Greetings from cold and rainy Southern California! The temperatures dipped down into the 30s yesterday and it even snowed in parts of Malibu. Crazy! Just like all of this week’s travel news. FYI: If you get my Daily Travel Tip newsletter then some of the stories will be familiar but not all. That’s for sure.
Medical-grade masks are now required on some European airlines. Will the US follow?
For starters … one of the big stories I’ve been covering is whether medical-grade masks will soon be required in the US? Lufthansa, Germany’s largest airline, started requiring them (they’re now required in German shops and on public transportation as well), last week and now passengers flying the national airlines of Austria, Belgium and Switzerland will have to wear them as well. This mandate apparently refers to either a surgical mask, or FFP2/KN95/N95 mask and all “face coverings” or any other types of masks will be banned. I think that kind of policy is coming here to the US and so do other travel experts. Here’s the story.
–Why You Should Buy Medical Grade Masks Now
–Everything You Need To Know About N95 and KN95 Face Masks
–Buy N95 & KN95 masks on Amazon
–Aiden Health’s N95, KN95 masks and other PPE
(Full disclosure: These are my affiliate links so I will earn a small referral fee but it doesn’t cost you anything extra.)
U.S. ‘actively looking’ at mandating COVID-19 testing for domestic air travel
This could put a huge kink in travel and numbers are already way down (see story below). “The Biden administration is “actively looking” at expanding mandatory COVID-19 testing to travelers on U.S. domestic flights, a senior Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official said on Tuesday.” (Reuters)
TSA Checkpoint Numbers
BREAKING NEWS: “TSA officers screened 468,933 people at airport checkpoints across the country yesterday, Tuesday, Jan. 27. The last time checkpoint volume fell below 500,000 was six months ago, on July 4, 2020, when 466,669 people were screened nationwide.” (Lisa Farbstein, TSA Spokesperson)
Boeing 737 MAX safe to return to service in Europe, regulator says
Boeing’s 737 MAX airliner is safe to return to service in Europe, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said on Wednesday, lifting a 22-month flight ban after two crashes of the jet which caused 346 deaths. (Reuters)
‘Have we learned nothing?’ California faces backlash for lifting stay-home order
California’s decision to lift its stay-at-home order is drawing backlash from health experts and frontline workers who warn that a premature reopening could prolong the crisis and further devastate hard-hit communities. (MSN)
Biden extends Europe, Brazil travel restrictions, adds South Africa
U.S. President Joe Biden signed an order on Monday barring most non-U.S. citizens who have recently been in South Africa from entering the United States, effective Saturday. Biden’s order also reimposes an entry ban, set to expire on Tuesday, on nearly all non-U.S. travelers who have been in Brazil, the United Kingdom, Ireland and 26 countries in Europe that allow travel across open borders. Last week, then-U.S. President Donald Trump revoked those restrictions which were imposed last year effective Tuesday. (Reuters)
Israel ‘closes skies’ to air travel to prevent spread of Covid-19 variants
Israel on Sunday announced a week-long ban on most incoming and outgoing flights in a bid to slow the spread of new variants of the novel coronavirus.(France 24)
New Zealand’s borders may stay shut for most of the year, PM Ardern says
New Zealand’s borders will remain closed for most of this year as the Covid-19 pandemic rages on, but the country will pursue travel arrangements with neighbouring Australia and other Pacific nations, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Tuesday. (CNN)
Austria extends flight ban from Britain and South Africa, bans Brazil flights
Austria has introduced a ban on flights from Brazil, while extending the existing ban on flights from Great Britain and South Africa. (The Local)
Mexico and Caribbean beach resorts offer Covid tests for new U.S. travel requirements
Beach resorts and small hotels alike throughout Mexico and the Caribbean are racing to ensure guests have access to Covid tests as new travel requirements take effect. Starting Tuesday, the U.S. government will require travelers over age 2, including U.S. citizens, to show proof of a recent, negative Covid-19 test result before boarding flights to the United States. (CNBC)
Hyatt Hotels Joins Others In Offering Free COVID-19 Testing In Latin America
You gotta love competition. Once Beaches, Sandals and a whole slew of Mexican resorts started offering free COVID-19 testing to meet the new USA reentry requirement, Hyatt Hotels introduced this… “All 19 Hyatt resorts in Latin America have arranged for complimentary on-property COVID-19 testing through May 31, 2021, for guests traveling to the U.S. This is valid for up to two registered guests per guestroom per stay at 19 participating resorts in Mexico, Costa Rica, the Caribbean, and South America.” (Hyatt)
People Are Faking COVID-19 Tests In Order To Travel
Nefarious characters are using Photoshop and Microsoft Paint to forge travel documents. (TravelPulse)
Disneyland to make the Jungle Cruise more inclusive after years-long complaints of racism
On Monday, the Walt Disney Co. announced that it’s embarking on what many view as a long-overdue course correction for the Jungle Cruise. Numerous changes will make the attraction feel more inclusive and less racially insensitive in its depiction of other cultures. (LA Times)
LAX Road Closures Daily, Nightly Start Jan. 25 Til Feb. 5
Folks heading to Los Angeles International Airport may experience some road closures due to work to support the construction of a modified lane configuration from World Way to southbound Sepulveda Boulevard. The road closures are expected to begin Monday, Jan. 25 and last through Friday, Feb. 5 and through traffic will be allowed, according to the airport website. The daily and nightly lane closures will take place on Lower World Way and the southbound Sepulveda Boulevard access ramp. From 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., a single lane closure on Lower World Way and on the southbound Sepulveda Boulevard access ramp will be in place. (Patch)
Hotel Quarantine: What Travelers To The UK Could Soon Face
Quarantine is also mandatory for all overseas arrivals except for those from Ireland. But ministers are considering much tougher and wide-ranging rules for arriving passengers in a bid to limit the spread of new variants of coronavirus – including arrivals self-isolating in designated hotels, rather than at home. (Independent UK)
Canada considering quarantining travelers in hotels
“No one should be taking a vacation abroad right now. If you’ve still got one planned, cancel it. And don’t book a trip for spring break,” Prime Minister Trudeau said. (Al Jazeera)
Canada working with the US to close travel ‘loophole’
Trudeau has acknowledged that constitutionally he cannot prevent Canadians from traveling, but he did warn that it might soon become much more difficult to return to Canada. “We could be bringing in new measures that significantly impede your ability to return to Canada, at any given moment, without warning,” Trudeau said during a news conference Friday, adding, “The bottom line is this: This is not the time to travel either internationally or across the country.” (CNN)
United Airlines CEO wants to make COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for employees — if other companies go along
United Airlines wants to make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for its workforce, as long as it’s not the only company to do so, CEO Scott Kirby told employees at a virtual meeting Thursday. (Chicago Tribune)
American Airlines has so much extra wine that it is starting a delivery service
The company said Thursday that a new program — called American Airlines Flagship Cellars — will give customers a chance to buy wine by the bottle, in custom “curated” cases, or via a monthly subscription plan that costs $99 per month. American Airlines’ single-bottle wine offerings range in price from about $13 to $40, and the most expensive offering is a $300 three-pack of Champagne. (CNN) & (AA Press Release)
Vaccinated travelers could be exempt from Hawaii quarantine, testing by spring
Lt. Gov. Josh Green said travelers who get vaccinated for COVID-19 will likely be exempted from quarantine and testing requirements as early as this spring. (Hawaii News Now)
United Makes Hawaii Travel Easier with Expanded COVID Testing and Pre-Clearance Program
Beginning February 1, United customers traveling to Hawaii who have a valid negative COVID-19 test can show their results before boarding to save time and skip document screening lines upon arrival. The new pre-clearance process will be in place for customers traveling on 110 of United’s weekly flights to Hawaii. United is also making it easier to get the right tests to avoid Hawaii’s 14-day quarantine by making approved COVID-19 tests available to all customers traveling to the islands no matter where in the U.S. their travel begins. To begin the pre-clearance program, customers will enroll in Hawaii’s Safe Travels program and complete Hawaii’s COVID-19 questionnaire within 24 hours from departure. Next, customers will use the Safe Travels website to upload their negative test results from one of Hawaii’s trusted testing partners which must be taken within 72 hours of their departure. At the airport, customers will see a United team member at the gate for their flight to Hawaii where they will receive a wristband if they qualify to bypass airport screening in Hawaii. Customers who have been pre-cleared will be able to skip test screenings in Hawaii and begin their trip as soon as they land. (United) Related: Alaska Airlines offers something similar
Southwest Airlines just announced 5 new routes to new destinations on the West Coast from across the US – here’s the full list
Santa Barbara and Fresno will become the 12th and 13th cities in California served by Southwest once service begins later this year, ramping up a rivalry between America’s largest low-cost carrier and Alaska Airlines. Both are striving to become the unofficial airline of the West Coast with an ever-growing presence in California, Oregon, and Washington from San Diego to Seattle. (Business Insider)
Norwegian Cruise Line will require crew members to get the COVID-19 vaccine before boarding as sailings continue to be pushed back
Norwegian Cruise Line and its Regent Seven Seas Cruises brand will be asking all of its crew members to receive the COVID-19 vaccine prior to boarding, the cruise companies’ spokespeople told Insider in an email statement. It’s just the latest sign that cruise sailings won’t be departing any time soon. (Business Insider)
Several cruise trips have already been cancelled this year. See when major cruise lines plan on operating again.
No major US cruise line will be setting sail around the country until, at the earliest, March. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends avoiding cruise trips during the pandemic. These are the updated 2021 sailing plans for cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Disney Cruises. (BI)
Airlines have banned more than 2,500 passengers for not wearing masks – here are the carriers that have booted the most
Newly inaugurated President Joe Biden just signed an executive order to mandate masks when flying travelers but it’s clear that airlines haven’t been waiting on the government for guidance. New data from the country’s largest airlines reveal that more than 2,500 passengers have been banned since the spring for violating onboard mask policies, and the list grows larger every day. (Business Insider)
Celebrity agent, 38, fights for his life in a coma in Mexico after falling ill with Covid-19
A GoFundMe Page has been set up to raise £100,000 for a celebrity agent from England who is in a coma in Mexico after falling ill with Covid-19, because his insurance only covers the first 24 hours of care. (Daily Mail)
Companies are racing to build digital passports for people to prove they’ve had the Covid vaccine
But there currently is no international or national coordination on the best practices for implementing vaccine passes, so groups including the airline industry and a coalition of tech and health giants are all working on their own systems. (CNBC)
American Airlines Introduces Health Passport for Travelers Flying to U.S.
Last week, American Airlines became the first U.S. airline to introduce a health passport for inbound travel to the United States from all international destinations. The airline also announced it will be utilizing VeriFLY, an app developed by Daon, to confirm testing and other COVID-19 travel requirements that began this past Saturday. Preston Peterson, Director of Customer Experience … (CNBC)
2 airlines are adding non-stop flights between Kansas City and Tampa for the Super Bowl
Southwest Airlines and American Airlines are adding non-stop flights to the Super Bowl. A one-way ticket from Kansas City to Tampa on Southwest costs over $700 at the time of writing. Tickets to the big game will be limited to 22,000, split between the general public and healthcare workers. (MSN)
Inaugural Poet Amanda Gorman to Perform Original Poem at Super Bowl
Speaking of the Super Bowl. This is pretty cool… Poet Amanda Gorman, the instant breakout star of President Joe Biden’s inauguration, will recite an original poem at the upcoming Super Bow LV. The National Football League made the announcement on Wednesday, revealing that Gorman will participate in the pregame ceremony ahead of the Feb. 7 game. (Variety)
Crankyflier.com’s Route Updates
- Aer Lingus won’t operate Dublin to Hartford or Shannon to Boston and JFK in February and March.
- Air New Zealand won’t fly from LA to Raratonga at least through June.
- Boutique starts Chadron to Rapid City and Phoenix to Prescott in February.
- British Airways won’t fly to Atlanta, Denver, or Las Vegas in February.
- Fiji Airways won’t fly LA to Nadi in March.
- French Bee has canceled Newark to Paris/Orly until May.
- Lufthansa won’t fly LA to Munich in February.
- Silver will start flying from Greenville/Spartanburg to Jacksonville, Orlando, and Tampa.
- Southern Air Express canceled a whole bunch of flying, but I have to wonder if it’s some kind of misfile.
- Sun Country won’t fly Minneapolis/St Paul to Sacramento this summer.
Travel Credit Card of The Week
Do you subscribe to popular streaming services like Netflix, Spotify, or Disney+? These credit cards (including no annual fee options) earn up to 6% back on these services.
New On My Travel Podcast/YouTube Channel
Thanks to COVID-19, back in April, I launched a podcast/YouTube series. It’s available on Apple Podcasts as well as Google and Spotify. So, if you’re looking for some new things to listen to on your walk, drive or whenever you listen to podcasts, I hope you’ll check it out. You can listen to all of my 39 Travel Questions YouTube interviews.