US considers Covid-19 testing requirement for domestic air travel

So what are the chances of this happening? We know that the CDC is looking at all its options, but compared with international travel – the domestic picture is very different. The decision needs to be guided by data, by science, by medicine, and by the input of the people who are actually going to have to carry this out.  There are obviously a few arguments that the idea is impractical, in that  – there aren’t defined ports of entry. There’s also a risk the measure could divert scarce public health resources away from other priorities.

How has the international travel rule been met in the last few weeks, and are the same concerns as there was with that? There were many initial worries from both airlines and travel providers about the January 26th ruling, mainly to do with logistics and  timing. For example if travelers are stranded because they are unable to obtain an in-destination test in time for departure (if at all), it would set off a domino effect of issues like  missed connections, and canceled flights. Thi in turn could cause people to actually cancel any travel altogether. The same issues would be prevalent with a domestic travel ruling that requires testing and could further delay the recovery of the whole hospitality sector. In fact the argument could be made that if a testing mandate is prescribed by the Administration, funding should also be provided to comply.

How much realistically is domestic air travel contributing to COVID-19 numbers?Travel of any sort puts you in situations where you are outside of your immediate circle of people. However, we know that there is strong scientific evidence that the risk of Covid-19 transmission onboard an aircraft is very low. Imposing such a burden on the already financially impacted airline industry has the potential for severe consequences that will ripple across the entire economy. In that token, the ruling – if not carefully thought through, would not just cause logistical problems but financial ones too.  

And how would that change the landscape of travel yet again?The fear many airlines have stated that they have for passengers is that the ruling would keep people away from what they need to do in terms of starting to get back out for not just essential travel, but people need to start reclaiming their lives. The CDC wants to encourage people to NOT travel at all, but this is tricky, and they know that – so in their mind the ruling would be justified as yet another mitigation measure to try and decrease the spread. My concern is this causing a further divide between the CDC and the hospitality industry, when what we need now is unity to get anything done –  when it comes to reopening travel and giving people solid not mixed messages.

Travel Deals to grab right now – on WRAL

  • Where are the best deals right now? Well whether you’re considering an end-of-summer getaway or a close-to-home weekend trip in the next few months, there are a handful of hotel, flight, and resort deals to consider booking sooner rather than later. Major hotel groups like Marriott, Wyndham and Kimpton are all offering some fabulous and flexible packages for dates from now into 2022. For example, several Wyndham properties are participating in a three-day flash sale, running through January 28 of 25 percent off when you stay two or more nights before September 30, 2021.  Expedia is also offering many last-minute deals – some of which extend into May.
  •  What destinations are worth considering?  Much of that is dependent on if you are looking to drive, or fly. Of course anywhere that you can be outside this time of year is a bonus – especially with COVID. If you are looking to leave the state, from the Carolinas a reasonable option is somewhere like FL which is accessible by both plane and by road trip, so you have flexibility. The Seagate Hotel in Delray Beach has full COVID safety policies in place and are currently offering a Soak up the Sun package that includes one-night stay in their deluxe accommodations along with beachclub access and a signature beach towel and luxury beach bag.  Book online using PROMO CODE: PKGBCH, or call 1-877-577-3242.
  • When is the right time to book and what’s changed with booking?  (The need to schedule a COVID test before coming back?) As of January 26th. if you travel internationally you, ino order to return–you’re now required to have a negative COVID test within the last three days. If you are booking way in advance to grab a current deal, keep in mind – these restrictions might change by the time you travel. However, if you are planning to travel internationally in the next few months, make sure you book tests both ends of your trip to avoid being stuck. In terms of what’s changed with booking trips, as mentioned, most travel providers and airlines are offering flexibility on changing or canceling your trip, many offering credits if you cannot travel – however be sure to check with each one individually as they all have their own policies. 
  • What are the policies for refund/insurance you need to be on the lookout for? There are some main things to be aware of. Many hotels and airlines have updated their change and cancellation policies to be more flexible – and  even if your booking was originally nonrefundable, you may be able to get a full refund. Also using miles and points can also be a good hedge if you’re not sure you’ll be able to take your trip. In terms of travel insurance, most travel insurance policies do not cover fear of traveling due to COVID-19, but they may cover you if you contract it. Again you will want to check with your insurance provider before booking your trip.