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Airlines Pushback Reopening Flights Between US And Europe Amid Covid Case Surges 

US borders are currently closed to travelers from the European Union (EU) and the UK, and have been that way for over 500 days now. While there hasn’t been a formal announcement as to when these borders will reopen, airlines are beginning to push back the scheduled restart of their London-New York flights. 

Initially flights were set to resume between the two major cities in September, but now airlines are waiting until November. New outlets in Ireland seemed to allude that the US would be lifting its travel ban in time for Labor Day weekend, however, no official announcements have been made to confirm those reports. 

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The EU is currently discussing whether or not they will reopen their borders to US citizens while the Department of Homeland Security announced that it will be keeping land borders between Mexico and Canada closed until at least September 21st. 

Land border restrictions don’t apply to cross-border trade, US citizens.lawful permanent residents, or individuals traveling for school or medical reasons. Travel into Canada is also now allowed for US citizens who are fully vaccinated. 

Jeff Zients is the White House Covid-19 coordinator who recently held a press briefing regarding the reopening of international borders and US travel in general. 

“The interagency working groups are currently developing a policy process, and we will be ready when it is the right time to consider reopening travel. And that’ll be guided, as always, by science and public health.”

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Travel correspondent Simon Calder claims that “in the past 48 hours I have asked a number of travel industry chief executives about when the current presidential proclamation banning arrivals from the U.K. might be lifted. Their answers and predictions range from ‘September’ to ‘no idea’.”

“The main problem now appears to be two-fold: inertia (once draconian rules are imposed, they can be slow to remove), combined with an unwillingness in Washington DC to complicate the difficult domestic situation at a time when the Delta variant is running wild across America, especially in the key tourism state of Florida.”

Henry Smith, chairman of the all-party Future of Aviation group told the press that “the figures are going in the wrong direction for the U.S. and I don’t really see any appetite in the U.S. to open up sooner rather than later. It is slightly different for the U.S. because they have such a big domestic market, which means international travel makes up a smaller proportion of the industry’s revenues.”

The US currently allows entry to any US citizen and their dependents as well as anyone who has spent 14 days in a country not listed on the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention’s prohibited list.

American Airlines

United Airlines Now Requiring All US Employees To Get Covid-19 Vaccinations 

United Airlines will now require all of its 67,000 US employees to get vaccinated against Covid-19 by October 25th or they will risk termination. This is a first for major US travel agencies that will likely ramp up the pressure for rival services. 

Airlines have mainly been offering incentives for vaccinated employees, like extra pay or time off for being inoculated. Delta Air Lines in May started requiring all new employees show proof of vaccination in order to get hired and United followed suit in June. 

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United’s requirements mark the strictest mandate implemented by a travel service in the US so far. Other companies like Facebook and Walmart have announced that they are requiring all corporate employees to show proof of vaccination before returning to the office. 

 United CEO Scott Kirby and President Brett Hart sent out a note to all employees this Friday detailing why this requirement is so important for the future of the company and air travel in general. 

“We know some of you will disagree with this decision to require the vaccine for all United employees. But, we have no greater responsibility to you and your colleagues than to ensure your safety when you’re at work, and the facts are crystal clear: everyone is safer when everyone is vaccinated.”

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The note detailed that United Airlines employees must upload proof that they received either two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or one dose of Johnson & Johnson’s single dose five weeks after federal officials give them approval, or by October 25th, whichever comes first. 

The mandate will not apply to regional airlines that fly shorter express flights for United. 

About 90% of all pilots and 80% of all flight attendants working for United Airlines claim to already be fully vaccinated, according to company officials. So the mandate is more so for employees working on the ground in the airports who see tens of thousands of flyers every day. 

About 60% of all American Airlines pilots are also vaccinated, according to a letter from the company’s union, the Allied Pilots Association, which has been working to get more employees vaccinated. 

The rise in Covid-19 cases last fall combined with the new highly-contagious Delta variant is motivating travel employees to create new ways to protect themselves from future travel. Time will tell what other agencies will follow United’s lead in terms of vaccination requirements.

Airplane Taking Off

Airline CEOs Urging Governments To Open Travel Between US And UK

Several large airlines based in the United States and United Kingdom have called upon their government leaders in an attempt to revive air travel between the two countries. Airline leaders are asking for an international summit to discuss the issue and lay out a possible plan for bringing back travel between the two nations. 

US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and his UK counterpart Grant Shapps received the letter which was signed by the CEOs of Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, American Airlines, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and JetBlue Airways.

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“Public health must guide the reopening of international air travel and we are confident that the aviation industry possesses the right tools, based on data and science, to enable a safe and meaningful restart to transatlantic travel.” 

JetBlue and US industry group Airlines for America have stated previously that they both have plans to revive travel between the US and UK this summer. 

“US and UK citizens would benefit from the significant testing capability and the successful trial of digital applications to verify health credentials.” 

The executives discussed in the letter how an increase in vaccinations between both countries, as well as advanced testing efforts now being implemented in international airlines, should give travelers the confidence that they’ll be safe from infection. 

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Both nation’s airlines also discussed the economic recovery efforts that they’re enduring, as the travel industry took one of the biggest hits as a result of the pandemic. The US is the nation that currently bars the most non-US citizens from entering into the country due to Covid-19 safety concerns. 

“Just last week, Secretary Buttigieg and G7 Transport Ministers met to discuss the complexities around reopening international travel and how to do so safely.” the U.S. Transportation Department said in a statement. 

“These conversations are ongoing. The Department will be reviewing the letter with other agencies as part of the whole of the government approach to COVID recovery.”

The UK’s Department for Transport didn’t immediately respond to the letter, however, it’s expected that the two nations will be in talks in the coming months on how to best reopen travel. 

Woman Traveling in Greece

Top Tips From A Travel Agent On Booking Future Vacations 

While the Covid-19 pandemic is still very much an issue in our world, with the release of multiple vaccines and advanced health and safety procedures being implemented to curb the spread, many are remaining optimistic, and spending their remaining days in quarantine fantasizing about where they’ll travel to first once the world reopens again. While we may not know exactly when we’ll be able to hop on a plane without worrying about if we have our masks or not, it can be fun to start thinking about the future now.

Nadine Cresswell-Myatt is a travel journalist who recently published the best tips she’s ever received from a travel agent before, so here are some things to keep in mind the next time you have the opportunity to leave your house for a while. 

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First and foremost you should always book early morning flights in the middle of the week, specifically Tuesday if you can. Regardless of if you’re a morning person or not, flights leaving early in the day are much less likely to be delayed, additionally, by the time you get to your destination, depending on how early and long your flight is, you’ll have more of the day to take in the scenery and start enjoying your vacation right away. 

The best days of the week to travel are also always in the middle of the week, and statistically speaking Tuesday’s are the least busy days for most airports in America. Mid-week early morning tickets also tend to be much cheaper than say a 6 p.m flight on a Friday. If you’re the type of person who packs a lot and gets nervous that a packed flight may prevent you from using overhead carry on storage, definitely consider getting a flight on one of the least busy travel days in general. 

A more niche, yet useful, tip for couples or anyone traveling in a group setting is to always pack a complete change of clothes in the other person’s suitcase. While this may sound weird, if you find yourself in the unfortunate situation where the airline loses your luggage, or accidentally ships it to the wrong location therefore delaying how long you are without your clothes, having at least one change of clothes will be enough to hold you over for the first day or two; or until you can get to a clothing store. 

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Keep all prescription medication in your carry on. This goes along with the previous tip of ensuring you have all your necessities should the worst happen and an airline lose your luggage. Your health is never something to be taken for granted, as this pandemic has taught us, so if you’re an individual taking prescription medication in any context, make sure you have it on you at all times just in case. 

Along those same lines, bring more medication than you will need. Some travelers make the mistake of only packing the specific dosages that they’ll need for the time they’re gone, however, you never know what could happen. For example, say you’re getting ready to leave and a storm hits so your flight gets moved to another day, you don’t want to be left anxious thinking about how much medication you have left. 

Finally, if you’re using a travel agent, only use ones that have actually been to the destination you’re trying to go to. It’s the same concept for any type of professional you would hire to do a service for you. You would never hire a real estate agent that just moved to your town a week ago and didn’t know anything about the area, you would want the more established agent who has been selling homes in your town for decades. So whenever you’re able to take that first trip post-pandemic, plan smartly, and leave no box unchecked. 

Travel during COVID

US Government Urging Americans Not To Travel After New Testing Requirements Approved

The US government is continuing to urge Americans not to travel abroad after new restrictions went into effect this Tuesday that require all passengers travelling by air to present a negative Covid test taken within three days of the departure or proof of recovery from the virus within the past 90 days. 

Healthcare and government officials alike are worried that these new requirements will motivate travelers to go back out into the world since the approval process has never been easier. The reality is, however, there has never been a worse time for Americans to leave their homes, as over 421,000 citizens have now died from the virus. Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Ian Brownlee spoke to reporters and citizens this Tuesday, urging them to not travel. 

“If you cannot easily access a Covid-19 test, or if you test positive, you will end up overseas for much longer than you planned. If that happens, you will be responsible for covering your own lodging and medical costs during that time.”

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“Seriously reconsider going overseas right now,” Brownlee added, claiming that “US citizens who choose to go abroad, whether it’s for a holiday or a genuine emergency, need to be prepared to be potentially seriously disrupted in their trips.” 

The Centers for Disease Control and Preventions‘ director for the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, Marty Cetron, also spoke to the press with Brownlee, adding that the “bottom-line message is this is really not a time for people to be engaging in discretionary travel, and that all travel should be postponed until we get a better handle on getting this virus under control, and accelerating our vaccination strategies.”

Despite all the warnings and increases in cases and deaths, the State Department is not considering issuing a global Level 4: Do Not Travel advisory and instead will issue advisories on a country by country basis. The department issued a worldwide warning against international travel back in March, but lifted it in August. 

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Brownlee claimed that the State Department is “committed to helping US citizens overseas who find themselves in dire situations, but that assistance is likely to be limited. Our goal is to help people avoid those dire straits in the first place.  US embassies will be able to provide information about where to get medical care and Covid tests, but will not provide those tests,” Brownlee explained. 

Cetron went on to discuss how “the waiver that was initially contemplated to extend the deadline of implementation of these new requirements by a couple of weeks has been removed from this order, although we’ve specifically added a particular humanitarian emergency exemption to take into account.” 

“Additionally, when we looked at the surges of this virus that have happened, in particular in the months before Thanksgiving and through the holiday season — Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s — we were just seeing surge upon surge in the virus at a time when more of the variants were proving themselves increasingly contagious. And it was a combination of all these factors which led to the urgency of removing the two-week additional extension for implementation, and to move this into effect immediately at 12:01, midnight.”

The Biden Administration and current Covid-19 taskforce are holding daily meetings and operation calls with airlines to receive feedback on the early rollout and implementation of these new requirements, and conversations will continue to be ongoing as vaccines continue to be distributed and this pandemic progresses.

How The Covid-19 Vaccine Will Impact Future Travel Plans

With the Biden Administration officially inaugurated into the White House, however, many are expecting his new “lead with science” approach to help the US finally get on the right track with this pandemic.

Trump Attempts To Lift Covid-19 Travel Restrictions, Biden Moves To Block The Order 

President Donald Trump on Monday lifted Covid-19 travel restrictions for a majority of Europe, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Brazil, which would become effective on January 26th. President-elect Joe Biden immediately responded to this order by claiming that he would be blocking it immediately once inaugurated on January 20th. 

The CDC recently announced that the US should expect to hit 500,000 Covid-19 deaths by the middle of February, so Biden’s announcement that he would be blocking this order has a lot of Americans taking a big sigh of relief after a treacherous and deadly past year. 

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Trump claimed that he had been advised to lift the restrictions on incoming travelers to the US from 26 European countries in the Schengen Zone, the UK, and Brazil. Trump explained that he agreed with “the Secretary that this action is the best way to continue protecting Americans from Covid-19 while enabling travel to resume safely,” which immediately raised some red flags for Americans watching the news everyday and seeing case numbers rise exponentially. 

Biden’s incoming press secretary, Jen Psaki, is already hard at work ensuring the public that the Biden administration would not be lifting these restrictions. Psaki tweeted out to the public this week that “with the pandemic worsening, and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel.”

Psaki continued that based “on the advice of our medical team, the Administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26. In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

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Last month the CDC released new guidelines in terms of traveling in the US. All air passengers coming into America are required to have a negative Covid-19 test, and get tested within three days before their flight. Passengers must also provide written documentation of their lab results, or documentation that they recently recovered from Covid-19 and were therefore more likely to be immune. 

The potential lifting of the travel restrictions in Europe were thought to be a response to these new measures, however, the current administration is struggling greatly to get its country vaccinated; healthcare experts promised 20 million Americans would receive their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine by the end of 2020 and as of last week about 6 million Americans had received their initial dose. 

Biden’s incoming administration has a task force of healthcare experts and scientists who are all sworn to lead the pandemic response without any political bias and strictly based on the data provided by the nation’s leading healthcare workers.

Uber

Uber’s New Helicopter Service Is The First Step To A World Of “Air Taxi’s”

If you live in the New York City/Long Island area, then you surely understand the struggle that is getting to JFK. No matter what time you leave your house, there always seems to be a mess of traffic and congestion at every terminal. If you live in Manhattan you need to plan your airline commute hours in advance.

As of the past few years, ride-sharing apps and services have been the main source of transportation for New York City residents, especially when it comes to getting to their terminals on time. Uber, being one of the most popular, is widely praised on its Uber Pool feature that allows cheaper shared rides amongst different people travelling to the same location or locations within the same proximity as each other. However, the 9 year old company wanted to up their game even further, so they created Uber Copter, which is exactly as awesome as it sounds. 

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At the beginning of the summer Uber announced it’s helicopter transport system for its Uber Rewards Members exclusively, and now, as of October 3rd, it’s available to the general public, no membership required. As of right now, the only location that this specific ride-calling service can be used for is for getting to JFK airport, and you have to be in Manhattan to call for it. The total time spent getting to JFK is supposed to be no more than eight minutes in the air, and depending on how high demand the day is, it’ll cost between $200 – $225, which also includes regular Uber car service to get to the helipad locations. This major addition to the Uber personal transport system is one big step towards a greater goal of including tons of means of transportation that can be called using the app. Uber also intends on adding bikes and scooter to its app, and is in the preliminary phases of testing self-driving cars, however, after a fatal accident during the initial testing period, Uber is putting that idea on hold. 

Uber Copter may or may not save you time depending on how far you are from a helipad location. One user claimed it took them 70 minutes to get from their office in Midtown Manhattan to get to JFK because they had to take multiple car services to get to both helipads. Uber has said that travel times will begin to decrease as they run the service more and gain greater access to more heliports throughout the city. As of right now the helicopters are only leaving from a single helipad located near the Staten Island Ferry port. As they further develop Uber Copter, they will also continue to build Uber Air, which is the big picture business service Uber is attempting to provide. 

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“Uber saw the service as a way to work on Uber Air, the company’s upcoming electric air taxi service. We’ve built Uber Copter to provide us with insight and real-world experience as we continue to lay the foundation for Uber Air. We plan to launch Uber Air in Los Angeles, Dallas and Melbourne, Australia in 2023,” said a company spokesperson to Engadget Online Magazine

Uber has already partnered with multiple aircraft businesses in an attempt to work out all the specifics that would come from creating a totally new and innovative air taxi service. The company has also already debuted a prototype of the aircraft they would want to use that they built with the aircraft company Bell. 

“These aircraft use four vertical fans for lift and a separate propeller for forward thrust. They’ll be able to carry four passengers plus a pilot up to 60 miles on a single battery charge at speeds in excess of 150 MPH. These aircraft are likely to begin flight tests next year in the skies over Dallas, Los Angeles, and Melbourne,” according to Engadget

Uber Copter is just step one in a much larger plan for Uber to take to the sky, currently multiple companies are in a race to see who can get their transport services to take to the sky. Uber has accomplished the feat of being the first to offer helicopter personal call service transport, so maybe Uber Air is closer than we think.