How to Reassure Reluctant Airline Travelers During COVID-19 (and Beyond)

Dec. 29, 2020

The airline industry has felt a significant jolt as consumer spending on air travel decreased during COVID-19. However, data from the Transportation Security Administration reveals that air travel volume has picked up in recent months. To ensure that people continue to opt for air travel, airlines must put the customer experience front and center.

Truly, the overall customer experience should be top of mind for all businesses. Consumers are carrying plenty of concerns. They’re worried about safety and cleanliness, and they’re eager to see reassuring signs that they can trust businesses like airlines to put their needs ahead of profits.

Unfortunately, a recent PwC survey suggests that people currently lack trust in the airline industry, which means airlines have their work cut out for them. But with this challenge comes a big opportunity: Airlines can start earning consumer confidence by presenting a safe, clean environment. When everything from furnishings to flooring is gleaming, travelers will have fewer reasons to worry about spreading germs or contracting contagious diseases.

So how can airlines wow consumers and bring them back into the fold? The following daily and long-term cleaning strategies can help:

1. Prevent dirt, soil, and moisture from being tracked inside.

Many airports receive hundreds or thousands of visitors each day, tracking in dirt, soil, and debris from outside on their shoes. To keep your floors looking clean, especially as traffic increases, make sure you’re paying special attention to entryway flooring. This is your best opportunity to keep grime from entering and spreading throughout your facility.

Consider implementing an entryway system with mats in each of your entryway zones: The first zone is outdoors in front of an entrance. Textured mats in this zone can scrape away and collect a high amount of soil, pebbles, and other larger contaminants. The second zone is the first place people go when entering the building, such as a foyer. Flooring in this area should scrape as well as absorb to remove moisture. The third zone is inside the main space just outside the entryway and should include flooring capable of absorbing any leftover moisture after all the dirt and debris have been removed.

When you focus on entryways, you can stop a sizable amount of grime from entering the concourse and other areas of your airport. This helps reduce the wear and tear on flooring, making sure it lasts longer and looks fresher.

2. Set up a rotating planned maintenance program.

Even with a top-tier, triple-zoned entryway system, soil can still be tracked inside. Getting rid of extra nonorganic and organic debris requires careful consideration of cleaning areas and frequencies. As such, airlines need to plot their cleaning times to coincide with low-volume periods.

To help determine where and when to clean, airline personnel may want to establish hot spots that demand more attention than other locations. For instance, the place passengers take off shoes for scanning can become grimy. And one study showed that infections, including athlete’s foot, could spread in flooring trafficked by barefoot travelers. Therefore, this is one place that will benefit from a consistent cleaning routine and rhythm that occurs like clockwork during expected “down” periods to reduce guest hiccups and delays.

3. Lean on protective and performance coatings for hard flooring.

Hard floors bear the brunt of a lot of wear and tear, especially when travelers drag luggage across them regularly. Protecting hard floors with a performance coating can create a stunning appearance that’s also easier to keep clean.

When consumers see aesthetically appealing hard floors in an airport, they’re more apt to feel that the space is clean, welcoming, and safe. And they’ll likely be safer than they even realize: A slightly textured protective coating can keep them from slipping, even if their shoes are still slightly wet from outside weather.

People aren’t going to stay away from air travel forever, and traffic is already picking back up. Airlines can encourage consumers to get back in the sky faster by making the customer experience second to none in terms of perceived and real cleanliness.

Stephen Lewis is the technical director at milliCare, where he manages all equipment, methods, and products for the floor and textile cleaning company. Stephen, a certified senior carpet inspector and an IICRC master textile cleaner, has proudly served milliCare for more than 30 years.