An editorial from the Chicago Tribune:

Not many people would choose to ride out the coronavirus pandemic in a crowded tin box. That’s why passenger demand for air travel has fallen as much as 90%. Of course, there’s also little reason to book a flight right now.

Slowly, the window for flying will reopen, presuming rates of COVID-19 infection continue to decline. Some people will have important personal or professional reasons to board aircraft in the next few months, even without much of a summer vacation season.

They’ll fly, if they feel safe.

Do airlines understand this imperative? They do if they agree with Paul Griffiths, chief executive of Dubai Airports, whose employees are dressed head-to-toe in personal protective equipment. “Going through an airport, the whole travel experience, will be as enjoyable as open-heart surgery,” he told Bloomberg News.

It’s a pithy quote, with an important message: Airline travel will return more quickly if airlines, airports and travelers commit to obsessive hygiene.

Carriers and airports need to rethink every step in the flying process. Thermal scans of body temperatures in terminals, frequent disinfecting scrub-downs of cabins and new boarding procedures to reduce passenger crowding in the aisles all appear part of the mix, according to The Wall Street Journal. That seems prudent to us.

Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that airline crew members and front-line employee should wear face masks or coverings, so we expect that to be the norm. What also needs to be enforced is a mandatory passenger dress code: We wouldn’t want to see anyone on our flight without a mask. Airlines are requiring face coverings, but they sound hesitant about enforcement because they don’t want confrontations. Here’s an American Airlines instruction to employees, per The Washington Post: “Flight attendants are instructed not to escalate the issue if the passenger refuses to wear a face covering and to consider options, such as reseating if other passengers are involved, to defuse the situation.”

The more the airlines can do to give the public confidence, the more likely travelers will consider flying again.