Traveling by road or air? Which is safer? Morning Express with Robin Meade

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Driving – is it safer?It has been predicted that a lot of Americans will choose to drive in the coming months for travel. Driving will give you a greater sense of control over your surroundings, and you can choose who you travel with.


If you’re able to keep a safe, six-foot social distance from others in rest areas, wear a mask, and practice good hygiene, there is little risk since the coronavirus is thought to be mainly transmitted directly from person-to-person. In fact, medical experts are now more comfortable saying that the chances of catching the coronavirus from a surface remain quite low among those practicing common precautions.

Try to avoid stopping at a very crowded rest stop, but don’t fear the public restroom. If it’s not too crowded, it shouldn’t impose much risk but I still wouldn’t touch a toilet and then touch my face. Unless these surfaces are recently sneezed on, you should be ok.

At some point, you will either need to fill your gas tank or charge your electric vehicle’s battery, and most gas pump handles or EV public chargers are pretty gross. Health officials recommend using disposable gloves while pumping your gas, rather than trying to wipe it down with a disinfecting wet wipe.

What about flying?

Traveling by airplane is arguably a higher risk than traveling by car with your family. If you do fly, keep in mind that international travel is much riskier this summer than domestic travel (even though some countries like Greece are opening up to American travelers).

At the same time, you can take comfort that air circulation systems on planes are quite good. They have high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters and high rates of air exchange, but that still doesn’t protect you from what is happening immediately around you. Air carriers are also taking measures to help ensure the safety of passengers and flight crews, and most if not all airlines have already begun implementing more intense safety and cleaning procedures.

But keep in mind that one of the biggest risks of flying is that it’s hard to predict how full a flight might be or how much you’ll be able to socially distance from other passengers and employees, even as airlines make efforts to minimize close contact. Eating and drinking on a plane presents its own challenges – the more you’re around unmasked people with uncovered noses and mouths, the riskier it gets. So maybe you keep your mask on and limit taking it off (obviously you don’t want to get dehydrated)

If you do choose to fly, be mindful of your entire environment. Keep the recommended six feet of social distance whenever possible, wash or sanitize your hands frequently and sanitize surfaces that others may have touched. Using electronic check-in apps and packing your own food will help reduce face-to-face contact. 

Ultimately while it may seem like doing a road trip will inherently keep you safe of exposing yourself to the virus, it really all comes down to what you do while you’re traveling and how consciously you do it.

Travel insurance in the time of COVID?

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1. What are the benefits of travel insurance?
It can seriously help cover losses for non-refundable, pre-paid expenses and add peace of mind to trip planning. And that doesn’t just apply to flights, it applies to road trips too. While travel has always been unpredictable to a degree, the Covid-19 outbreak and imposed travel bans have shown a lot of Americans how much unexpected events can affect their travel plans. This seems to make a significant difference to how they consider to insure future holidays. It has been predicted that a lot of Americans will choose to drive in the coming months for travel, so it’s worth noting that travel insurance may reimburse you for covered losses faced on the road too such as trip cancellations or interruptions due to hurricanes and other weather-related events, to injuries or illness.

2. How much does it typically cost and what does it typically cover?
Depending on the coverage you choose it can cover rental cars, vacation rentals, break downs, trip cancellations and interruptions, and a BIG one right now – medical coverage and 24/7 assistance. Keep in mind there are a number of factors that can adjust the price of your insurance such as the age of traveler, trip expenses (a policy’s price is based on your nonrefundable of prepaid travel expenses so calculate all of the costs you’ll incur before your departure when searching for a policy, plan selection,) the number of travelers and the destination. Insurance companies also consider the accessibility to medical facilities and the crime rates of your destination when determining a price. For example, if you were a single, healthy 30 year old male traveling to Colorado this summer for 2 weeks you could be looking at a rate of anywhere between $100 and $200 – using an insurance calculator from Allianz.com.

3. Can you get your money back at all even if you don’t have insurance and your vacation gets canceled?
If it is going to depend on the circumstances of your trip being canceled and the travel providers you have booked with – which airlines, hotels etc as they all have their own policies which you should read up on before you book. The benefit of taking out cancellation insurance is that – on your end – if you’re unable to take a trip due to an unforeseeable event, a trip cancellation policy will reimburse you for your prepaid, forfeited and non-refundable costs of your trip. 


4. And any travel tips to keep safe on the road?

Do it with those you live with – even if you’re thinking about a very long drive with visits to rest stops along the way and overnight hotel stays, you’re pretty safe if you plan to do it with those you live with.

Keep your distance – If you’re able to keep a safe, six-foot social distance from others in rest areas, wear a mask, and practice good hygiene, there is little risk since the coronavirus is thought to be mainly transmitted directly from person-to-person. In fact, medical experts are now more comfortable saying that the chances of catching the coronavirus from a surface remain quite low among those practicing common precautions.

Practice rest stop etiquette – Try to avoid stopping at a very crowded rest stop, but don’t fear the public restroom. If it’s not too crowded, it shouldn’t impose much risk but I still wouldn’t touch a toilet and then touch my face. Unless these surfaces are recently sneezed on, you should be ok.


And what about hotels? Staying overnight in a hotel is also a low-risk activity for members of the same household as again it seems like the risk of getting infected from touching surfaces is pretty low. The majority of hotels have been going overboard lately with cleaning and disinfecting as well –  making the chance of touching a contaminated surface really slim.

What should I bring?—driver’s license, registration, insurance—as well as health-insurance cards – as an extra precaution. It’s also wise to bring face coverings, gloves, disinfecting wipes, and cleaning supplies.

FBN – How to get a refund during coronavirus

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Let’s talk about getting refunds from flights… We know that as of last week – The U.S. Department of Transportation has mandated airlines to refund passengers in the event flights are canceled OR significant schedule changes or made OR government restrictions prevent flying due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

Can you go back to the airline if you were given a credit and get a refund instead of a credit? This would be at the discretion of the airline – and it is to note – that despite the the statement from DOT – it is LIKELY that airlines will continue to try and offer credits instead of a refund – particularly as the DOT has said they wont’  be strictly enforcing this of yet – and they are giving airlines ‘time’ come into compliance with the mandate. Thus some airlines might act sooner on this than others.

How long can airlines continue to refund customers? Not for too long, however, while we can assume April and the early part of May people are going to be pulling trips, there is a chance that when it comes to summer and fall travel we could see an up-tick as restrictions are lifted. And yet, to counter this, I also predict that less exposed travel ideas, like a road trip will rise in popularity. 

How are the airlines doing when it comes to responding to customers?  Is there a work flow you and other industry insiders are noticing is working better than others? A lot of people are complaining of not being able to reach airlines. Now the good news is that many airlines like Delta, for instance, are aware of how jammed the call centers are and are automatically issuing refunds or credits on missed or cancelled flights now. My advice to travelers is that if you are really struggling to reach an airline, keep in mind that The Federal Fair Credit Billing Act gives you the right to dispute a charge for services not provided.

Reimbursement vs travel credit – even with this new mandate, should we be taking the refund versus the credit? Remember – as I have said – that airlines want to keep your business. When a flight is cancelled, airline systems try and re-book you on the closest available flight or offer you a credit voucher –  but this keeps them holding your business and your cash. Now what do you do if your flight is NOT canceled? Hold onto your reservation SO THAT the airline calls the cancellation BEFORE you do – this will increase your chances of being entitled to a refund.