Coronavirus and travel: What’s ahead for summer and fall?
European vacations, Caribbean cruises and spring break getaways all came to a screeching halt amid the coronavirus pandemic. Now, cabin fever brought on by social distancing has many of us dreaming about destinations near and far, but when will we be able to travel?
We asked Livin’ Upstate contributor Deb Metcalf and Walter Burgess of Travel Agents International in Greenville to weigh in on what travel may look like in the months ahead.
“We’re receiving updates on a daily basis from the Caribbean islands, from Europe and many other destinations, and it looks like a lot of them will be up and running by mid-June,” Metcalf said. “We’re looking at a slow start, but right now the timing looks like sometime in June.”
The lack of COVID-19 cases on many of the islands in the Caribbean are destinations to consider, Burgess adds. “Those are the places I would consider right now, and I would try to get a direct flight.”
Destinations and resorts that closed before they were required to do so also are high on TAI’s list of travel recommendations.
“They are the ones who will take care of you when they reopen,” Burgess said. “Their reputations depend on it for next year and the following year.”
But the ability to get a flight is key as airlines work toward implementing safety measures, Metcalf said.
Many airlines have announced plans not to sell the middle seat on flights. And wearing a face covering will be customary, and even required by most domestic airlines. American, United, Delta, Southwest, Alaska, Frontier and JetBlue have all announced passenger mask requirements.
Delta and JetBlue are making face masks mandatory from the time they check in through the time they deplane. Delta, which says customers can take them off for meals, will also require them in its Sky Club lounges, according to news reports.
Travelers also may find more airports using machines to check passengers for fever, and security checkpoints may have plexiglass shields between passengers and screeners.
Burgess recommends that travelers practice wearing a face covering before heading out on a long trip.
“You don’t want to get on a four-hour flight wearing a mask for the first time, then realize it’s impossible for you to do,” Burgess said. “If you’re planning on traveling, you need to get used to a face covering.”
From vacation rental cons to scammers selling bogus COVID-19 travel protection, avoiding online travel scams is another concern for consumers.
Using a travel advisor is one way to alleviate those concerns, Metcalf says.
“Having a local advocate is important, especially at a time like this,” Metcalf said. “Travel advisors know the products, the process and policies, and they won’t put clients in a property that is not up to standard.”
And when it comes to travel insurance? “Always purchase it,” Metcalf says. “While it doesn’t cover pandemics, it does cover loss of a job, medical issues and evacuation services.”