|Iceland is open to U.S. visitors who have been vaccinated|
As Covid vaccinations ramp up across the U.S., it's time to sort through some of the ideas on how to kick-start travel here and abroad.
Here's my take on what policies deserve a thumbs up or thumbs down as summer approaches, Covid is still with us, and pent-up demand fuels an uptick in travel.
Airline change/cancellation fees
Thumbs up to a policy in effect at most airlines to waive cancellation and change fees. You won't get your money but you will get a credit good for future travel. Airlines must continue this policy if they expect to discourage passengers from traveling while sick just to avoid paying a change fee.
Thumbs down to a policy in effect by most airlines to exclude basic economy fares from the change/cancellation fee waivers.
Airbnb cancellation policies
Thumbs up to Airbnb hosts who offer full refunds on reservations (including the Airbnb service fee) cancelled a week or less ahead of arrival. This is a major incentive to book ahead without worrying about how Covid changes could impact your trip.
Thumbs down to a decision by some some hosts to require payment in full with the promise of just a 50 percent refund if you cancel. A recent search for Airbnbs on the Big Island of Hawaii turned up many with liberal cancellation polices, but it wasn't always easy to recognize those that didn't because of the tricky wording advertising "Free cancellation" for 48 hours; after that, get a 50 percent refund minus the service fee."
Thumbs up to efforts by various private companies and airline groups to standardize a system for digital verification of Covid vaccinations and tests. Other countries are ahead of the U.S. with this, and thus will make it easier for their citizens to travel internationally. Let's hope we catch up, but so far, with so much whining about privacy, it looks like we'll have to rely on privately-developed apps rather than a federal standard.
Thumbs up to airlines and countries that require either proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test to enter. I predict most countries will adopt the Iceland model: Enter freely with proof of vaccination or do a double test (on departure and arrival) along with a short quarantine in between.
Thumbs down to airlines and countries that require nothing more than a temperature check to travel. This so far applies to U.S. airlines flying domestically and countries such as Mexico which has put tourism ahead of health precautions.
|Hawaii requires visitors to have a negative Covid test|
Thumbs up to states such as Hawaii and countries such as Greece and Iceland which have come up with reasonable safety protocols such as requiring negative tests and/or vaccinations, masks and social distancing.
Thumbs down to states such as Texas, Florida, North Dakota and South Dakota and others with no mask mandates or other Covid safety restrictions. And a big thumbs down to Jamaica for its new Covid-era travel policy which restricts visitors to a tourist zone filled with corporate-owned resorts and expensive government-approved transport.
Foreign visitors must stay inside a special""Resilient Corridor" and stay only in hotels on a government "approved" list. They can only visit attractions approved by the Jamaica Tourist Board, and must travel to and from the sites on transportation licensed under the Tourist Board Act.
Thumbs up to Norwegian Cruise Line, Windstar and a few others for announcing they will require vaccination for all guests and crew. Expect other lines to follow as they gear up to resume cruises from U.S. ports in July.
Thumbs down to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for recommending but not requiring cruise lines to make sure all passengers and crew are vaccinated. By making vaccinations a recommendation rather than a requirement, the CDC avoided conflict with Florida, one of the biggest bases of operation for the cruise industry.