From no more booking fees for Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian Airlines and Brussels Airlines flights to a new pilot programme of testing between London and New York announced by The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC); the measures being implemented by airlines to help build traveller confidence mean that international business travel is safely back on the menu.
Scroll down to check out these and other developments…
LAST UPDATED: 22 September 2020
Lufthansa introduces free of charge rebooking fares
Lufthansa, SWISS, Austrian Airlines and Brussels Airlines are generally changing their ticket fare structure until the end of December. With immediate effect, all fares can be rebooked several times free of charge – including, for example, the lowest light fare without checked baggage.
In response to the pandemic, Lufthansa Group Airlines had already made a one-off free of charge rebooking possible in spring. The new regulation applies worldwide to all new bookings on short, medium and long-haul routes. The Lufthansa Group airlines are thus meeting customers’ needs for flexible travel arrangements to an even greater extent.
However, customers may incur additional costs if, for example, the original booking class is no longer available when rebooking to a different date or destination. Any difference will be compensated for by means of additional payment.
Lufthansa Group airlines hope that by making the fare conditions more flexible, they can provide customers the peace of mind to plan their upcoming trips even in these times.
World Travel and Tourism Council to Pilot London to New York Programme
Three months after the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) launched its global safety and hygiene stamp known as ‘Safe Travels’ to help highlight destinations and suppliers putting traveller health and safety first during the COVID-19 they have announced that London to New York will be getting a pilot programme.
The programme was initially launched to inspire and build traveller confidence while speeding up the industry’s recovery in the wake of COVID-19. To further help this initiative the WTTC are planning on airport testing on the corridor between London and New York which could herald the return of international travel.
The pilot scheme, will involve initial airport-based testing, followed by a second test just days later, for travel between the financial hubs of London and New York, with the aim of re-starting business travel. Health officials claim if successful the testing could identify as much as 80% of passengers with the virus.
Countries currently on the list include: Aruba, Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Croatia, Ecuador, Egypt, Grenada, Indonesia, Jamaica, Jordan, Mauritius, Mexico, Panama, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Ukraine.
Flight to Nowhere
Qantas Airways have recently sold a flight that flies to nowhere. The seven hour journey takes off in Sydney and returns to Sydney. The flight took 10 minutes to sell out, with Qantas identifying that even though the COVID-19 pandemic has put travel restrictions in place there is still an opportunity for those to cater for travellers seeking to getting in an airplane.
Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce, said that this flight was ‘probably the fastest selling flight in Qantas history’ and the seven-hour scenic flight will perform a giant loop taking in Queensland and the Gold Coast, New South Wales and the country’s remote outback heartlands. Fliers should be able to spot famous Aussie attractions including Sydney Harbour and the Great Barrier Reef. The jet will do a low flyover over certain landmarks, including Uluru and Bondi Beach. Travellers have also been promised special on broad entertainment too including a surprise celebrity host.
But Qantas aren’t the only airline to have taken to the idea, with Taiwan’s EVA, Singapore Airlines and Japan’s ANA have all either run flights to nowhere or are about to.
Flights restarted between London City and Belfast City
Flights between London City and Belfast City airports resumed on Monday 7th September for the first time since airline Flybe collapsed in March. Five return flights per week will be operated by BA CityFlyer.
London City-Belfast City was one of a number of key regional routes suspended when Flybe went bust.
London City was closed for nearly three months from 25 March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Etihad Offers Free COVID insurance for passengers up to €150,000
Etihad have announced that they will be joining the likes of Emirates and Virgin Atlantic airlines in offering free COVID-19 wellness insurance cover.
Guests who are diagnosed with COVID-19 during their trip won’t have to worry about medical expenses or quarantine costs when they fly with Etihad.
Duncan Bureau, Senior Vice President Sales and Distribution, Etihad Airways, said: “The safety, health, and wellbeing of our guests and employees is our top priority, during and beyond the flight. The introduction of global COVID-19 insurance, in partnership with AXA, builds on stringent measures already in place as part of our Etihad Wellness programme, championed by our Wellness Ambassadors.
“This additional cover will not only instil confidence to travel but also reassure our guests that we are doing all we can to keep them safe and protected. As more countries start opening their borders, we are making it as easy as possible for our guests to plan their next trip, hassle free.”
The cover will insure anyone travelling between now and 31 December 2020 regardless of date of booking. Guests with existing bookings don’t need to do anything as they are automatically enrolled into the programme and the insurance is valid worldwide for 31 days from the first day of travel.
To help you navigate the changes of business travel, we’ve created the brand-new Traveller Toolkit. This invaluable online resource is packed full of easy-to-use guides and checklists for every stage of every journey. We detail exactly what you need to know and do before, during and after your trip.
You’ll also find innovative and interactive virtual trips, which walk you through each step of being at the airport, on the train and in the hotel. You can even check the travel restrictions and health status of your destination with our comprehensive COVID-19 Country Tracker, updated five times daily to ensure you have the very latest information to help keep you and your travellers safe.
Travel is changing. With common sense and a good TMC behind you, travellers can have the confidence to once again take to the skies. It’ll soon be back business as (un)usual.