we step into a new, and hopefully brighter, year, JetBlue is luring back first-class travelers with its updated Mint service. The premium class service has been relaunched to include trendy food and wellness amenities.
Flight Gets Futuristic.
November brought serious strides into the future of flight, as Virgin Hyperloop completed its first test with humans on board. The innovation in super-high-speed transportation brought two people flying at more than 100 mph in a futuristic pod. The completed technology will seat up to 28 passengers, and travel at more than 621 mph through a low-pressure tube using magnetic levitation. On the other side of the globe, a Dutch company is developing similar technology with the goal of transporting passengers from Paris to Amsterdam in just 90 minutes.
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