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FAST FACTS ABOUT THE STATE OF TRAVEL

FAST FACTS ABOUT THE STATE OF TRAVEL

FAST FACTS ABOUT THE STATE OF TRAVEL

After weeks or possibly months of complying with the mandatory stay-at-home order, many people are hoping to be able to travel this summer. Before you abandon your vacation plans, here is a quick update on the state of travel now.

First, let’s get the bad news out of the way. Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Department of State have advised the public to avoid cruises. Covid-19 spreads easily and rapidly among people in close quarters, and cruise ships have already been proven to be dangerous environments. As of the beginning of this month, both the CDC and State Department have issued warnings against cruise travel until further notice.

However, air travel appears to be a different story. While some experts counsel that air travel is not high risk because the air in planes is constantly filtered, most people appear to be skeptical. Even with airports enforcing health safety guidelines, closing sky lounges and food outlets, and enabling travelers to maintain social distancing, travelers know the risk of contact with other people right now. Although airlines are not requiring passengers to wear face masks, the TSA is encouraging travelers to carry on hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and masks. Still, air travel is currently at a 10-year low, according to a report from the TSA.

The important step you can take is to keep up with information and travel recommendations. The TSA stopped posting on its own blog on February 27, without explanation. But the CDC posts regularly on its site with information and tips. Its “Coronavirus and Travel Within the United States” page is an excellent resource for those with concerns about travelling. The CDC also maintains a list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) on its COVID-19 Travel Page.

Meanwhile, while most of us shelter in place, this is the time to research possible future trips, and to stay informed about deals being offered by travel companies. Several airlines have waived cancellation fees and made itinerary and date changes without penalties. On April 7 United Airlines became the first major U.S. airline to extend its coronavirus travel waivers to cover flights through the end of the year. If you purchased a ticket on American Airlines before April 7, you can change your plans without a fee for travel through September 30. Also, airlines must issue prompt refunds to passengers whose flights or cancelled or changed significantly by the airline during the coronavirus crisis, by order of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

As for short term rental companies and tour companies, check individual websites for refund policies and future booking deals.

Right now, the key word for travel is “future.” That is because according to Pew Research (as of April 7), 93 percent of the world’s population now lives in countries or territories that are the subject of travel restrictions.

Stay informed and stay home. The US State Department’s global travel advisory is at its highest level — Level 4: Do Not Travel. Americans are advised to avoid all international travel.

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