Lawyers Travel's weekly client e-newsletter, the Informed Traveler, keeps readers updated on travel industry news and trends.
Following is a recap of December's Top 5 (most clicked by Lawyers Travel's clients) e-newsletter stories.
The White House has announced that it is tightening its testing and mask requirements in response to the COVID-19 Omicron variant. The Biden Administration will continue to require masking during international or other public travel – as well as in transportation hubs such as airports or indoor bus terminals – through March 18, 2022. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will extend its implementing orders to maintain these requirements through March 18. Fines will continue to be doubled from their initial levels for non-compliance with the masking requirements – with a minimum fine of $500 and fines of up to $3,000 for repeat offenders.
Additionally, in coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US has updated its pre-departure testing protocols by requiring all inbound international travelers two years and older, including US citizens and residents, to test within one day of departure globally, regardless of nationality or vaccination status.
As of December 6, all travelers flying into the US are required to provide:
- A negative COVID-19 antigen viral test taken within one calendar day before boarding, or alternatively, documentation showing recovery from COVID-19 within 90 days prior to the flight. Travelers must show the negative result or documentation to the airline before boarding their flight.
- A completed and signed disclosure and attestation form submitted to the airline before boarding.
For non-US citizens, the above testing requirements are in addition to full vaccination status, unless exemptions are met. There is currently no testing requirement after arrival; however, the CDC recommends all inbound international air travelers get another viral test three to five days after arrival, and says unvaccinated travelers should quarantine for seven days after travel.
To read the updated CDC order, click here. Click "Read More" for additional information from the CDC's website.
The US State Department has announced that it will continue to allow American citizens with expired passports to return from abroad through March 31, 2022, reports Travel Weekly. The temporary measure had been set to expire on December 31. As part of the announcement, the State Department cautioned that the measure does not apply to travel from the US to another country. In addition, American citizens who are abroad are not permitted to use an expired passport to travel to another country for any length of stay longer than an airport connection en route to the US or a US territory. Travelers should confirm their eligibility for traveling on an expired passport prior to finalizing travel arrangements, the State Department added.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has begun distributing free at-home COVID-19 test kits at Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), Miami International Airport (MIA), and Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP), reports USA Today. The rollout of these tests is part of an effort to help travelers comply with the CDC’s recommendation that all air travelers take a COVID-19 test three to five days after arriving in the US. According to CDC spokesperson Caitlin Shockey, following said recommendation is “critical” and will “help identify imported cases of COVID-19 and stop the spread of the virus.”
The CDC has also established active testing programs at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), New York area John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), and San Francisco International Airport (SFO). Free COVID test kits are expected to be offered in additional airports “soon.”
President Joe Biden has signed an Executive Order designed to modernize several major government services, including the ability to renew passports online and the implementation of technology to speed up airport wait times, reports Travel Pulse. US citizens currently looking to renew their passports must use in-person or mail-facilitated renewal processes, which can take between 8-11 weeks. The Executive Order, signed into law on Monday, will allow online renewals to be completed within 5-7 weeks. While the Executive Order is now law, a timetable for when the digital passport renewal will go live was not revealed. Additionally, the Secretary of Homeland Security was tasked with testing innovative technologies at airport security checkpoints to reduce traveler wait times. Homeland Security will provide new opportunities for travelers to connect with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), including online chat, improved communication during screenings, and additional mechanisms to provide feedback.
American Airlines and JetBlue have announced that they will add new destinations and increase frequencies on existing routes in New York and Boston in 2022. Nine new routes are schedule to go on sale this week across both airlines in New York and Boston. At New York's John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK), the carriers will offer up to 300 daily departures, including JetBlue's new JFK-Vancouver service, and added frequencies to destinations including Atlanta, GA; Detroit, MI; Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN; and Raleigh-Durham, NC. At New York's LaGuardia Airport (LGA), the carriers will offer nearly 200 daily departures, including JetBlue's new Portland, ME, service. The airline is also adding frequencies on destinations including Boston, MA; Charleston, SC; Jacksonville, FL; Nashville, TN; New Orleans, LA; Orlando, FL; Tampa, FL; and Savannah, GA. American has added new routes to Houston, TX; Kansas City, MO; Oklahoma City, OK; and Omaha, NE. The carriers also announced six new US domestic routes from Boston and two new options to Canada, enabling them to serve 46 of the top 50 US domestic mainland markets from the city, according to the airlines.