The pandemic known as Coronavirus or COVID-19 is uncharted territory. Theaters and bars have closed, people work from home, and airports are empty. Does this mean no more summer vacations, no more long weekend getaways? Not necessarily, not if you follow the rules designed to keep yourself and others safe. And you need not fly now; the following tips and important information for uncertain travelers in the age of Coronavirus can be used now or whenever you're ready to fly.
The Big Decision: When is it safe to travel?
The question is, should you go or should you stay? Only you can make this decision. The young and healthy among us have more options in this era of Coronavirus, but all should do research. These links can help you make smart decisions.
- Statistical data: Check Worldometer for the number of cases of COVID-19 worldwide, country by country.
- S. State Department: Find travel advisories at Travel.State.Gov including the highest level 4 warnings (“Do Not Travel”) which currently includes China, Iraq and a few others. Note: As of March 14, 2020, the State Department advises U.S. citizens to reconsider any travel abroad.
- Health information: The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has a wide range of information on how to stay healthy during the Coronavirus pandemic and has a special section for uncertain travelers, complete with FAQs.
Airline and Airport Updates
- Change fee waivers: U.S. airlines and many other carriers around the world are allowing passengers to book flights or cancel existing itineraries without charging expensive change fees (up to $200 per ticker). See the list here. We are not yet aware of airlines offering refunds except to those who bought pricy refundable fares.
- Airport security: According to the TSA, travelers can now bring a large bottle of liquid hand-sanitizer up to 12 ounces through security checkpoints (other liquids are still limited to 3.4 ounces). Also, if you use a driver’s license for your checkpoint ID but it recently expired and your Department of Motor Vehicles is shut down, the TSA will let you through with the old ID.
Whether you want to travel now or later is up to you; we’ve seen good deals for travel through the December holidays so the cost of airfare isn’t much of a problem. A more important consideration is, are airlines flying to your destination, and will they continue to do so? In a memo dated 3-18-2020, Delta’s CEO said his airline is reducing capacity; the international operation was going to take the biggest hit with “over 80 percent of flying reduced over the next two to three months.” Check your airline’s website for coronavirus information and any discontinued flights. Other things you can do:
- Plan something special: For once, you've got the time to spend to plan a trip down to the tiniest details. Do a little research (it's fun); check out your favorite travel writer and consult with fellow adventurers. Tip: Don't miss your city's visitors site (for example, google Official Tourism Denver); these sites feature top attractions, local favorites plus where to dine and shop. Some of these sites even offer money-saving coupons.
- Set up fare alerts: Many sites have these but try FareCompare’s; we call them ‘anytime alerts’ because they let you know whenever the price to your destination goes down.
- Fly non-stops: Fewer flights may mean fewer chances to get infected.
- Use wipes: Take those hand-sanitizing wipes from your carry-on and use them on your tray table, armrests, seatbelt and lavatory doors. Use them in the airport too, and keep washing your hands.
Time for a Road Trip? Rent a Car
Many of us aren’t quite ready to hop in a plane again – not just yet – so a driving vacation could be the perfect solution. A couple of suggestions.
- Compare: Look at all car rental prices, just as you do with airfare; at FareCompare, we have car rental cost comparisons so you know you’re getting the best deal.
- Insurance: Always check to see what your insurance will cover on a rental and what it won’t.
- Where to drive: The National Park Service has an easy way to look up parks and monuments all across the country; check with individual parks (here’s a list) to see if they are open, and what the hours are.
This page will be updated with more information as we know more, so keep checking back for new information and resources.
The post COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Flight Information and Travel Updates appeared first on FareCompare.