APRIL 29, 2020

Airlines are beginning to roll out new policies aimed at protecting travelers and crew from coronavirus transmission and increasing traveler confidence in air travel safety, reports CNN. Carriers such as American, Delta, JetBlue and United are all requiring employees and flight attendants to wear masks or face coverings, while maintaining the six-foot social distancing rule whenever possible. American and United will also begin handing out masks to travelers in May, while Delta is encouraging all travelers to wear masks at all times. Additionally, JetBlue has become the first US carrier to require that all passengers wear masks, effective May 4th.

Amtrak has once again announced updates to its essential service plans to meet government travel restrictions. Due to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendation that residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut refrain from non-essential travel for 14 days, Amtrak has been forced to change and temporarily suspend routes. Amtrak service continues to operate on the Northeast Corridor, but has temporarily suspended the following services due to reduced demand:

  • Acela (Boston – Washington, DC)
  • Downeaster (Boston – Brunswick, Maine)
  • Keystone Service (Harrisburg – New York)
  • Carolinian (Charlotte – New York)
  • Pennsylvanian (New York – Pittsburgh)
  • Pere Marquette (Chicago – Grand Rapids)

The rail company also announced that several routes would operate on a reduced schedule. Click the “Read More” link below for full details of Amtrak's service updates.

CLEAR, the Trusted Traveler program that provides accelerated screening in the security lanes that check IDs and boarding passes, is offering a three-month extension for current members, as well as for any family members who are on the primary member’s family plan. However, the membership extension isn’t automatic; members will have log in to submit the request via chat or email, or contact CLEAR via phone and request the extension. According to CLEAR, the most efficient way of requesting an extension is through my.clearme.com. Click the "Read More" link below to visit CLEAR's contact page.

The US government is considering health screenings for incoming international travelers by having them undergo temperature and virus checks in order to help stop the spread of COVID-19, reports Skift. “We’re looking at doing it on the international flights coming out of areas that are heavily infected,” Trump said Tuesday at the White House. “We will be looking into that in the very near future.” The president also said it has not been determined yet whether the federal government or the airlines would conduct the testing. “Maybe it’s a combination of both,” he said.

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will extend the temporary closure of Trusted Traveler Program enrollment centers until at least June 1, 2020. According to the CBP, the precautionary measure will help minimize the exposure of CBP personnel and the public to COVID-19. The temporary closure applies to all public access Global Entry enrollment centers, NEXUS enrollment centers, SENTRI enrollment centers and FAST enrollment locations. Global Entry mobile enrollment events are also paused until further notice. Conditionally-approved applicants who seek an enrollment center interview will need to reschedule after June 1st.

Effective immediately, Delta Air Lines is waiving 2020 minimums for its SkyBonus accounts, the carrier announced. Companies that were active in the program last year will not need to meet the $5,000 spending and five unique employee traveler minimums, and they will remain active in the program through the end of 2021. Companies in their first year do not have minimum requirements, and those companies will keep that waiver through the end of 2021 as well. In addition, Delta is extending SkyBonus Elite status levels through the end of 2021 and is extending the expiration dates for SkyBonus points and travel award certificates.

United Airlines has announced that it will begin operating all of its transcontinental flights between the Northeast and West Coast with more fuel-efficient Boeing 737 aircraft starting in May amid a decline in demand due to COVID-19, reports Travel Pulse. "Due to the significant drop in premium demand, beginning May 4, we will operate more efficient Boeing 737 aircraft on transcontinental routes between New York/Newark and Los Angeles and San Francisco and between San Francisco and Boston which were previously operated with Boeing 757 aircraft. We will continue monitoring and reviewing demand and adjust our schedule as necessary," the airline confirmed. The change means that travelers won't have access to United's lie-flat business-class seats; instead, first-class flyers will have the option for the 737's recliner seats.