MAY 20, 2020

At Ovation, 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.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has issued an additional pair of guidelines regarding ticket refunds and airline service obligations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, reports Transportation Today.

  • The DOT has produced a second Enforcement Notice relating to airline ticket refunds in the wake of more than 25,000 air travel service complaints and inquiries filed in March and April. “The Department is asking all airlines to revisit their customer service policies and ensure they are as flexible and considerate as possible to the needs of passengers who face financial hardship during this time.” Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao said.

  • Additionally, the DOT said the Notice of Adjustments to Service Obligations addresses incremental adjustments to service obligations under Order 2020-4-2, issued on April 7th. The Notice initiates a process in which the DOT enables covered carriers to reduce the number of points they must serve as a proportion of their total service obligation. This ensures every community served by a covered air carrier before March 1, 2020, continues to receive service from at least one covered carrier.

The United States has extended the ban on non-essential cross-border travel to Canada and Mexico to help the fight against COVID-19, reports Reuters. The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said restrictions, first imposed in mid-March and previously set to expire on May 20th, would now be extended until June 22nd for both Canada and Mexico.

Delta Air Lines is adding a new layer of safety at airports with the installation of custom plexiglass safety barriers at check-in lobbies, departure gates and Delta Sky Club counters. The carrier has announced that full outfitting of the safety barriers at all check-in lobbies and departure gates is expected at Delta's US hub airport in Atlanta by June 1st and at all US locations in the weeks following. Delta Sky Club installations are expected to be complete this summer, while Delta also intends to install safety barriers at airports outside the US in the weeks ahead.

Airports in the US and overseas are testing thermal cameras, health screening kiosks and other technologies in hopes of slowing the spread of COVID-19 while reducing the risk of exposing airport screeners to the virus, reports The Los Angeles Times. A thermal camera system is being tested at Dulles International Airport in Washington, DC and Tampa International Airport. Stationary thermal cameras are most likely to be used at airports because the technology has been used in the past and the cameras can gauge the temperature of a traveler from 7 to 15 feet away. Additionally, Parsons Corporation, a Virginia based engineering company, recently announced the launch of a touch-free health screening kiosk that can take a traveler's temperature as well as respiration and pulse rates. By connecting to a smartphone app, the kiosk can also ask for other health information. Based on the health information and the other data, the kiosk can give travelers a green light to continue on to the airport security screening line or be denied boarding. Parsons is talking to several US airports about testing the kiosk said Carey Smith, president and chief executive of Parsons.

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has announced the expansion of its hotel cleanliness program, reports Business Travel News. According to IHG, the expanded program will launch on June 1st and include additional COVID-19 cleaning protocols and best practices as advised by the World Health Organization (WHO), the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and local public health authorities in markets around the world. Similar to other recently announced hotel company cleaning protocols, IHG will practice social distancing, provide employee training and certification, provide hand sanitizer and wipes, increase contactless interactions, provide additional deep cleaning of high-touch surfaces and provide new standards for food and beverage service. In addition, IHG will make available guest amenity cleaning kits. The company also has created a global cleanliness board, composed of IHG experts in operations, health, safety and guest experiences, along with external specialists including James Merlino, chief clinical transformation officer at the Cleveland Clinic. Further, on property, hotel teams will appoint "clean champions" to help hotels consistently deliver the elevated cleanliness standards. IHG is one of many hotel brands, including Accor, Four Seasons, Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott and Omni, who have implemented new cleanliness protocols.

Delta Air Lines, Southwest and United Airlines have all announced at least some degree of improvement in terms of new traveler bookings over cancellations for the first time in many weeks, as the airlines plan to start adding flights back into their schedules for summer, reports Travel Pulse. Additionally, the number of travelers passing through TSA checkpoints at all US airports collectively on Monday, May 18th was up from the number of travelers seen passing through those same checkpoints a month ago.

Trials are taking place in the UK to see whether specially trained airport sniffer dogs could detect COVID-19 in travelers, even before symptoms appear, reports CNN. Sniffer dogs are already a common sight in airports, being used to detect drugs, weapons or other contraband. But specially trained dogs have also been trained to detect infections and diseases, including cancer, malaria and Parkinson's disease. Researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, in collaboration with charity Medical Detection Dogs and the UK's Durham University, say respiratory diseases change body odor, and they reckon trained dogs will be able to pick up this shift on COVID-19 carriers. Professor James Logan, lead researcher on the project, and head of the department of disease control at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine is confident the trial will yield results. "It builds up on years of research that we've already done as a team to demonstrate that people who have a malaria infection have a distinctive body odor and we've shown that dogs can be trained to detect that with very high accuracy," says Logan.

In a recent interview with Travel Weekly, CEO Paul Metselaar explains why he is optimistic about the future of travel post COVID-19 and how optimism and perseverance will help get us through the global pandemic.