Will technology get us back in the air despite COVID-19?

Cate Lawrence
5 min readNov 26, 2020

COVID-19 has had a mammoth impact on the travel industry, with many businesses bankrupt and employees left without work. Border closures have hit the aviation industry hard. Fortunately, image recognition, machine learning, IoT, and location intelligence are creating new travel solutions changing the end-to-end passenger experience.

2020 will be known as the year where tourist flights died a thousand deaths. Airlines filed for bankruptcy, pilots and travel agents looked for new careers, borders closed, and many tourists were left stranded due to canceled flights. COVID-19 created the need for greater hygiene and people monitoring to reduce the spread of the virus. But it’s not completely doom and gloom. Many startups are still hanging in there, and airports and airlines are exploring new technology and partnerships that change how we travel in preparation for a future where passenger numbers return.

For most of us, air travel’s pain points are everything before we climb aboard the plane and after we disembark. Fortunately, when we’re flying again, technology is here to ease the pain.

No more queuing at embassies

Need a visa? Applying for a visa can be time-consuming, especially if it involves embassy visits. Queuing in close quarters is less than desirable during a pandemic. Fortunately, UK startup The Visa Machine does the heavy lifting or acquiring visas for you, supplying and submitting paperwork to the embassies, facilitating payments, and returning your passport to you.

Concierge-style services no longer just for the rich

In Dubai, startup Dubz has created a home and hotel baggage collection and delivery service bookable online 24 hours a day. A DUBZ van and agent will come to you to weigh your bags, check you into your flight, and hand over your boarding passes at home. Your baggage is collected, disinfected with a long-lasting protective coating (against COVID-19), and delivered to the airport’s baggage drop. Upon your return, your bags are collected at the carousel and delivered to your home. Passengers also can access boarding fast track services, and a certified nurse is available to conduct at home COVID-19 testing. Prices start at 50 EUR.

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Cate Lawrence

Tech journo and writer, based in Berlin, Germany. I don't really write on medium much but you can find me on LinkedIn and Twitter