From Emirates becoming the first airline to trial IATA Travel Pass to the UK introducing ‘Hotel Quarantine’; we cover the latest travel industry updates which look to build traveller confidence while restricting the spread of the Coronavirus.
Scroll down to check out these and other developments…
> LAST UPDATED: 3rd February 2020
Emirates becomes one of the first airlines in the world to trial IATA Travel Pass
Emirates has partnered with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to become one of the first airlines in the world to trial IATA Travel Pass. Travel Pass is a mobile app to help passengers easily and securely manage their travel in line with any government requirements for COVID-19 testing or vaccine information.
IATA Travel Pass enables Emirates passengers to create a ‘digital passport’ to verify their pre-travel test or vaccination meets the requirements of the destination. They will also be able to share the test and vaccination certificates with authorities and airlines to facilitate travel. The new app will also enable travellers to manage all travel documentation digitally and seamlessly throughout the travel experience.
Prior to a full roll out, Emirates will implement phase 1 in Dubai for the validation of COVID-19 PCR tests before departure. In this initial phase, expected to begin in April, Emirates customers travelling from Dubai will be able to share their COVID-19 test status directly with the airline even before reaching the airport through the app, which will then auto-populate the details on the check-in system.
British Airways becomes the first UK airline to trial the use of mobile travel health passport VeriFLY.
British Airways have announced that they have begun trialling a new travel health app, VeriFLY, with travellers who are eligible to travel between London and the US from 04 February. British Airways will be the first UK airline to use VeriFLY and it is designed to offer peace of mind before travel.
The App checks travellers meet the entry requirements of their destination by providing digital health document verification and confirming eligibility. It follows the announcement that British Airway’s AJB partner, American Airlines, recently made regarding VeriFLY. American Airlines now allow all travellers travelling to the US from international destinations to use the app.
The Use of the VeriFLY app will be optional and travellers will also continue to be able to evidence they meet the US entry requirements at check-in. VeriFLY can be downloaded to a travellers mobile device with ease from the iOS App Store or Google Play Store.
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.
UK travellers may face hotel quarantine upon arrival
During much of the Coronavirus pandemic the UK has had very few travel restrictions but this could be about to change. Since the 18th January 2020 the UK government has requested that all arrivals show that a negative test for Coronavirus has been taken within three days of departure or longer if an en route stop is involved.
The Government is now set to impose mandatory hotel quarantine for arrivals from from certain ‘high risk’ countries. The rule will apply to areas associated with new coronavirus variants with these nations including South America, Portugal and many countries in Southern Africa.
There are currently 33 countries on the government’s ‘red list’, with the United Arab Emirates, Burundi and Rwanda are the latest to be added.
Plans have been announced to make anyone travelling to England from a red-list country quarantine in a hotel. Arrivals will be met at the airport or point of entry and taken to the hotel so that self-isolation can be enforced “without exception”. The government will set out further details of the policy next week. Hotel-style quarantine already forms part of the entry requirement in several other countries, including Australia.
British and Irish nationals, long-term visa holders and residents can enter from these countries, but they must quarantine for 10 days.
United Airlines consider mandatory vaccinations for 80,000-strong workforce
United Airlines have recently announced that the airline will be considering mandatory vaccination of its entire workforce.
United CEO, Scott Kirby, has spoken about the decision, saying that the airline may make vaccines a requirement for its almost 88,000 employees. In a recent statement to employees (delivered virtually), Kirby said:
“I know the vaccines are safe. I know that it’s the way to ensure the safety of our employees, ensure the safety of our customers, as we fly around the world. So, if others go along and are willing to start to mandate vaccines, you should probably expect United to be amongst the first wave of companies that do it.”
The announcement by United came shortly after Singapore Airlines announced its goal to become the world’s first airline to have a fully vaccinated workforce (on a fully voluntary basis). A United spokesperson did clarify that the vaccination was not yet mandatory and there was no policy in place to make them so. They added that there are ‘logistical challenges that we need to work through before we can make it mandatory’.
Other travel industry bodies and airline CEO’s have also discussed similar policies. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce famously declared that vaccinations will be required for passengers to be allowed to board any Qantas flights. The announcement had significant implications, as Qantas are Australia’s national carrier, but the Australian government has yet to officially support a mandatory vaccination policy.
JetBlue airline launches transatlantic flights with private suites at ‘economy prices’
American Airline, JetBlue, are launching flights to London in their Mint Suite™ at what they call ‘economy prices’. The private suites will be on the first transatlantic flights for the affordable airline, which will connect the US and the UK.
Although the prices for the suites are yet to be revealed JetBlue’s ambitious plans have come during a pandemic and are already without their fair share of controversy. It has been revealed that the airline struggled to get slots at Heathrow despite most airlines not currently using theirs. Although JetBlue have announced that they have successfully secured 14 weekly slots at Gatwick and 28 weekly slots at Stansted.
The aircraft will feature 24 individual Mint Suite™ with each of them offering direct aisle access, a sliding door for privacy, a fully lie-flat seat built with Tuft & Needle’s T&N Adaptive® Foam cushions, a memory foam pillow and a customisable blanket. The suites also feature a large 17” TV, plenty of in-suite power and wireless charging, and customisable lighting with dedicated storage for shoes, a laptop and more, stowing and organizing your stuff is in the bag.
JetBlue also claim that the spacious front-row Mint Studio features all the bells and whistles of their new Mint Suite™, plus the largest bed and TV (22″) on a U.S. airline, a mirrored vanity, even more storage, and a guest seat and table to work, lounge and entertain.
London will become the first European destination served by the US airline, starting later this year and this new low cost option is set to compete with Virgin and British Airways who also connect the UK and the US. While JetBlue is yet to reveal the full cost, this may be great news for budget travellers wanting a bit of luxury.
Melia Hotels announce free COVID-19 tests and health insurance
The Meliá Hotels International chain have announced that they will be offering free, on-site antigen testing for COVID-19 to all their guests staying at its ten properties across Mexico and the Dominican Republic. Any guests that are required to provide negative COVID-19 test results to their home country can book in their tests during the hotel check-in process. All tests will be taken within 72 hours prior to departure to ensure results arrive back in time, and is only available to guests staying for a minimum of three nights or more.
If the guests’ country requires a PCR test, rather than an antigen, that can also be arranged through hotel reception. Staff will liaise with local testing sites to ensure that tests can all be undertaken and results returned within the required time frame. The participating hotels include: Paradisus Playa Del Carmen, Paradisus Cancun, Paradisus Los Cabos, ME Cabo, Meliá Cozumel, Meliá Puerto Vallarta The Grand Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real, Paradisus Palma Real, Meliá Caribe Beach Resort and Meliá Punta Cana Beach Resort.
Andre Gerondeau, Chief Operating Officer of Meliá Hotels International, said the decision aims to ensure guests health and safety, as well as peace of mind.
“At Meliá, we continue to adapt to the new needs of the tourism industry. Guest health and safety remains our top priority and we want to ensure we make this an easy and seamless process for our guests, offering them peace of mind and confidence in their Meliá vacation experience.”
Meliá Hotels International have even gone one step further and announced they will also be providing guests with a free insurance policy. The policy includes, among all the usual stuff, full assistance in the event of possible COVID-19 cases that may occur during the trip.In such cases, the ‘Travel Safe with Meliá Insurance’ policy will include a free extension of the guests stay at the hotel (up to 15 days), as well as displacement and living expenses for any travel companions who may need to also await a negative test result, or undergo mandatory quarantine with their affected travel companion. It will also include assistance for guests in returning home.
The hotel chain have introduced a strict new health and safety program, aptly named the ‘Stay Safe with Meliá’ program. In partnership with Bureau Veritas, who are company leaders in inspections, testing and certifications, Meliá Hotels International have implemented a system to ensure ‘the highest standards in the management of preventative measures to combat COVID-19 in its hotels’.
Meliá properties across the world have modified their facilities and redesigned processes to ensure direct interaction is reduced where possible, and hygiene standards are maintained. Measures to ensure social distancing have also been put in place, particularly at restaurants, pools and entertainment activities.
Other safety measures include temperature checks and special PPE amenities kits complete with masks, sanitiser and gloves.
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.