APRIL 20, 2022

A court ruling (details here) on Monday, April 18, has struck down the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mask mandate on US public transportation, effective immediately. In response, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will no longer enforce its Security Directives and Emergency Amendment requiring mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs. A US administration official said that while the agencies are assessing potential next steps, the court's decision means the CDC's public transportation masking order is no longer in effect. The administration could still opt to appeal the order or seek an emergency delay in the order's enforcement. While masks are no longer required at this time, the CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks in indoor public transportation settings. On Tuesday, the Justice Department said it would appeal the ruling if the CDC determines the mandate is still necessary to protect public health.

Following the announcement, many US travel suppliers -- including all major US airlines (Alaska, American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, United), Amtrak, and Uber -- have all announced that masks are no longer required domestically and optional as a result. For international flights, mask requirements will depend on the arriving country requirements. Ovation anticipates that further travel suppliers are likely to follow suit.  

As we continue to see an evolution in regulatory and supplier developments, we remind our travelers to visit Travel Vitals (https://www.ovationtravel.com/travel-vitals) for the most up-to-date information.

Click "Read More" for more details as published by CNN.

While face masks will no longer be required on a federal level throughout the US, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has announced that the mask mandate will remain in effect for some New York facilities due to local health guidance, reports Travel Market Report. The continued mandate will apply to LaGuardia Airport (LGA) and John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), along with the Port Authority Bus Terminal (PABT), New York Stewart International Airport (SWF), and the World Trade Center Oculus Transportation Hub. The New York Subway system, along with the PATH Train into and out of New Jersey, will also continue to require masks due to the local New York state rules.

Meanwhile, Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), New Jersey's largest airport and another major metro-New York hub, along with Teterboro Airport (TEB) will not require masks moving forward, following additional New Jersey public health guidance issued on April 19.

Following the US lifting its mask mandate on public transportation on April 18, Canada announced it would retain its mask mandate, reports Skift. A spokesperson for Canada's Transport Minister confirmed that masks will continue to be required on Canadian airlines and on flights that depart from or arrive in Canada. The Canadian government stands by this decision with confidence, as surveys show that there are a majority of Canadians in favor of the mandate. The Canadian federal government also requires travelers to wear masks and track close contacts for 14 days after arriving in the country. "We are taking a layered approach to keeping travelers safe, and masks remain an incredibly useful tool in our arsenal against COVID-19," the spokesperson wrote in an email.

Days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced it would change how it classifies destinations and their level of risk, the agency has removed all destinations from its highest Level 4 travel warning, reports Travel + Leisure. Moving forward, Level 4 will be reserved for "special circumstances, such as rapidly escalating case trajectory or high case counts, emergence of a new variant of concern, or healthcare infrastructure collapse." The remaining three levels are broken down as follows:

  • Level 3 - "very high": more than 100 new cases reported per 100,000 people over the past 28 days
  • Level 2 - "moderate": between 50-100 new cases reported per 100,000 people over the last 28 days
  • Level 1 - "low": less than 50 new cases reported per 100,000 people over the last 28 days

Many destinations that were previously classified under the CDC's highest warning level were re-classified as Level 3, including much of Europe and several popular Caribbean islands. The agency has also classified the US as a Level 3 country. The CDC's decision to change how it warns against travel comes as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said it would stop enforcing the federal transportation mask mandate in the US with several major airlines dropping mask rules as a result.

United Airlines has once again extended ticket validity for all wholly unused tickets purchased since May 2019, reports Travel Weekly. Under the new policy, unused tickets purchased between May 2019 and December 31, 2022, will be valid through the end of 2023. Tickets purchased on or after January 1, 2023, will be valid for 12 months from the issue date. Previously, United had set the expiration date for tickets purchased during the pandemic to the end of this year or 12 months from the purchase date, whichever fell later.

The airline also announced that effective immediately, travelers may cancel wholly unused basic economy tickets and keep those funds as credit toward another ticket. A cancellation fee of $49.50 each way for domestic tickets and $99.50 each way for international tickets will be assessed. United traditionally has not allowed any changes to basic economy itineraries, although it did allow such changes without a fee during portions of the pandemic. The airline plans to keep the new policy over the long-term.

American Airlines has announced that the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi), a coalition that defines and promotes best practices in emissions reduction targets, has approved American's 2035 target as consistent with levels required to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement; this makes American the first airline in the world with a science-based target approved by SBTi. Last summer, American became the first airline in North America to make a public commitment to developing a science-based target for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

American's science-based target is to reduce carbon intensity, meaning GHG emissions per unit of passenger and cargo payload, by 45% by 2035, serving as a checkpoint on the way to 2050 which is when they aim to become a net-zero airline. American is also committed to reducing the emissions from the production of electricity the airline purchases by 40% by 2035.

Currently, 16 additional airlines across the globe, including American's partner IAG and a few US carriers, have also committed to setting science-based targets with the hope of "creat[ing] a future in which air travel's impact on the environment is far less than it is today."
HILTON BOSTON LOGAN AIRPORT
ONE HOTEL DRIVE
BOSTON
As the only AAA Four Diamond hotel directly connected to Logan Airport, just minutes from downtown, Hilton Boston Logan Airport keeps guests connected to it all. Experience the new Business Class accommodations designed with the business traveler in-mind. Dressed in tranquil blue tones, each guest room offers laptop table, ample power sources, refrigerator, spacious work area, premium Wi-Fi, and soundproofed windows for the ultimate in quiet comfort.

Ovation clients receive a 20% discount in all food and beverage outlets. Not valid on in-room dining or the purchase of alcoholic beverages. Does not apply to taxes or gratuity.
LOEWS MIAMI BEACH HOTEL
1601 COLLINS AVENUE
MIAMI BEACH
Visit South Beach for business. Stay for the sand and sea. With 65,000 square feet of function space, direct beach access, spacious suites and more, Loews Miami Beach Hotel offers the quintessential blend of work and play.

From boardroom to beach, the renowned resort provides premier service and luxury touches at every turn. An oceanfront paradise where sophisticated style meets beachfront chic, taking care of business and soaking up the sunshine have never been easier. Spend the day at the hotel’s iconic pool deck. Relax in 790 beautifully appointed guestrooms, including newly redesigned presidential suites. Savor Miami-inspired flavors at five restaurants, including the award-winning Lure Fishbar. Indulge at SOAK Cabanas or recharge at Exhale Spa.

Additional amenities include a fitness center, state-of-the-art Kids Club, and premium shopping at Splash and Splish boutiques.
MARTINIQUE NEW YORK ON BROADWAY CURIO COLLECTION
49 WEST 32ND STREET
NEW YORK CITY
Martinique New York on Broadway Curio Collection has been exquisitely restored and reopened December 2021 as the new crown of Manhattan. Located in Midtown Manhattan, the Martinique welcomes guests with entirely refreshed guest rooms, a new Art Deco inspired lobby, and a brand-new state-of-the-art gym. This award-winning historic hotel is a member of the Historic Hotels of America and is just steps away from the Empire State Building, Macy’s Herald Square, Madison Square Garden, and Penn Station. The Early Edition currently serves breakfast and all-day menu while six elevated dining outlets including The Press Club a New York style chophouse and gourmet doughnut shop are opening in 2022 to early 2023. Completely renovated, the hotel has 10 meeting spaces totaling 7,800 square feet. Meetings from 10 to 400 are conducted with ease by the full-service banquet staff.
ROYAL SONESTA PORTLAND DOWNTOWN
506 SW WASHINGTON
PORTLAND
Providing first-class hotel accommodation to travelers in the Rose City, all Ovation clients will receive a complimentary upgrade to a King Suite during their stay. Royal Sonesta Portland offers the perfect combination of style, service, and amenities to all Ovation clients in the heart of beautiful downtown Portland, which include:
  • Complimentary upgrade to a King Suite
  • Complimentary in-room wireless high-speed Internet access 
  • Complimentary morning coffee and tea service 
  • Onsite valet parking (2 Tesla/Electric car charging stations)
  • Concierge services
  • 24-hour state of the art fitness center 
  • Onsite Aveda Dosha Spa 
  • Use of the Quiet Room for meditation, prayer, stretching, or uninterrupted 'me time'
SOFITEL CHICAGO MAGNIFICENT MILE
20 EAST CHESTNUT STREET
CHICAGO
The recently renovated Sofitel Chicago Magnificent Mile provides 4-star downtown Chicago hotel accommodations minutes from Lake Michigan, Navy Pier, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Millennium Park, the John Hancock Center, the Chicago Water Tower, and upscale boutiques. Designed by French architect Jean-Paul Viguier, this downtown Chicago hotel is a 32-floor prism of glass, boasting 415 rooms, including 33 luxurious suites. Modern design and a refined European approach to hospitality takes center stage. The accent is on comfort within this sleek Chicago luxury hotel. Four hundred and fifteen luxury hotel suites and rooms exemplify "art de vivre" with designer furnishings, spacious marble bathrooms and views of downtown and the John Hancock Observatory.
THE ROYAL HORSEGUARDS
2 WHITEHALL COURT
LONDON
An impressive historic building in London, The Royal Horseguards Hotel is situated on the River Thames at the Embankment. The Royal Horseguards Hotel encompasses two iconic London buildings which have played host to historical icons including Churchill and Lloyd-George and the club’s magnificent apartments which was previously the home of the first chief of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service.
Inside guests will find Victorian grandeur combined with elegant, first-class contemporary comfort and 5-star service which sets The Royal Horseguards Hotel apart as one of the finest hotels in London.

With The Royal Horseguards Hotel as a base, guests are within easy walking distance of Embankment, Covent Garden and The Strand. After a busy day, enjoy dinner at the restaurant, One Twenty One Two or the intimate Equus bar, before heading back to the room for a perfect night’s sleep in a sumptuous Hypnos® bed.
Ovation Travel Group is wholly owned by American Express Global Business Travel (GBT). GBT is a joint venture that is not wholly owned by American Express Company or any of its subsidiaries (American Express). “American Express Global Business Travel”, “American Express", and the American Express logo are trademarks of American Express and are used under limited license. “American Express Meetings & Events” is a division of GBT.