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November 19, 2021

8 Things to Know for Your First Post-Pandemic Trip

As the industry recovers and a new set of business and leisure travelers wade back into the world of airports and hotels each day, many are now discovering a new framework for travel and safety—and all of the questions that come in stride. No longer can one show up to the airport 45 minutes prior to a flight and take a leisurely gander straight through security; now, a new system demands paperwork and rules. Add family members and traveling companions like kids to the mix, and that time only increases.

Where does a traveler setting out for that initial journey start? Let’s take a look at 8 important factors to consider when jumping back into business or leisure travel.

Are masks mandatory?

Travelers are now required to wear a mask during their entire journey, from the time they enter the airport on through exiting at their destination. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) explains that you may need to adjust or remove your mask momentarily for the purpose of identification or if the mask triggers security equipment at the airport. While on the plane, mask wearing is no longer simply an airline policy—it’s a federal law.

How can travelers minimize contact with others?

There are a few simple things travelers can do to stay physically distanced while at the airport and to make the trip less stressful overall. The first is to check in online and download any boarding passes directly onto their smartphones. It’s also possible to capture and manage vaccination and testing information directly in a smartphone via tools like the TripActions Mobile App.

After that, a second consideration could be to pack light with the intention of only bringing carry-on luggage. These practices ensure travelers will skip the check-in process altogether, allowing them to reduce human contact and to avoid long lines.

How has airport security changed?

Across the country, the TSA is implementing touchless, self-service technologies in their security lines. Rather than handing over driver’s licenses, passports, or boarding passes, travelers may be asked to insert their IDs into digital readers or to have their photographs taken for facial recognition. Bag checks and pat-downs are still happening; to reduce the likelihood of contamination, TSA officers are instructed to change their gloves after each check.

Will food and drink be available?

Many airport shops and restaurants were shuttered during the pandemic, and at some airports, it can still be a challenge to get a full meal. Meanwhile, airlines have largely scaled back their in-flight services, including food and drink offerings. The best bet is to be prepared and bring snacks along with an empty, reusable water bottle that can be filled at the airport. Place any snacks in a clear plastic bag to be scanned by the TSA at security checkpoints. Otherwise, check with the airline or airport about their food and drink offerings before you depart.

Can I bring hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes?

The TSA allows travelers to bring one liquid hand sanitizer container (up to 12 ounces per passenger) in their carry-on luggage. Travelers may also bring sanitizing wipes of any size or quantity through security checkpoints. And we suggest it.

What about physical distancing in-flight?

Early on in the pandemic, there were stories of passengers flying on near-empty planes, and some airlines were leaving middle seats empty to give passengers space to spread out. Those days are now over—at this point, no major airline is blocking seats. Travelers should assume that their flight will be booked to capacity.

What if there is a sick passenger on a flight?

The risk of getting a contagious disease on an airplane is low. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the air in an airplane cabin is fully renewed every 2-3 minutes, which is more frequent than most indoor locations. If a person on your flight is later diagnosed with COVID-19, the CDC will work with local and state health departments and international public health agencies to contact exposed passengers and crew. This is why it is important for you to give the airline your current contact information when booking your ticket.

Do travelers need to be vaccinated?

This is where things get complicated. There is not an overarching requirement to get vaccinated or test negative for COVID-19. It all depends upon where you’re headed. While most—but not all—U.S. states have dropped the travel restrictions for domestic flights, providing proof of full vaccination has become commonplace for international entry.

In today’s uncertain world, this aspect is constantly in flux. Travelers must be sure to check the COVID-19 situation at their destination to ensure compliance with vaccination requirements, as well as vaccination and testing requirements. With so many moving pieces, it can be difficult to keep track. TripActions Lemonade provides real-time insights into how COVID-19 is affecting global travel. Through the app, you can access destination restriction information, virus reproduction rates, local government regulations and more. Should any issues arise during your trip, a professional travel agent is available to assist you 24/7/365. Learn more about TripActions Lemonade.

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