Cloud in the sky with sunset/sunrise
Tips
Airlines

Flying in 2022: What’s Changed Since COVID?


If you’ve been lucky enough to get away in the last 2 years, you’ll know that flying has changed quite a bit since the coronavirus’ worldwide breakout in 2020.

From closed terminals, contactless check-in, one way systems, travel passes and even blocked out middle seats, the world of aviation was doing everything that it could at the beginning of the pandemic to both stop the transmission of coronavirus and reduce operation costs.

As we come out of the other end of the pandemic and travel restrictions are gradually lifted globally, you might be asking yourself exactly what has changed when taking a flight in 2022? What hasn’t changed? And what measures have airlines and airports kept in place?

We’ve put together a list of some of the biggest changes that COVID has had on taking a flight and whether they’ll still impact you when you take a flight today, in 2022.

Inside of plane cabin

1) Face cover mandates

Face covers became one of the most practised ways that people have protected themselves and others from the spread of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Despite many countries dropping the legal requirement to wear one in public, it’s not something that airlines are ready to give up on yet.

Most airlines will still require you to wear a face covering when flying, even when travelling between countries, where wearing a face covering in public spaces is not a legal requirement. And, if you don’t have a face covering, the airline can and will refuse you boarding.

While at the airport, face covering mandates differ from airport to airport. But, in general, the rules of wearing a face covering within airports are more relaxed than they were in 2020 and 2021. Most airports will advise you to wear a face covering but might not make it mandatory unless it’s a legal requirement within the country.

As always, we advise that you check with the airline that you’re flying with and the airports that you’re flying from/to before you fly to ensure that you have the most accurate and up-to-date information.

2 People Sitting at Airport/Station with Masks

Did you know? When booking your flight through Alternative Airlines, we display you the real-time safety and cleaning procedures for your specific flight (including whether face covers are required) when choosing your flight.

2) Reduced in-flight services

Many of the services that were running in-flight before COVID-19 may no longer be active. For example, most airlines reduced their in-flight menu and haven’t yet gone back to running a full menu. Similarly, many of the airlines that previously offered pre-order food and drink services have stopped these services and are yet to resume them.

On top of this, physical in-flight menus are more of a rarity on board than they used to be, with menus now available online, via app or only available upon request.

But, don’t worry too much. The in-flight experience isn’t totally unrecognisable. There are many services that have returned or never went away! For example, if you’re flying long-haul in 2022, you’ll still be able to use the airline’s in-flight entertainment to pass the time.

Shared in-flight entertainment screen on plane

3) Reduced services at the airport

With less air traffic and fewer traveller throughput, airports had to drastically reduce their services. That meant fewer restaurants, shops and coffee shops open, the elimination of in-person check-in staff (where possible) and even entire terminals closed.

Airports have started reopening their services. But, if you’re flying in 2022, expect some parts of the airport to remain closed. Even services as simple as pre-ordering currency to pick up at the airport have not returned to every airport.

Sorry We-re Closed Sign Shop Window

4) Contactless payment

While not all airlines have gone contactless, there are many airlines that have and you shouldn’t be surprised if your flight is cash-free. Many airlines stopped accepting cash on their flights to minimise the risk of spreading COVID and it’s a real possibility that they won’t return to accepting cash in the future.

There are some airlines that still accept cash. But, to avoid getting caught out, it’s a good idea to make sure that you have your card or digital wallet on person if you plan to buy something in-flight.

Contactless Card/Phone Payment

5) Travel restrictions

The world is reopening. And, while we’ve seen the worst of global travel restrictions (knock on wood), there’s still a lot to work out when flying abroad. Travel restrictions are still changing fairly frequently and differ depending on several factors, such as where you’re flying to and from, the passport you hold and whether you’ve been vaccinated or not.

To make things easier, Alternative Airlines has created a travel hub, which answers all questions that you have about travel restrictions for your trip via an easy-to-use interactive map.

To use it, visit our COVID travel hub, select the destinations that you’re flying between, your passport nationality and your vaccination status to view any travel restrictions between any two destinations!

Alternative Airlines COVID Map US India

6) Regular fare rules

If you bought a flight at the height of the pandemic, you may have been blessed by free cancellation or free schedule changes.

To increase people’s confidence to book flights, many airlines were waiving change or cancellation fees, in case their plans changed. That meant that you could cancel your flight and receive a refund, free of charge OR change your flight and only have to pay the fare difference.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. And this isn’t something that airlines are offering anymore.

But, booking with the confidence that you can cancel at any time and get a refund doesn’t have to be a distant dream that once was. At Alternative Airlines, we offer the ability to add Cancellation Protection to your flight at the time of booking, which essentially does the same thing! Cancellation Protection will cover you if you need to cancel your flight for a range of different unforeseen reasons, including COVID-19.

COVID Safety Measures Select Flight

To keep up to date on all of the latest news, follow us on social media!

Last updated: