Ovation's weekly client e-newsletter, the Informed Traveler, keeps readers updated on travel industry news and trends.
Following is a recap of January's top 5 (most clicked by Ovation clients) e-newsletter stories.
1. UK TO DROP COVID-19 TESTING REQUIREMENTS FOR FULLY VACCINATED TRAVELERS
The UK government has announced that it is dropping its testing requirements for eligible fully vaccinated travelers and individuals under 18. Beginning Friday, February 11, those groups will no longer be required to take a COVID-19 test either before or after arrival in the UK, and will only need to complete a passenger locator form. Additionally, unvaccinated or partly vaccinated travelers will still be required to take a pre-departure test and a PCR test on or before day 2 after arrival in the UK; however, they will no longer need to quarantine unless the result of the PCR test is positive. Unvaccinated or partly vaccinated travelers will also need to complete a passenger locator form. According to the UK government website, the new rules will apply for travel to all four countries - England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the further relaxation of the travel rules was designed to show that the country was open to travelers and business.
2. AT&T AND VERIZON DELAY 5G LAUNCH NEAR US AIRPORTS TO AVOID FLIGHT DISRUPTIONS
Wireless carriers AT&T and Verizon have agreed to temporarily delay the launch of 5G towers near key US airports to avert a significant disruption to US flights, reports Reuters. The agreement comes after concerns that high tech radio signals could interfere with navigational systems on some aircraft. The FAA has warned that 5G wireless interference could affect sensitive airplane instruments such as radio altimeters and significantly hamper low-visibility operations. The FAA said it anticipated "there will be some impacts due to the limitations of some radio altimeters." Verizon will temporarily pause the launch of 5G on about 500 towers near airports while the carriers and the Biden administration work on a permanent solution; additional details, including the length of the pause, were not disclosed. Delta Air Lines has stated that while the wireless moves are a positive development, "some flight restrictions may remain." Additionally, despite the agreement, several international carriers including Air India, Emirates, Japan Airlines, and All Nippon Airways have canceled some US-bound flights because of possible 5G interference. Other airlines may also cancel some additional flights in the coming hours as they wait for formal guidance from the FAA on the announcements from Verizon and AT&T.
3. CDC UPDATES TRAVEL ADVISORIES FOR OVER 40 WORLDWIDE DESTINATIONS
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced updated travel advisories for over 40 countries and territories, reports Travel Pulse. Among the updates, 22 destinations have been added to the CDC's “Level Four: Very High” travel advisory due to a rising number of COVID-19 cases. These countries and territories include Albania, Argentina, Australia, the Bahamas, Bahrain, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Bolivia, Egypt, Israel, Panama, Saint Lucia, Suriname, Turks and Caicos Islands, and Uruguay. In total, the CDC now lists just over 100 countries and territories at “Level 4,” the agency’s highest warning level. Additionally, the CDC revealed that it has added another 20 countries to the “Level 3: High” warning level, including Costa Rica, Cuba, Jamaica, Kuwait, and Uganda. The CDC recommends that unvaccinated Americans avoid nonessential travel to those destinations.
4. EU LIFTING RESTRICTIONS FOR TRAVELERS WITH DIGITAL COVID-19 CERTIFICATES
The European Union (EU) has announced several changes to COVID-related travel restrictions, with new regulations based on each traveler’s situation instead of the country of departure, reports Travel Pulse. Beginning February 1, the EU member states will lift all restrictions to free movement for travelers holding a digital COVID-19 certificate that certifies they have been vaccinated with at least two shots in the last 270 days, a certificate of recovery from COVID-19, or a negative test taken in the last 72 hours. “This means that a traveler’s COVID-19 vaccination, test or recovery status, as evidenced by a valid EU digital COVID certificate, should be the key determinant,” the European Union Council said. “A person-based approach will substantially simplify the applicable rules and will provide additional clarity and predictability to travelers.” Travelers without an EU Digital COVID-19 certificate will have to test negative 24 hours before or after arrival, but children under the age of 12 will be exempt from the mandates.
5. US CBP DESIGNATES MOBILE PASSPORT CONTROL AS ONLY AUTHORIZED APP FOR INTERNATIONAL ARRIVALS
The US Custom and Border Protection (CBP) has announced that the Mobile Passport Control (MPC) app will be the only authorized application available for mobile entry upon arrival to the US. Beginning February 1, inbound international travelers who want to use a mobile app for entry into the US will no longer be able to use other apps, including Airside Mobile and Clear MPC. The MPC app allows eligible travelers to submit their passport and customs declaration information through a free, secure app on their smartphone or other mobile device. The use of MPC streamlines the entry process into the US by reducing passport control inspection time and overall wait time. Use of MPC is free and does not require pre-approval, and travelers who successfully use the app will no longer have to complete a paper form or use an APC kiosk. As a result, travelers may experience shorter wait times, less congestion, and efficient processing. CBP’s MPC app is a free application that can be downloaded on iOS and Android devices, and is currently available for eligible travelers to use upon arrival at MPC approved sites.