Holidays: What big changes are facing travellers? Expert shares how you can stay safe

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Flights in the wake of the coronavirus crisis come with a plethora of new rules and regulations. What can travellers expect in the months to come as the world emerges from the pandemic? Express.co.uk spoke exclusively to Sergio Colella, President for Europe of SITA, the world’s leading specialist in air transport communications and information technology, to find out his travel advice.

Colella explained that border changes mark a big shift as we move into the new normal.

“One of the main challenges travelling internationally, particularly for long-haul travel, is the rapid changes we are experiencing at the border,” he said.

“This makes planning travel increasingly more difficult.

“For one, this will require more agility from airlines to manage these rapidly changing restrictions, and passengers, in turn, will increasingly demand easy-to-use solutions, that provide the right information for them to plan their travel accordingly.”

Colella also warned more passenger information might well be collected.

“Visa or travel authorisation process requirements may increase as health information may be incorporated into these checks, up to the point of departure,” the expert explained.

“This also gives passengers clarity, so they can plan their travel.

“Collected from airlines, Advance Passenger Information and travel booking data enables the government to carry out additional risk assessments, including passengers travelling from high-risk areas.

“For the short term, SITA does not expect health information to be incorporated into this data, but this may happen in the future.

“Governments will need to come together with airlines to define standards in this area.”

Colella went on to explain that pre-clearance of a passenger to fly in real-time is probably the most critical step.

“Governments with an Advance Passenger Processing (APP) solution can deny boarding of a passenger who is deemed high risk, or who may not have completed mandatory health declarations,” he said.

“Through the pandemic, SITA has been supporting governments around the world so that they can adapt their APP pre-clearance checks.

“When these steps have been achieved, the border agency can then handle low-risk passengers in a seamless, low-touch way using biometrics, without the need for excessive queuing at the border.

“We also enable efficient analysis of incoming flights and passenger data, to assess risk and provide follow-up services if passengers need to be contacted for health reasons.”

Colella also advised on how travellers can say safe when travelling.

“It is important to follow the guidelines from the airlines and airports when travelling such as wearing face coverings at all times, board and disembark one row at a time and be seated apart from others during flights if possible,” he said.

The expert advocated the use of automated passenger solutions.

“Automation is of paramount importance in enabling the ‘touchless’ journey,” said Collela.

“It is at the airport that we see this having a notable effect.

“Contactless, self-service technologies at every step will facilitate passenger flow, cutting queues while ensuring a social distancing-friendly passenger experience.”

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