At Lawyers Travel, we remain committed to providing excellent service to our valued clients throughout the COVID-19 global pandemic. Click the link below to view our travel resources guide which includes traveler health & safety information, interactive risk maps, client communications, travel management best practices, webinar recordings and more regarding COVID-19.
Lawyers Travel'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 Lawyers Travel's clients) e-newsletter stories.
As COVID-19 vaccinations increase and travelers begin to feel more confident about flying again, industry groups and governments are developing measures to safely bring back travel to pre-pandemic levels. One solution to ensure safety and compliance for travel is the use of a digital vaccine passport. A digital vaccine passport is digital documentation proving that travelers have met proper COVID-19 requirements before they travel. Digital vaccine passports may include verification that a traveler has recovered from COVID-19, tested negative or is vaccinated, and would streamline the process for travelers to provide such proof should governments require documentation. The passports would be used as standardized validation at airports, country borders and other access points where rules and restrictions are in place.
While a digital vaccine passport could be essential to restarting the travel industry, there are several challenges to overcome. At the moment, there are a handful of different passport technologies currently in development. These versions are being worked on by airlines, industry groups, nonprofits and technology companies. While all of these passports aim to provide some sort of verification for travelers, no unified standards have yet been set in place. Collaboration between all parties working on digital documentation will be key to the success of a digital vaccine passport. Several governments have also been involved in efforts to provide guidance for digital vaccine passports. President Biden issued an executive order directing agencies to assess the feasibility of linking COVID-19 vaccinations to vaccine cards, also known as "international certificates of vaccination or prophylaxis," and producing a digital version. Meanwhile, the European Union (EU) recently proposed a "Digital Green Certificate to facilitate the safe free movement of citizens within the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic," according to US News & World Report.
Additionally, concerns about security and equity will need to be addressed. It is critical that personal information is safe, secure, reliable and accessible. At the same time, many travelers around the world may not have easy access to digital passports. Should a digital vaccine passport be put into place for international travel, it would put countries that have less access to vaccines at a disadvantage. There will need to be standardization and availability of additional forms of verification when a digital passport might not be accessible.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made travel more complex, but a digital vaccine passport could be a key resource for businesses and individual travelers to safely return to travel. Click "Read More" below for more information about digital vaccine passports published by US News & World Report.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that domestic travelers to New York State who have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 will no longer be required to quarantine or "test out" of quarantine upon arrival in the 90 days following their full vaccination. Beyond the 90 days, travelers would still have to quarantine and test out. This is a relaxation to the New York State COVID-19 Travel Advisory which required travelers from noncontiguous states and territories to quarantine for ten days upon arrival, or obtain two negative tests within the time period provided in the travel advisory. Governor Cuomo also stated that international travelers arriving in New York must continue to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) travel and quarantine guidance, whether or not they are vaccinated. Currently, the CDC requires that all international travelers produce a negative COVID-19 test within three days prior to departure, and recommends that all travelers quarantine for at least ten days upon arrival in the United States, or seven days if they test negative 3-5 days after arrival. New York State requires international travelers from CDC Level 2 or higher countries quarantine for ten days or produce two negative tests.
Delta Air Lines has announced that it is making more seats available beginning May 1, as the carrier plans on lifting its block on the purchase of middle seats. “During the past year, we transformed our service to ensure [travelers'] health, safety, convenience and comfort during their travels. Now, with vaccinations becoming more widespread and confidence in travel rising, we’re ready to help customers reclaim their lives,” said Delta CEO Ed Bastian. “While Delta’s decision to block middle seats has given many customers a reason to choose Delta over the past year, the signature hospitality of our employees and the experiences they deliver to customers every day have also deepened their trust in our airline... The relationships we’ve built, together with the knowledge that nearly 65 percent of those who flew Delta in 2019 anticipate having at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by May 1, are what’s giving us the assurance to offer customers the ability to choose any seat on our aircraft, while also introducing new services, products and rewards to support the journey.”
Additionally, Delta is extending the validity of all tickets expiring in 2021 and all tickets purchased in 2021 to expire December 31, 2022. The carrier is also extending its existing change fee waiver for all Basic Economy tickets purchased through April 30, 2021, as well as all tickets that originate outside of North America. Delta has already made changes to permanently remove change fees for premium and Main Cabin tickets for travel originating in North America.
Leading airline and business groups are asking the Biden administration to develop temporary credentials that would let travelers show they have been tested and vaccinated for COVID-19, a step that the airline industry believes will help revive travel, reports Travel Weekly. Various groups and countries are working on developing so-called vaccine passports aimed at allowing more travel. But airlines fear that a smattering of regional credentials will cause confusion and none will be widely accepted. "It is crucial to establish uniform guidance" and "the US must be a leader in this development," more than two dozen groups said in a letter Monday to White House coronavirus-response coordinator Jeff Zients. However, the groups said that vaccination should not be a requirement for domestic or international travel. The World Health Organization and the United Nations' aviation arm are working on the type of information to include in a credential. The airline industry groups are particularly interested in having the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) take a leading role, believing that would increase certainty that information in the credentials is legitimate.
The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has built a mobile app to serve as a single point of entry for travelers to access CBP mobile apps and services, reports Travel Weekly. By asking users questions, the app, called the CBP One Mobile App, guides travelers to appropriate services, such as reporting their arrival, completing documents or making appointments, based on their specific needs. The app also allows travelers to streamline their travel into the US by providing information before or upon arrival or departure. Rollout has begun for app features including allowing travelers to apply for an I-94, view an existing I-94 or their previous travel history for the past five years and check land border wait times from their mobile devices. Additional features planned for future releases include pleasure boat reporting, the ability to apply for and update a cruising license, view the status of a Trusted Traveler Program application and schedule CBP services for commercial vessel arrivals and non-perishable cargo exams. The CBP One Mobile App is available in the Apple App Store and Google Play.