MAY 6, 2020

At Ovation, we remain committed to providing excellent service to our valued clients throughout the COVID-19 global pandemic. Click the “Read More” link below to view our travel resources with travel information regarding COVID-19 including: Airline Face Covering Regulations, Passport Delays, Airline and Hotel Refund Policies, Loyalty Program Extensions, Real ID Extensions and Amtrak Reduction and Acela Suspension.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is weighing the possibility of requiring face coverings for travelers who pass through checkpoints, reports Reuters. According to a US official and two people familiar with the deliberations, the move is part of a broader rethinking of how to limit the spread of COVID-19 during air travel. Travelers passing through TSA checkpoints will see other changes, including additional barriers to protect security officers, more extensive cleaning regimes and upgraded screening equipment to speed travelers through lines faster. The discussions over possible face covering requirements came after nearly every major US airline said in the past week they will require travelers to wear them onboard flights. San Diego International Airport (SAN) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO) already require face coverings.

US airlines such as Alaska, American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest and United are currently or will soon begin requiring their passengers to wear face coverings, reports Newsweek. Most airlines state their guidelines follow the recommendations of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which last month advised members of the public to wear a cloth face covering in situations where social distancing measures are difficult to follow. Click the "Read More" link below to read each airline's face covering rules and when they go into effect.

The nation's biggest travel trade group, US Travel Association, has unveiled enhanced cleaning, social distancing and touchless payment procedures for hotels, airlines, airports, theme parks, restaurants and cruise lines, reports The Los Angeles Times. The protocols for operating in a post-COVID-19 world set basic standards that all travel and hospitality businesses should adhere to once government and medical experts lift stay-at-home orders and give a green light for leisure and business travel. Most of the steps called for by the US Travel Association are among the practices promoted for weeks by the CDC, including increased cleaning and hand washing, installation of physical barriers, use of masks and gloves and social distancing. Another trade group, the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) also released similar suggested protocols earlier this week.

Amtrak is taking active measures to protect both riders and operators during the COVID-19 outbreak. Among the measures taken, Amtrak is encouraging all employees and travelers to wear masks or other facial coverings, along with their initiative to sanitize stations and trains through enhanced cleaning protocols, limit bookings and more. Click the "Read More" link below for full details regarding Amtrak's measures to maintain a safe environment.

Additionally, Amtrak has also implemented new boarding procedures at Union Station in Washington, DC. As of Monday, May 4th, the following changes have been implemented:
  • Amtrak is limiting reservations to 50% of the available seats to ensure plenty of available seating
  • Priority boarding will be discontinued
  • Boarding times will be adjusted to avoid lines and waiting at the station
  • Passengers without checked bags are advised to be at the station no more than 30 minutes prior to departure
  • Passengers with checked bags are advised to be at the station no more than 60 minutes prior to departure
  • Amtrak employees at stations and onboard are required to wear face masks
  • Customers are encouraged to wear face coverings when using Amtrak services

CLICK HERE to read full details regarding Union Station's boarding changes.

Airlines for America (A4A), the lobby trade group representing the bulk of US airline carriers, is meeting with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to discuss the possibility of taking travelers’ temperatures before boarding, reports Travel Pulse. The move, which would happen right at the screening checkpoints, could help reduce the spread of COVID-19 as the country gets back to flying. Talks are preliminary, but the idea is not far-fetched. “This continues to be a rapidly evolving situation and US carriers remain in close contact with multiple federal agencies, the administration, Congress and public health experts as we prepare for a relaunch of our industry,” A4A said in a statement. Additionally, TSA said in a statement it has been discussing health-related issues with its parent agency, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), as well as the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

United Airlines unveiled its plans to implement social distancing to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 on flights as travelers begin to fly again, reports Business Insider. As part of its plan, first and business class passengers will now have to wait until the rest of the aircraft is boarded, including economy sections, before they can board. The move to back-to-front boarding is intended to reduce the number of passengers those sitting in the back of the plane encounter on the way to the furthest rows. Pre-boarding procedures will remain for those who require the service and only the highest tiered members of the airline's frequent flyer program. The move coincides with United's other measures of requiring passengers to wear face coverings and blocking off the middle seats in economy as well as 50% of paired first class seats to increase social distancing.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) has restricted access to all terminals at John F. Kennedy (JFK), LaGuardia (LGA) and Newark Liberty (EWR) airports in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, reports Airport Technology. As per the update, terminal access in these airports has been restricted to ticketed travelers, airport employees and those who must enter the facility for airport business. PANYNJ said that the new measures have been put in place due to the recent shifts in flight and traveler activity and changes in the airports’ operational footprints, security, cleaning and maintenance protocols. This new policy will stay active through the duration of the emergency orders from New York and New Jersey, the Port Authority said. During this period, the Port Authority Police will be available to assist in monitoring access to terminals. People entering a terminal may be asked to produce evidence of their reason for entry. This includes their ticket, boarding pass, flight reservation or a comparable item for a flight departing from that particular airport.