Q&A WITH ANGELIQUE PLATAS,
In our July/August issue, we discussed the reality of 2020 and adapting travel plans, which inspired the questions: What’s next? Are you shifting gears and hitting the road or braving the airline changes? If so, where to? A few readers wrote in with responses:
Our family took our first flight in months to our vacation home in South Carolina, where we could easily self-quarantine and work remotely during an extended stay. Philadelphia International Airport seemed clean and was easy to get through — no long lines or backed-up TSA PreCheck. We wore disposable masks in the airport, changed them regularly and doubled up on the flight with cloth masks just to be safe. We also sanitized our hands, seats and luggage. So far, so good!
JENN NEWMAN, VIA EMAIL
We will not be flying for a while but definitely taking some weekend road trips. My wife and I have been staying local for now but have some near-future plans to rent a luxe RV and explore.
WILSON REILLY, VIA EMAIL
My girlfriend and I have an extended RV, purchased last year. We have national parks mapped out in Wyoming, Montana, Utah and Colorado for the fall.
CALVIN VALDORA, VIA EMAIL
In our March 3 issue of eFlyer USA we covered the petition hosted by consumerreports.org asking American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines to stop charging fees to seat families together. This inspired a few readers to write in with thoughts:
I strongly oppose charging for family seating. I do not want to be responsible for overseeing someone’s child on a flight. This is the parents’ responsibility, and they should not be charged extra to perform it. Separation can also be a terrifying experience for a child on a flight.
WILLIAM HARNED, VIA EMAIL
Except for emergencies (maybe one or two annually) families should be able to find seats together by early booking. Other passengers should not have to take up the slack because parents didn’t plan ahead.
BROOKE HALL, VIA EMAIL
ADDITIONAL SANITATION STANDARDS AT HOTELS
In our April 29 issue of eFlyer USA we discussed hotels, including Marriott, rolling out new cleanliness standards and health policies for guests and staff. We asked our readers: Will a hotel’s cleanliness policy play a part in your future travel decisions? How important are these standards to you? What other cleanliness initiatives would you like to see implemented?
Thanks for asking this question! I’d like to see staff wait 72 hours before entering a room that’s been vacated (for their safety), then entering to clean the room, then waiting another 72 hours before letting a patron into that room. No, it’s not ideal for the hotel business. But my guess is there will be enough empty rooms in the first months after re-opening that this could be easily done, and it would be reassuring to me as a guest to know no one has entered my room for 72 hours, and no one else will enter it (no daily cleaning) while I am staying there. This just might get me to stay in a hotel again.
FRANCESCA KELLY, VIA EMAIL
LETTER TO THE PUBLISHER
After publisher and CEO Francis X. Gallagher sent several travel updates and informative newsletters and before most recently discussing COVID travel experiences in his July/August Publisher’s Letter, an avid reader wrote in with similar thoughts and experiences:
Our anticipated trip on the Queen Mary 2 and onward to Mykonos has been put off until next year. Cunard canceled the voyage, but we’re going to rebook for next June, taking advantage of the cruise line’s 125 percent offer. Cunard has been exceptional communicating with customers and generous in terms of cancellation and refunds. I’ve been very impressed by its transparency.
Fortunately, we were able to cancel all our hotel and ferry reservations. The Greek government ruled passengers can rebook ferry trips for up to 18 months and, if not used, get a full refund. Hyatt and all our Greek hotels readily refunded deposits or canceled without penalty. And Delta Air Lines replaced our SkyMiles with- out penalty as well — given I have no elite status on Delta, that was unexpected!
We’re now left with our U.K. and EU flights to deal with. The European Union requires refunds, but you need to ask. British Airways provides a voucher if we cancel or a full refund if it cancels. But now travelers can rebook through April 30, 2022.
Aegean Air is another story. We had until last Friday to change our reservation without penalty but needed to rebook for flights before March 2021. Otherwise, regular penalties apply. As we had a flexible ticket, additional available options enable us to declare (up to four hours prior to departure) an “open” ticket which would be valid for 18 months with only a €20 per-person penalty.
As we have travel insurance with “cancel for any reason,” this should cover this circumstance, at albeit 75 percent. iTravelInsured is allowing a one-time date change to existing policies up to one year due to coronavirus.
We plan to rebook this entire itinerary next year with the hope the pandemic has abated and travel becomes available, enjoyable and safe. Our October trip to Tuscany/Paris/Amsterdam may be in jeopardy. Time will tell.
So, lessons learned: Book your cruise through a trusted and experienced travel agent (I booked through Q Cruise & Travel, a Cunard specialist). Have a good travel insurance policy with a trusted brand (we booked iTravelnsured/Starr through Squaremouth). Choose flexible fares when the price differential is moderate; though more expensive, they provide more options if scheduling goes awry. Know your travelers’ rights; while the two EU airlines provided options for cancellation/reimbursement/rebooking, knowing the EU requirements gave us ammunition in the event we were unable to achieve our rebook- ing goals.
JONATHAN M. FUCHS, VIA EMAIL
Deep Dive Dubai, home of the deepest swimming pool for diving in the world, opened in Dubai, in the Nad Al Sheba neighborhood. Guinness World Records verified the pool as the world’s deepest swimming pool for diving at a depth of 60.02 meters, or almost 197 feet, holding 14 million liters of water, equivalent to six Olympic-sized swimming pools.
As more travelers return to the skies, American is here every step of the way to ensure an elevated and seamless journey. Experience flying freedom with AirPass, American’s all-inclusive, pre-paid travel membership program.
Family gatherings are extra special this year and we chose to celebrate a milestone birthday in New Orleans. The JW Marriott New Orleans, across the street from the historic French Quarter, is ideally situated for exploring the city. Streetcars roll in front of the property and are especially fun for first-time visitors. Within a ¾-mile radius, we could walk to the National WWII Museum, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Sazerac House, Harrah’s Casino, the Shops of Canal Place and numerous restaurants.
For the third year in a row, Regent Seven Seas Cruises broke the company’s world cruise opening day booking record. The 2024 World Cruise sold out around 11 a.m. on July 14, after going on sale that morning at 8:30 a.m. Fares started at $73,499 per guest for a deluxe veranda suite, up to $199,999 per guest for a master suite.
The biggest names in the Middle East sporting community will gather for the Sports Industry Awards as the event returns for its eighth edition. SPIA recognizes the achievements of individuals, organizations, facilities and campaigns that contributed to the development of sport in the region.
Aqua-Aston Hospitality, with hotels in Hawai’i, Florida and Costa Rica, introduced an intelligent text messaging platform at its hotels and resorts, streamlining real-time communication with guests. Since the mobile technology has been implemented, the platform has been successfully used to answer guest questions, manage check-in, deliver amenities, quickly communicate updates on services, send alerts and enable contact-less check-out.
As the vaccine rolls out and travel picks up, it’s time to start dreaming of your next trip. Here’s some destination inspiration for you. Take a visual journey through Okinawa with us.
You probably didn’t know you needed to visit the Dominican Republic until you learned about the new, beautiful, modern, all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana.
After more than a year of staying home and social distancing, Americans are ready to experience live entertainment again. According to Allianz Partners USA’s Vacation Confidence Index survey, 55 percent of Americans plan on attending at least one ticketed event before the end of 2021, with 16 percent planning to attend three or more events.