How Will Airline Lounges Change In A Post-COVID World?

In recent weeks we’ve seen airlines all over the world push out marketing material meant to reassure travelers that stepping onboard aircraft was safe, thanks to enhanced cleaning and the use of disinfectant sprays and PPE policies. While we are getting a good picture of what flights may look like post-COVID, what about airport lounges? In this article, we’ll look at what an airline’s lounge experience will be like post-pandemic.

How Will Airline Lounges Change In A Post-COVID World?
Essentially set-up to be a mix of café, restaurant, and office – the airport lounge as we once knew it might look different in the next few months. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

Until a vaccine is found

First off, it’s important to define what we mean when we say “post-COVID.” In this article, we’ll talk about what airport lounges might look like immediately upon reopening. This does not mean that the virus has been eradicated, but only that it is more under control than in previous months.

In this post-pandemic situation, likely, many of the precautions we see at reopened cafés and restaurants will be mimicked at lounges. This would make the most sense as lounges are essentially a hybrid café-restaurant-office space all rolled into one.

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How Will Airline Lounges Change In A Post-COVID World?
The lounge is another potential opportunity for an infected individual to spread a disease unknowingly. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

Pandemic precautions

Here are some of the things we are likely to see as lounges reopen in the aftermath of COVID-19:

Space restrictions: The first thing you may encounter is a more strictly enforced occupancy limit in the name of ‘social distancing.’ This may even be a limit that is lower than what it once was. Chairs may be removed to space guests out more. As a result, time limits on lounges might be imposed or enforced.

Wrapped food: For some lounges – especially those of ‘lower caliber,’ we may find that food is now wholly pre-packaged and wrapped up. There will no longer be self-serve options, which expose food to open air and airborne particles.

Food served by lounge staff: Alternately, and perhaps more for lounges offering an elevated experience for higher class travelers, hot food will be available – but only when served by lounge employees.

Enhanced cleaning: Just like aircraft, it’s likely that we’ll see more vigorous and frequent cleaning of lounges – with a particular focus on touchpoints such as door handles. This might even mean that we’ll see more staff on-hand to maintain a high standard of cleanliness at all times.

How Will Airline Lounges Change In A Post-COVID World?
Could it be possible that self-serve hot food will be a thing of the past? Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

After a vaccine is found

We can only hope that once a vaccine is found and widely distributed that precautions will ease. Indeed, a lounge is a part of the airport/airline business. Therefore, if the situation will allow for a relaxed posture, it will ultimately help a lounge become more profitable to have less cleaning staff while allowing more customers through the doors.

How Will Airline Lounges Change In A Post-COVID World?
Many lounges depend on incoming guests and pay-per-use fees. Thus it would be in their best interest if they could allow more guests while still ensuring public safety. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

If a vaccine is developed and there’s a reasonable guarantee that the risk of contracting COVID has gone down, then we can hope that lounges will slowly ease precautions. However, any good business will put the health and safety of its customers first, and thus it may take some time before we can go back to what was normal in 2019.

Do you agree with this assessment of post-COVID lounges? Is there anything we’re missing? Let us know in the comments.