Ready for takeoff? Why one of our experts is feeling confident about air travel.

Domestic travel is steadily picking back up. LeAnn Ridgeway, a Collins Aerospace passenger experience expert and avid traveler, outlines how the industry is working together to redefine the future of travel.

After more than a year of postponed or canceled travel plans, even self-proclaimed homebodies can agree: Wanderlust – that strong and persistent desire to travel – is real.

So it’s no surprise that travel, specifically domestic travel, is on the rise in some countries. In the U.S., the Transportation Security Administration reports a steady increase in daily passenger counts, with more than 2.1 million travelers moving through airports on Sunday, June 20. That’s an all-time high so far in 2021. And around the world, efforts are underway to prepare for the comeback of international travel as well.

We’re ready to travel -- if not now, then soon.

It comes down to passenger confidence. The more vaccination rates go up, the more health and safety measures there are in place, the easier it is to imagine planning and taking a trip.

LeAnn Ridgeway, vice president of Information Management Services (IMS) for Collins Aerospace, a Raytheon Technologies business, is hard at work bringing those measures to market. She leads a task force responsible for a broad array of solutions to make the passenger experience more contactless – and more convenient – than ever. Here, she discusses her team’s work, and why she’s feeling good about a return to travel.

LeAnn Ridgeway with mask on

What measures are in place right now that make you feel confident about air travel?

Our Collins Aerospace Redefining Air Travel team is working across the industry — with customers, government agencies, airlines, airports, medical specialists, scientists and academia – to test current solutions and to prove the efficacy of measures in place today. It’s the layered approach to health and safety that makes me feel confident.

For example, on board the aircraft, first and foremost, everyone is mandated to wear a mask or face covering. Additionally, modern aircraft have High Efficiency Particulate Absorbing (HEPA) filters on board that filter the air and cleanse the air in the cabin to a level similar to what we see in surgical operating rooms.

In fact, airflow in the cabin flows downward and again helps with the purification process. Airlines are also sanitizing and disinfecting aircraft with new long-acting methods, and there’s more frequent cleaning between flights. The multi-layering of these approaches together gives me great confidence in air travel.

What are the products and technology coming to the market that should help passengers feel more confident flying?
These are just some of the solutions Collins and our parent company, Raytheon Technologies, are working on to provide a more touchless or contactless journey for passengers:

At the airport:

On the aircraft:

  • New sanitizing solutions with UV light.
  • New antiviral and antimicrobial surfaces and coatings.
  • Touchless hand-sanitizing stations.
  • Touchless lavatories.

What do you wish the traveling public could see that you see?

That the science is proving that air travel does not have a higher risk profile than most everyday life during the pandemic. Also, that the industry is truly leaning into this multi-layered approach, allowing us to continue to implement new safety measures all the time.

What’s your favorite part about flying?

Flying can shrink distance and time and unlock the world for people. On a more personal level, I love change, so I love the ability flying has to help me experience something new.

Any trips planned?

Yes, Hawaii with my four grown kids and their spouses! It was supposed to happen in early 2020, but it got rescheduled three times due to COVID. We’re vaccinated and will take pre-departure COVID tests prior to traveling, but everyone is excited as it will be our first-ever total family vacation!