DECEMBER 16, 2020

At Ovation, we remain committed to providing excellent service to our valued clients throughout the COVID-19 global pandemic. Click the link below to view our travel resources guide which includes traveler health & safety information, interactive risk maps, client communications, travel management best practices, webinar recordings and more regarding COVID-19.

Several US airlines, including American, Delta and United, have begun issuing travel waivers ahead of Winter Storm Gail, which is forecast to impact a wide swath of the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions on Wednesday and Thursday. The destinations covered, travel dates and other fine print vary by airline and are likely to change with the storm's projected path and severity. For now, travelers covered are those due to fly Wednesday or Thursday. Please note, travelers with nonrefundable tickets are not eligible for a refund unless the airline cancels the flight. However, travelers are eligible to cancel their flight and receive credit toward a future flight and won't have to pay ticket change fees, even on basic economy tickets. Click "Read More" below to view a summary of each major airlines’ current waiver conditions assembled by USA Today.

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has joined with major international industry bodies including Airports Council International (ACI), International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the World Economic Forum (WEF) to call for the restoration of international travel, reports Travel Pulse. It is the belief of these groups that travel safety can be upheld through successful testing and that vaccines should not be a requirement to travel since the full rollout of vaccination programs could further delay a revival of the industry. Together, the ACI, ICC, WEF and WTTC identified four key measures that they believe should be implemented to restore international travel safely. These measures include globally recognized testing regimes before departure, common health and hygiene protocols that are aligned with globally established standards, a risk management regime and internationally consistent and recognized travel passes.

Over the next few weeks, United Airlines will begin asking all passengers during check-in to voluntarily provide contact information to assist any contract-tracing efforts, reports Business Travel News. The carrier announced that the program will allow the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) "immediate access" to passengers' volunteered email addresses, phone numbers and the addresses of where they are staying at their destination. International travelers arriving in the US this week will be the first to be prompted by United to volunteer their contact information during the check-in process, whether that is through United's website or app or at the airport. The program will expand to all flights and travelers during the next few weeks. United is the first major US carrier to announce voluntary contact-tracing data for all flights. Delta Air Lines this week began asking inbound international arrivals to the US to provide such data.

Additionally, United Airlines has extended its permanent end to change fees to all international travel originating in the US, the carrier said in a statement. Basic Economy tickets still will be subject to change fees, but United is currently waiving those as well and has extended that waiver for tickets bought through March 31st. Delta and American Airlines each have announced similar policies.

American Airlines has announced that it is providing travelers additional flexibility by extending its offer to waive change fees for any new travel purchased by January 31, 2021. As a reminder, effective January 1, 2021, American has eliminated all change fees for First Class, Business Class, Premium Economy and Main Cabin tickets for most domestic and international flying.

This new offer applies to tickets that meet the following criteria and includes Basic Economy tickets:
  • Any First, Business, Premium Economy, Main Cabin or Basic Economy ticket purchased on or before January 31, 2021, for future travel will not incur change fees prior to travel. Travelers must pay any fare difference, if applicable, at time of ticketing of the new fare.
  • Travelers are allowed to change their origin and destination cities as part of this offer.

Delta Air Lines is in talks with governments to add more quarantine-free trips to international destinations, reports Skift. The aviation industry has largely backed the creation of such agreements, travel corridors and “bubbles,” where travelers testing negative for COVID-19 can fly without lengthy quarantines to prevent spread of the coronavirus. Delta already has two such flights, Atlanta to Amsterdam, that require travelers to take multiple COVID tests in order to fly. Even as COVID-19 vaccinations get started this week in the US and Canada, airlines see testing as the fastest way to resume international travel without quarantines since inoculation campaigns will take time.

MMGY Global, an advertising agency specializing in the travel, tourism, and hospitality industries, has released the latest wave of research showing how Americans feel about travel amid news of effective vaccines and COVID-19 cases rising sharply in the US, reports Travel Pulse. According to the research, fifty percent of respondents would get the vaccine as soon as it’s available to them. Forty percent said that would wait at least a few months to see if it is effective, and nine percent would not get the vaccine. Additionally, business travel is also on the rise. MMGY’s research found that the percentage of respondents likely to take a domestic business trip during the next six months increased to 38 percent from 34 percent. Business travelers were also more optimistic about attendance at off-site meetings and conventions. One in five business travelers is likely to attend a conference or convention, up from 17 percent in October. One in four is likely to attend an off-site business meeting, up from 22 percent in October.