NOVEMBER 25, 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.

American Airlines has announced that it is eliminating change fees for First Class, Business Class, Premium Economy and Main Cabin (except Basic Economy) tickets for all long-haul international flights when travel originates in North or South America. Effective immediately, this new policy matches American’s previous announcement to get rid of change fees on most domestic and short-haul international flights. “We are committed to making travel easier for our customers who fly on American,” said American’s Chief Revenue Officer Vasu Raja. “By eliminating change fees, we’re giving customers more flexibility no matter when or where they plan to travel.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released new guidance for Americans traveling internationally, recommending they get tested for COVID-19 at three different times, reports Travel + Leisure. The agency recommended travelers get tested with a viral test one to three days before their international flight, and then again one to three days before returning back to the US. Travelers should delay their trip if they have not yet received the results of the test. The CDC then recommended travelers get tested again three to five days after returning home in addition to self-isolating for a full week, even if they test negative. If people choose not to get tested after returning home, the agency said they should isolate for 14 days.

Several nations in Asia and the Pacific are saying travelers will need a COVID-19 vaccination before they can fly, reports ABC News. In Australia, top officials from Qantas, the country's largest airline, said that once a virus vaccine becomes widely available, the carrier will likely require travelers use it before they can travel abroad or land in Australia. Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce said he's been talking to his counterparts at other airlines around the world about the possibility of a “vaccination passport” for international travelers. Additionally, South Korea's largest airline has a similar message. Jill Chung, a spokesperson for Korean Air, said there’s a real possibility that airlines will require that travelers be vaccinated. She said that's because governments are likely to require vaccinations as a condition for lifting quarantine requirements for new arrivals. Air New Zealand has also echoed Chung's position.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced that it’s in the final development stages for a mobile app called "IATA Travel Pass," which will enable travelers to easily display their COVID-19 credentials at airports, reports Travel Pulse. The digital Travel Pass will display a record of an individual’s test results, proof of inoculation (as vaccines become available) and link to an electronic copy of the user’s passport for identity verification. For users, it will also serve as a resource that lists various rules for national entry and nearby lab locations that meet their destination’s testing and/or vaccination requirements. Travel Pass will be free for travelers and governments to use, while airlines will pay a small fee for each traveler who uses the service in the course of their travel journey. Alan Murray Hayden, IATA’s head of passenger and security products, said during a briefing that IATA has already had positive talks with one government about using the software and expects that other nations will follow suit.

Delta Air Lines has announced that it has partnered with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to launch the first curb-to-gate facial recognition option using a digital ID for US domestic travelers. Voluntary testing will begin next month at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW), where travelers will be able to use a digital ID – verified by facial recognition technology – to move through a dedicated TSA PreCheck domestic checkpoint. This will expand to bag drop and boarding in early 2021, making Detroit the first airport to have a facial recognition option from curb to gate for TSA PreCheck customers traveling domestically. To be eligible to participate in the Detroit test, travelers need a passport number and a TSA PreCheck membership. Facial recognition technology uses this information as a digital ID to confirm a traveler’s identity at airport touchpoints. If a traveler does not want to use facial recognition, they can simply not opt in at check-in and proceed through the airport as they always have. Delta does not save or store any biometric data, nor does it plan to.

United Airlines has announced that it is expanding its COVID-19 testing efforts to include flights out of Houston to select destinations in Latin America and the Caribbean. Starting for flights departing on December 7th, travelers originating from George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) will have the option to take a self-collected, mail-in test that meets local entry requirements for the destinations in Aruba; Belize City, Belize; Guatemala City, Guatemala; Lima, Peru; Nassau, Bahamas; Panama City, Panama; Roatán, Honduras; San Pedro Sula, Honduras; San Salvador, El Salvador and Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Two weeks ahead of their flight, United will contact travelers with instructions on how to order a self-collected, mail-in test costing $119. Travelers can take their test within 72 hours of departure, and Advanced Diagnostic Laboratory's San Antonio lab will process them and provide results within 48 hours of the test being mailed, according to United.

The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) plans to establish COVID-19 testing for both travelers and employees at Midway (MDW) and O'Hare (ORD) international airports, reports NBC Chicago. Last week, the CDA stated it's seeking proposals from vendors who hope to provide testing services at both airports. The "successful bidder," the department said, will be able to provide both PCR (molecular testing, most accurate, results in 2-3 days) and rapid tests (antigen testing, results in as little as 15-30 minutes) and have the capacity to begin testing before the start of the December holiday travel season. A drive-up COVID testing site has already been established at Midway and will be available to the community as well as airport travelers and employees. In addition, the airport seeks to construct a second walk-up site inside the facility. O'Hare International Airport will feature a walk-up, pre-security site in the terminal area as well as a drive-up testing site in a remote parking lot, according to the CDA.

Dubai National Air Transport Association (dnata) has deployed Honeywell’s temperature monitoring solution ThermoRebellion at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York, reports Airport Technology. Honeywell ThermoRebellion systems have been installed at every entrance to JFK’s International Terminal One, supporting travelers flying on major airlines such as Air France, Japan Airlines, Korean Air and Lufthansa. “The Honeywell ThermoRebellion solution is accurate, stable and allows individual travelers to move through the screening process rapidly. Installing the solution at JFK International Airport underscores our commitment to delivering the highest levels of safety and efficiency for our airport and airline partners, as well as their passengers,” said Dnata USA CEO David Barker. The Honeywell ThermoRebellion system has been designed and tested as per recommendations set by the US FDA this April.