With busy airports, winter weather delays, and sky-high airfares, flying during the holidays can be a major headache. But in a year as unprecedented as 2020, is holiday travel even possible? In these uncertain times, there are so many questions that travelers are looking for the answers to. We’re taking a look at coronavirus and what to know before booking holiday flights this year.
Before you travel, consider the following:
- Is COVID-19 spreading at your destination?
The more cases at your destination, the more likely you are to get infected during travel and spread the virus to others when you return.
- Check travel restrictions
State, local, and territorial governments may have travel restrictions in place, including testing requirements, stay-at-home orders, and quarantine requirements upon arrival.
- Don’t travel if you are sick or if you have been around someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days.
Take steps to protect yourself and others
Social distancing could prove to be difficult on crowded holiday flights, and sitting within 6 feet of others, sometimes for hours, may increase your risk of getting COVID-19.
Some airlines are continuing to block middle seats in coach, but even then, you aren’t getting a full six feet of distance from your seatmates making social distancing impossible.
Airports, bus stations, train stations, and rest stops are all places travelers can be exposed to the virus in the air and on surfaces.
When it comes to personal protective equipment, face masks are a given, but if you want even more protection, you may want to add a face shield for extra protection.
RELATED READ: What Traveling Looks Like in the Age of COVID
Is flying first-class safer amid a pandemic?
Many say the benefits, a wider seat, priority boarding, and airport lounges allow for more social distancing and are worth the extra money or miles.
Should you upgrade when booking holiday flights? Conde Nast Travel asked medical experts for their opinions.
“It really doesn’t make much difference where you sit on the plane” says Dr. Mark Gendreau, chief medical officer at Beverly and Addison Gilbert Hospitals, near Boston. “What’s most important are the precautions we are carrying out: face masks, proper hand hygiene, sanitizing surfaces,” he says.
Airline cancellation policies
If you do opt to travel over the holidays, brace for potential flight cancellations, drastic time changes, and for nonstop flights to be re-routed.
The good news is, airlines around the world have been busy updating their cancellation policies, and in its latest move to offer more flexibility to fliers during COVID-19, most major U.S. airlines have put an end to ticket change fees for good.
Keep in mind that if you are booking holiday flights, hotel, or other travel plans through a third party or your credit card, and need to cancel, it may be trickier to get your money back.
Passport renewal during COVID
Even if you’re not considering travel any time soon, you may want to take a look at the expiration date. There is currently a major backlog at the U.S. Department of State, meaning travelers who need to renew will have to allow more time than usual, especially since international destinations require your passport to be valid for six months from your return date to the United States.
When we’ll travel again
This Spring as borders around the world closed, flights were canceled, and the World Health Organization recognised the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic we made the difficult decision to postpone our 2020 retreats.
When we announced this, we had high hopes that we could pick up where we left off in 2021.
After much deliberation and back and forth, we have decided to put retreats on hold until further notice.
This means we will no longer be hosting retreats in 2021 and for the foreseeable future.
Under these unprecedented circumstances and the constantly changing global health situation, and global travel restrictions, it is our only option in order to keep our community safe.
While November and December holiday travel usually means a record-breaking number of fliers, airports are sure to look different this holiday season.
If you are planning to travel for an upcoming holiday, see CDC’s information about Holiday Celebrations.
Are you avoiding air travel over the holidays? We always want to hear from you, so please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions, or just to say hello.