JUNE 17, 2020

At Lawyers Travel, we remain committed to providing excellent service to our valued clients throughout the COVID-19 global pandemic. Click the links below to view our travel information and traveler health and safety resources regarding COVID-19.

Two US airlines are adding another health safety measure by including pre-flight health questionnaires to their check-in process, reports USA Today. United Airlines and Alaska Airlines said this week that they will require travelers to fill out a pre-flight health checklist during check-in. United's policy took effect June 16th, while Alaska's will begin June 30th. Alaska's questionnaire says travelers must verify they haven't had any COVID-19 symptoms in the past 72 hours or come into contact with someone who is symptomatic. United's "Ready to Fly'' checklist asks travelers to confirm, among other things, that they have not had COVID-19-related symptoms in the past 14 days; been diagnosed with the virus in the past 21 days or had close contact with someone who has COVID-19 in the past 14 days. Travelers who don't meet the requirement can reschedule their flight.

The US State Department issued an announcement earlier this month indicating that US passport services would begin reopening gradually over the summer, planned to occur in three phases. The first phase has now officially begun and, as of today, 14 total passport centers and agencies across the country have restarted service on a scaled-down basis. During Phase One, a limited number of employees will return to work in order to resume processing operations, reviewing the limited number of applications that the department has already received, but thus far been unable to attend to. It’s still recommended that individuals hold off on submitting new or renewal passport applications, as delays in processing are expected to persist during Phase One. Individuals who require a passport in the next 72 hours will continue to be prioritized and they must make an appointment to submit their application and supporting documents. Individuals with appointments must wear face coverings in all common areas, including lobbies, and observe strict social distancing. Click the "READ MORE" button below for the list of the 14 passport centers that are currently open.

US airlines may prevent anyone not wearing a face covering from boarding and provide the coverings to travelers who have none, reports Reuters. Travelers who refuse to wear face coverings could have their flying privileges revoked under tougher enforcement policies. Carriers with the stricter policy include Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines. The airlines will clearly inform travelers about their individual policies on face coverings before flying, followed by an announcement with specific details onboard. Each carrier will decide the appropriate consequences for travelers who fail to comply, up to and including being put on that airline’s no-fly list. Airlines offer certain exemptions, including when people are eating or drinking.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has announced it will provide nearly 100 million cloth face coverings for travelers to use when traveling on planes, trains and buses, reports Transportation Today. According to the DOT, the federal government will send 86.8 million face masks to airports and send another 9.6 million face masks to 458 transit agencies and Amtrak for travelers use. “This Administration is committed to protecting our people and reopening the economy; distributing these facial coverings will help boost public confidence as we begin to resume our normal lives,” said US Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao. According to the DOT, however, the face coverings are meant to be supplemental and are not guaranteed to be available at all locations. Travelers are still responsible for providing their own face coverings, per guidelines issued by airlines, airports, transit agencies and passenger rail authorities.

Delta Air Lines has announced that it will add almost 1,000 flights system-wide in July, boosting service and nonstop connectivity to popular summer destinations and major business markets. Delta will continue to add more nonstop connectivity between top markets, with a focus on major hubs like Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis and Salt Lake City. Additionally, the carrier is adding a significant amount of capacity back into the Latin American region in response to reopened borders and the increased demand for leisure travel.

Hudson, one of the largest travel retailers in North America, has introduced personal protection equipment (PPE) vending machines for airports in North America, in addition to a custom-designed line of health and safety offerings, reports Airport Technology. The vending machines are ADA compliant and will be deployed at major airports in North America from the end of this month. Hudson aims to introduce the machines in 27 airports and Houston Space Center by the end of summer. They will be installed in the pre-security locations and will aid in providing a "convenient and safe" experience for travelers and staff. The products in the vending machine can be bought using a credit card. The touchscreen will also be sealed using an anti-microbial shield to increase the sanitation. Social distancing floor decals will also be present around the machine to preserve crowd control.

Consumer confidence in the safety of travel is growing, reports Travel Weekly. According to the latest Travel Safety Barometer, a monthly survey report published by travel and hospitality marketing agency MMGY Global, traveler confidence in the safety of domestic travel jumped 10 points from May to June, rising to 44 points on a scale of 100, while international travel also rose 10 points, to 32. After several weeks of stagnation, travelers’ perceptions of lodging safety also saw a sharp rise, increasing from 35 to 44 over the last month. MMGY said the increase correlates with most major hotel brands starting to promote stringent new hygiene protocols.

Chinese and US regulators have further eased flight restrictions between the two countries to allow four weekly flights each by US and Chinese carriers, reports Business Travel News. Last week, the US DOT temporarily suspended all flights by Chinese carriers and then later relaxed the rules to allow one weekly flight when China's regulators did the same. In a statement, the department said it is pushing for "full restoration" of passenger air travel between the two countries and would reciprocate as Chinese regulators allow for more flights by US carriers.

LaGuardia Gateway Partners (LGP) has announced that the arrivals and departures hall at Terminal B of LaGuardia Airport has opened as of June 13th, reports Airport Technology. This marks 80% completion of the Terminal B project and is the largest milestone in the $8 billion transformation of LaGuardia Airport. Travelers will be able to check in, pass through security, access shops, restaurants and services and pick up their baggage at the new arrivals and departures hall. Spread over 850,000ft², the arrivals and departures hall features four levels, ground transportation access and a centralized, TSA screening checkpoint with 16 lanes. Ticket counters and baggage claim for Air Canada, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines will operate from this hall.