Ovation's weekly client e-newsletter, the Informed Traveler, keeps readers updated on travel industry news and trends.
Following is a recap of March's top 5 (most clicked by Ovation clients) e-newsletter stories.
Travelers may encounter longer flights and higher ticket prices as the airline industry faces travel restrictions and high oil prices due to the Russia-Ukraine crisis, reports Yahoo. Airlines are bracing for potentially lengthy blockages of key East-West flight corridors after the US, European Union, Canada, and Moscow issued reciprocal airspace bans this week in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The sanctions have caused flight cancellations and detours, impacting the airline industry's pandemic recovery. The move by the US to ban Russian planes is expected to provoke a response from Moscow; this could impact carriers like United Airlines, which uses Russian airspace for flights from Delhi. American Airlines has already said it will not use any Russian airspace for international flights and will suspend interline deals with Russian carriers Aeroflot and S7 Airlines indefinitely. Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines has suspended its codesharing partnership with Russian national airline Aeroflot.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has extended the mask mandate for public transportation and transportation hubs through April 18, reports CBS News. The requirement remains for individuals across all transportation networks throughout the US, including at airports, onboard commercial aircraft, on over-the-road buses, and on commuter bus and rail systems. The extension comes at the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which will help government agencies with a framework to revise their policies regarding mask requirements on public transportation and in transportation hubs. According to a TSA official, the revised framework "will be based on the COVID-19 community levels, risk of new variants, national data, and the latest science." TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a statement the agency's collaboration with industry and federal partners has been instrumental throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, "and now we are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel as demonstrated by the rapid recovery of the travel industry." The mask requirement has stayed in place even after the CDC announced a shift in COVID-19 guidance in February.
United Airlines has announced its new 'bag drop shortcut,' a new, simple way for travelers to skip the line, check their bag in a minute or less on average, and get to their flight. To use the new service, travelers can check-in on the United app and select the number of bags they plan to check. At a designated bag 'shortcut' location at the airport, travelers can place the bag on a scale and scan the boarding pass at a kiosk. A United staff member will check the traveler's ID, apply the bag tag, and complete the process. This free service is available at United's hubs in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, and Washington DC; the airline plans to expand bag drop shortcut to dozens more new airports this year.
The UK government has announced that all remaining COVID-19 travel restrictions -- including the Passenger Locator Form (PLF) and tests for all travelers regardless of vaccination status -- will be removed for travel to the UK beginning Friday, March 18. Additionally, given the current state of the pandemic and a move towards global travel volumes returning to normal, the UK's remaining managed hotel quarantine capacity will be fully removed by the end of March. According to the UK government website, the new rules will apply for travel to all four countries -- England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. To ensure the protection of public health, the government will maintain a range of contingency measures in reserve, which would enable it to take swift and proportionate action to delay any future harmful variants of COVID-19 entering the UK should the need arise. Travelers are reminded to be aware that while there will be no border health measures on arrival in the UK, other countries are at different stages in the pandemic and many still require them to comply with requirements.
Canada’s public health agency has announced that fully vaccinated travelers will be able to travel to the country without presenting a negative COVID-19 test result, reports The Washington Post. The eased restrictions go into effect April 1, and apply to travelers arriving by air, land, or marine borders. Until that time, all travelers 5 years and older are required to take either a rapid antigen test taken the day before their arrival or get tested with a molecular test within 72 hours of their arrival. Travelers who are not fully vaccinated are required to follow those testing protocols after April 1, and may have to undergo a 14-day quarantine and additional testing. Canadian Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos cited high vaccination rates, decreasing coronavirus cases, and a strict vaccination requirement for travel as contributing factors that “set the stage” for the eased policy.