OCTOBER 14, 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.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has reported new findings regarding the low incidence of inflight transmissions of COVID-19. Since the start of 2020, there have been 44 cases of COVID-19 reported in which transmission is thought to have been associated with a flight journey (including confirmed, probable and potential cases). During the same period, some 1.2 billion passengers have traveled. “The risk of a passenger contracting COVID-19 while onboard appears very low. With only 44 identified potential cases of flight-related transmission among 1.2 billion travelers, that’s one case for every 27 million travelers. We recognize that this may be an underestimate but even if 90% of the cases were un-reported, it would be one case for every 2.7 million travelers. We think these figures are extremely reassuring. Furthermore, the vast majority of published cases occurred before the wearing of face coverings inflight became widespread,” said Dr. David Powell, IATA’s Medical Advisor.

Airports and airlines are continuing to add COVID-19 testing capabilities to help ease concerns of fliers, reports Travel Pulse. In the US, Tampa International Airport (TPA) has become the first airport to make tests available to all ticketed travelers. For now, the program is only a 31-day pilot, but during October, travelers will be able to get either a rapid antigen test for $57 or the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for $125. Elsewhere in the US, Miami International Airport (MIA) plans to make rapid testing available to all travelers by November. Meanwhile, airports in Bangalore, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Istanbul, London, Singapore and others have COVID-19 testing capabilities. At Frankfurt Airport in Germany, for example, a station run by Lufthansa is capable of administering 20,000 tests per day.

On Sunday, October 11th, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened 984,354 travelers at US airport checkpoints which is the highest number of travelers screened since April 14th, reports Travel Market Report. These numbers show significant improvement from the spring when the volume was as low as 87,534 on April 14th.

American Airlines has announced enhancements to their AAdvantage® loyalty program. American is making elite status easier to achieve in 2021 and is introducing a new rewards menu for its most loyal members. “We realize this year has been challenging for our members, so we’re happy to provide more ways to achieve more rewards,” said Rick Elieson, President of the AAdvantage program. “We thank our members for their continued loyalty, and we look forward to our continued relationship both on the ground and inflight as we head towards 2021.” Highlights of the 2021 AAdvantage Program include:
  • AAdvantage members can start earning elite status in 2021 right now. American will count all elite qualifying flight activity flown in the fourth quarter of 2020 toward a member’s 2021 qualifications.
  • Elite status requirements will start at 20,000 qualifying miles, 20 qualifying segments and 2,000 qualifying dollars to achieve Gold status, which would remain valid through January 31, 2023.
  • For 2021, American will also waive the elite qualifying dollar requirement for Gold, Platinum and Platinum Pro if members spend $30,000 on purchases with their eligible AAdvantage credit cards. This gives members another way to achieve their elite status goal.
  • Since October 1st, elite members enjoy benefits such as priority access, upgrades privileges, access to Preferred and Main Cabin Extra Seats and same-day confirmed flight changes during their journey on Basic Economy fares.

Three states were added to the Tri-State Travel Advisory that requires travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days, reports ABC 7 New York. Ohio, Michigan and Virginia now meet the metrics for the quarantine, which applies to any person arriving from an area with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a 7-day rolling average or an area with a 10% or higher positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average. New York, New Jersey and Connecticut update the quarantine list every Tuesday, as states are added and removed based on the average daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents. Click "Read More" below to view the current full list.

Hyatt Hotels Corporation has suspended the forfeiture of World of Hyatt reward points through June 30, 2021, the company announced. Generally, points would be forfeited if a member's account is inactive for 24 consecutive months. Business Travel News reports that the company has also extended the expiration date to December 31, 2021 for all awards with an expiration from March 1 to December 31, 2020, including unused Free Night, Suite Upgrade and Club Lounge Access awards. Free Night awards earned in 2020 with a 2021 expiration date will be extended to December 31, 2021. Suite Upgrade and Club Lounge Access awards with a February 28, 2021, expiration date will be extended to December 31, 2021.

European Union member states have approved a series of guidelines aimed at facilitating free movement across the bloc and avoiding further disruption during the COVID-19 pandemic, reports US News. The member states agreed to provide COVID-19 data to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), which will publish a weekly map sorting regions according to the severity of coronavirus outbreaks. The criteria used to define the colored zones - green, orange and red - are the number of newly notified cases per 100,000 in the past 14 days, as well as the testing rate and the test positivity rate in the past week. National EU governments will continue to set their own restrictions such as quarantines or mandatory testing upon arrival for people coming from orange or red zones.

British Airways has announced that it is offering a new option for travelers who are interested in booking the entire First Class cabin on flights between North America and London. British Airways' new offering allows travelers looking for personal space during COVID-19 the opportunity to book the entire cabin as an alternative to a charter flight. Travelers can request either one-way or round-trip tickets for themselves and their traveling companions. For more information, please contact your Ovation travel consultants.