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
As more travelers hit the road again, they tend to travel shorter distances. That includes LGBTQ+ globetrotters, who find a variety of great vacation options without leaving the continent. These five top destinations for LGBTQ+ travelers in North America offer lots of reasons to reignite wanderlust.
Finding a beachfront Punta Cana all-inclusive resort for all ages can be daunting when you want to take home great memories with loved ones but also experience a sophisticated escape. Now, you can have both thanks to a new resort: Finest Punta Cana.
There’s almost nothing like the magic of New York City during the holidays — and there’s almost nothing more quintessentially New York than the Empire State Building. Check both off your list at once this year in the Big Apple.
As our four-passenger plane prepared to land on a gravely shoreline in Lake Clark National Park, one of the most remote national parks in the United States, accessible only by plane or boat, my excitement grew. Though the flight was scenic and provided a terrific perspective of the vast expanse of this part of Southcentral Alaska, my fellow passengers and I had one thing on our mind — bears!
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, small businesses create two-thirds of net new jobs and account for nearly 48 percent of the U.S. private sector workforce. And small- and medium-sized businesses outpace all other sectors as one of the fastest-growing in the United States. InterContinental® Hotels Group (IHG) goes above and beyond to create opportunities for this segment with its IHG® Business Edge program, voted Best Small- to Mid-Sized Business Program in Global Traveler’s 2019 GT Tested Reader Survey awards.
Through Dec. 1, Seabourn Cruise Line’s Black Friday Sale features value-added benefits on select voyages, summer 2021 through winter/spring 2022 on every ship in the fleet. Booking the special offer includes $1,000 shipboard credit per suite for Ocean View and Veranda Suites; $2,000 shipboard credit per suite for Penthouse and Premium Suites; Veranda for Ocean View suite upgrade; three category Veranda Suite upgrade; and reduced deposits of $250 per guest.
IHG® Business Edge provides small- to midsized enterprises with benefits and confidence to navigate the evolving business travel environment.
Windstar Cruises boasts an Air + Hotel offer from Los Angeles International Airport, including a round-trip flight from LAX, pre-cruise accommodations and a post-cruise day room. The offer also includes ground transfers in Tahiti and a seven-, 10- or 11-night cruise in Tahiti. On cruise vacations including air and hotel booked through the end of this year, guests receive the promise of a free beverage package, with unlimited select spirits, wine, beer, cocktails and minibar items.