CDC removes pandemic-era travel warnings for cruises

Placeholder while article actions load

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dropped cruise voyages from its list of coronavirus travel health notices Wednesday, the latest barrier to fall for an industry seeking a semblance of pre-pandemic norms. Cruise lines still require passengers to be vaccinated and test negative before boarding.

The CDC issues its notices “to alert travelers and other audiences to health threats around the world,” ranking destinations between Levels 1 and 4 based on the number and trajectory of new cases. It had included notices for cruise ships since March 2020, when cruise lines stopped sailing from U.S. waters for more than a year.

“CDC’s decision to remove the travel health notice for cruise travel was based on the current state of the pandemic and overall decreases in COVID-19 cases onboard cruise ships over the past several weeks,” CDC spokesman David Daigle said in an email.

The Cruise Lines International Association said earlier this year that it was “dismayed” that the CDC still published any kind of travel health notice for cruise ships. The association cheered the CDC decision Wednesday, saying it “recognizes the effective public health measures in place on cruise ships and begins to level the playing field, between cruise and similarly situated venues on land, for the first time since March 2020.”

CDC lowers coronavirus warnings for cruise ships and popular Caribbean islands

Roger Frizzell, a spokesman for industry giant Carnival Corp., called the move an “important step forward.” Newcomer Virgin Voyages said in a statement that the CDC’s removal of the notice “demonstrates the transition back into pre-pandemic operations” for the industry.

“While we feel this was a long time coming, we recognize this move as a demonstration of all of the hard work this industry has done to ensure that we’re offering the safest way to travel,” Virgin Voyages chief executive Tom McAlpin said in the statement. “It’s refreshing to see them meet us where we’re at, and clearly where our consumers are at considering the major uptick in demand we’ve seen.”

During the omicron surge in December, the public health agency warned that even vaccinated people should avoid cruises because the risk of catching the coronavirus was very high. As the wave subsided, the CDC eased its language, finally declaring earlier this month that the covid-19 risk was “moderate” and recommending that people be up to date with coronavirus vaccines before taking a cruise.

The CDC still urges travelers to be up to date with coronavirus vaccinations before taking a cruise, and it recommends that those who are immunocompromised or at increased risk of severe illness from the virus talk to their doctor about taking additional precautions.

“The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads easily between people in close quarters on board ships,” the agency’s website says. “If the virus is spreading on board a cruise ship, passengers and crew are at risk for infection, even if they are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines.”

Bare rooms, rotten fruit and boredom: Quarantine life on infected cruises

Through a voluntary program, the CDC displays the vaccination status and color status — indicating whether there are reported coronavirus cases on board — of participating cruise ships. Out of 107 ships sailing in U.S. waters, all but one are participating in the program.

Wednesday’s tally shows that while the number of cases has decreased significantly, cruise ships are still not coronavirus-free. As of Tuesday, 34 ships had reported enough coronavirus cases to meet the threshold for a CDC investigation; another 35 had reported cases, but the number was not high enough to merit an investigation.

Daigle said the agency would continue to evaluate its cruise program and the need for a travel health notice for cruises as the pandemic evolves.

“While cruising will always pose some risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers will make their own risk assessment when choosing to travel on an individual cruise ship, much like they do in all other travel settings,” he wrote in the email. “CDC recommends travelers check their cruise ship’s color status and vaccination status to make an informed decision before traveling on a cruise ship.”

Source link

5 charts that show how pandemic-era travel has changed

(Stacker) – In December 2020, when many would normally be traveling to make it home for the holidays, U.S. air travel was significantly down as we plunged into the first pandemic holiday season. Despite more than 1 million daily air travelers each day for three days over the weekend before Christmas—a record for the pandemic—overall, air travel in December 2020 was just 35% of 2019’s numbers. Vaccines were at the very beginning stages of distribution, and many people opted to invent new traditions to avoid the uncertainty of traveling during COVID-19.

In 2021, however—and despite significant surges in COVID-19 transmission thanks to the Omicron variant—the air travel industry is gearing up for a holiday rebound. Stacker analyzed how the pandemic affected air travel trends, and early signs of recovery. Data came from the Transportation Security AdministrationFederal Aviation Administration and Bureau of Transportation.

The number of air travelers during Thanksgiving this year reached about 91% of pre-pandemic numbers But while air travel seems poised to reach a pandemic high, the number of air travel employees has not fully recovered. Layoffs, early-retirement, and career changes due to the pandemic have left air travel industries short-staffed as they face a holiday travel crunch. The industry, already subject to weather-related delays, will deal with these labor shortages during what experts expect to be a busy holiday travel season

Unruly passenger reports have also increased sharply in 2021. Of the 5,664 reports this year, 72% were mask-related. While the rate of incidents has calmed down since the first half of the year, spikes in travel are likely to coincide with an increased number of incidents. 

It’s not yet clear how the Omicron variant will impact air travel’s recovery. The CDC has confirmed the Omicron variant now makes up the majority of cases in the U.S., and widespread infection in places like New York City have prompted some travelers to reconsider plans

Keep reading to see what caused major flight delays, how crowded planes are, the busiest airports, and more. 

(Credit: Emma Rubin, Stacker)

Passengers have largely returned to air travel

Many travelers cramming in last-minute trips home ahead of shutdowns in March 2020 were met with nearly empty flights, quiet airports, and short security lines. To respond to the sudden drop in demand, airlines canceled domestic flights; in subsequent months, the CDC and local governments urged people to avoid nonessential travel.

Even as some travelers returned to air travel in the second half of 2020, the total number of passengers remained under half of 2019 metrics, based on TSA security checkpoint data. The widespread deployment of vaccines beginning in early 2021 coincided with a steady increase in air travel passengers though and holiday travel is reaching close to pre-pandemic numbers. 

The resumption of air travel’s popularity has also meant less booking flexibility. Many airlines waived cancellation and change fees throughout 2020 in attempts to lure people back to air travel. Most of those policies have since ended.

(Credit: Emma Rubin, Stacker)

Airplanes are crowded again

In April 2020, the domestic load factor—the total distance traveled by passengers divided by the total distance traveled if seats were full—dropped to 13.1%. As the demand for air travel dipped, airlines quickly responded by canceling hundreds of flights to keep those still in operation somewhat full.

Domestic load factor rebounded to between 50-60% during the latter half of 2020, and in 2021, eagerness to travel and the widespread availability of vaccines have filled planes up once again. July 2021 reported the highest domestic load factor since the onset of the pandemic, at 87.9%. With an anticipated busy holiday season, air travelers can likely expect tight overhead bins and full middle seats.

(Credit: Emma Rubin, Stacker)

Airlines are struggling to keep up with the renewed demand

As people resumed flying in 2021, flight delays also increased. Between June and August of 2021, 25.71% of flights were delayed or canceled compared to 28.36% between March-May 2020. Flight delays in 2021 were largely related to staffing shortages, rather than a sudden drop in demand. Airlines, which furloughed and laid off much of their staff during the early months of the pandemic, have struggled to regain the staffing they once had. In October 2021, airlines employed 28,000 fewer employees than in October 2019. Additionally, an air traffic control staffing shortage contributed to national aviation system-caused delays. 

Southwest reportedly lost $75 million when it canceled more than 2,000 flights during a four-day period in October—but these delays aren’t only costly for airlines. American Airlines canceled nearly 1,500 flights over Halloween weekend, leaving thousands of passengers stranded and scrambling to finish their trip. 

(Credit: Emma Rubin, Stacker)

Flight volume and variety is increasing

All airlines took a hit from the widespread cancellations and restrictions during the first nine months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Though larger airlines can weather the storm, smaller companies are not so well protected. Forty-three commercial airlines failed from January to October 2020 despite government aid efforts. Because the pandemic was at a peak during the prime travel months of summer, airlines were not able to build up their typical stores of cash that help them survive slower seasons.

Current data shows a healthy variety of airlines at the top five busiest domestic airports. While United, American, Delta, and Southwest have historically served as the predominant carriers in the U.S., the percent share of airline volume from other companies increased in 2021 at all but one of the five busiest airports. The raw share of “other” airline volume increased at all five, including no-frills budget airlines.

(Credit: Emma Rubin, Stacker)

Southern airports are thriving

Of the 12 airports that make up the five busiest airports and their top five destinations, 10 fall below the Mason-Dixon line. A quarter of the dozen are in Florida alone, indicative of the state’s thriving tourism industry and renouncement of COVID-19 restrictions. Significant airports missing from the map include all of New York’s destinations, as well as Seattle, Minneapolis-St.Paul, and San Francisco. All of these destinations had far more strict COVID-management measures than Florida, Georgia, and Texas, where half of the busiest airports and their destinations are located.

Source link

Americans set another pandemic-era record for air travel

Americans set a record for pandemic-era air travel, then broke it again over the Mother’s Day holiday weekend.

The Transportation Security Administration said that slightly more than 1.7 million people were screened at airport checkpoints on Sunday, the highest number since March 2020, when travel was collapsing because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Sunday’s mark was about 4,500 more than the previous record, set just two days earlier.

However, those crowds were still far smaller than before the pandemic. Sunday’s TSA count was down 29% from the comparable Sunday two years ago, according to TSA.

Air travel has been rising slowly for more than a year since hitting bottom in mid-April 2020. The numbers had levelled off recently, but with the busy weekend, the 7-day moving average of U.S. air travellers surpassed the period around the Easter holiday and also set a pandemic-era high.

Airlines say most of the people on flights now are leisure travellers going to destinations within the United States.

International travellers entering the U.S. are required to show proof of a negative test for COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said recently travellers can meet that requirement with federally approved home-testing kits, potentially making international travel a little easier.

The Associated Press

Source link

US sets pandemic-era high for air travel, over 1.6 million

The United States set another record for the number of air travelers since the pandemic set in, although passenger numbers remain far below 2019 levels.

Nearly 1.67 million people were screened at U.S. airport checkpoints on Sunday, according to the Transportation Security Administration. That was the highest number screened since March 12 of last year when air travel began to plummet.

However, it was still 35% below the number of airport travelers reported on the comparable Sunday in 2019, according to TSA figures.

Airlines started to see an increase in bookings around mid-February, and the TSA has screened at least 1 million people every day since March 11. Vacation destinations have been most popular — business travel, which is more profitable for airlines, remains drastically diminished.

Airline executives are cautiously optimistic about summer travel as more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it is safe for vaccinated people to travel within the United States, although it continues to warn against travel to most foreign countries.

Last week, the TSA extended its requirement that airline passengers wear face masks. That rule was set to expire May 11, but TSA extended it through mid-September.

Travelers should expect planes to be more full. Over the weekend, Delta Air Lines stopped blocking off middle seats. It was the last U.S. airline to limit seating as a safety precaution.

Source link

Easter weekend has already set a pandemic-era air travel record in the U.S.


Due to the COVID-19 vaccine becoming more widely available, Easter is the first holiday that many of you can safely gather and finally hug your family members.

On Friday, U.S. air travel set a pandemic-era record with TSA screening more than 1.5 million people at airports.

Many people packed their bags and headed back to Southwest Florida International Airport, some for the first time since the pandemic began.

Evan Mounts came from Ohio. “We were actually here when Ohio started shutting down so a lot of fear and anxiety we weren’t sure if we should travel home at that time. We haven’t been anywhere since then,” said Mounts.

Scott Shirley is from Indianapolis. “It’s been 16 months since we had a vacation so it was long-awaited,” Shirley said.

People have been longing for vacation and now, may finally get to enjoy one. The CDC says that if you’re fully vaccinated, then you’re clear for takeoff. No tests required before the flight and no quarantine required after.

Dr. Rebekah Bernard is the President of the Collier County Medical Society. “It’s very difficult for people to travel and get tested all the time and probably is something that’s not necessary at this point based on what we know about the vaccine, about the vaccine’s effectiveness,” said Dr. Bernard.

The decision comes now that there is more confidence surrounding the vaccine’s effectiveness. However, despite this green light, the CDC is still only encouraging essential travel. So, maybe don’t book those summer vacation flights just yet.

“We’re not quite back to normal yet. It’s a very good sign it’s very positive we still need to be a little reserved a little bit careful,” Dr. Bernard said.

Scott Shirley said he’s close to being fully vaccinated. And, he’s ready to feel less stressed when traveling.

“It’s a lot more pleasing to go on vacation without worrying about some things,” Shirley said.

If you aren’t fully vaccinated, the CDC is still recommending that you get tested prior to traveling and that you quarantine afterward.

Dr. Bernard says that the new guidelines and the effectiveness of the vaccines could be new incentives for those who were previously on the fence to get vaccinated.

Source link

TSA reports new pandemic-era air travel record in US

Another pandemic-era air travel record was set Friday in the United States, the Transportation Security Administration reports.

According to CNN, the TSA screened 1,580,785 people at airports on Good Friday.

That’s compared to 129,763 people in 2020, and 2,476,884 travelers in 2019.

Air travel figures continue to rise during the spring break period, even as health experts show concerns over rising COVID-19 infection rates in some states, CNN reports.

Friday’s figure marked the 23rd straight day when more than one million people have traveled by air.

The Centers for Disease Control updated its guidance Friday to say fully vaccinated people can travel within the US without getting a COVID-19 test or going into quarantine.

Stay in touch with us anytime, anywhere.

To reach the newsroom or report a typo/correction, click HERE.

Sign up for newsletters emailed to your inbox. Select from these options: Breaking News, Evening News Headlines, Latest COVID-19 Headlines, Morning News Headlines, Special Offers

Follow us on Twitter

Like us on Facebook

Follow us on Instagram

Subscribe to our Youtube channel

Source link

Pandemic-era airfare deals harder to find as vaccines boost travel

Manhattan art gallery partner Axel Katz found himself with far more free time than usual when his Dacia Gallery temporarily closed in March 2020 and he recovered from COVID-19 soon after. The 27-year-old filled the void that followed by traveling to destinations both domestic and abroad, scouring the internet for extreme airfare deals that started popping up during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The low airfares he paid were almost as memorable as the sights he saw. In May 2020, Katz flew roundtrip from New York to Los Angeles for roughly $150. In January 2021, he purchased a $34 roundtrip ticket from New York to Naples, Florida. 

Katz estimated he’s taken nine trips in the past year, at times enjoying perks including entire rows of seats to himself as tourism vaporized. “I’ve never travelled this much in any other 12-month period,” he said. 

Axel Katz, a partner in Dacia Gallery in New York, took advantage of rock-bottom airfares to travel widely during the coronavirus pandemic. “I’ve never travelled this much in any other 12-month period,” he said. 

Courtesy of Axel Katz

Today, empty planes and rock-bottom airfares are harder to come by as more Americans get vaccinated and reacquaint themselves with air travel. The accelerating vaccine rollout has also coincided with spring breaks and summer vacation planning, leading many Americans to online booking websites. Airlines are finding they no longer have to slash prices quite so heavily to draw leisure travelers. 

“The deals between Thursday and Monday are not significantly better than they normally would be this time of year,” said Bob Mann, president of R.W. Mann & Company, an airline industry consulting firm. 

“There is still discounting out there,” Mann added, “especially for mid-week travel, which is normally where business travelers are but they aren’t now [with in-person business meetings still largely on hold].”

Busiest travel day of the year

Still, Americans who’ve been cooped up for more than a year, including college students, are now eager for recreational travel. Miami’s popular party destination South Beach was overtaken by such large crowds of spring breakers that the city of Miami Beach on March 20 declared a state of emergency and imposed curfews from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. (The curfew was extended this week.)

Miami Beach imposes emergency curfew amid par…


The number of travelers passing through airports each day is ticking up, too. The Transportation Security Administration screened more than 1.5 million passengers Sunday, making it the busiest travel day of 2021 for the U.S., according to CBS News transportation correspondent Errol Barnett. 

The number of airline passengers has exceeded 1 million for 11 straight days, according to the TSA, Barnett reported. That’s despite recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention against traveling, and suggestions for Americans to delay trips or at east get vaccinated before traveling. 

Fares no longer dirt-cheap, but still low

Industry analysts say airfares have been inching upward since last month, as vulnerable groups of Americans gained access to the vaccine and COVID-19 business restrictions began to loosen.

Travel expert and Harrell Associates founder Bob Harrell, who tracks airline-pricing trends, said “shockingly low” pandemic fares are rising again as “leisure travelers come out of their holes, get vaccines, and starting moving around and going on spring break.”

“As demand finds its way into the market, the airlines are increasing prices,” Harrell told CBS MoneyWatch. 

The average minimum domestic leisure fare — meaning the cheapest available one-way ticket price on the market — across 300 different routes for the week of March 16, 2020, was $52, according to Harrell’s analysis, based on data from airlines and online booking sites. That rose 14% this year to $59 for the week of March 15, 2021.

Gas prices rise as travel increases across U….


Fares have been rising steadily by the week, too. That $59 low represents a 6% jump from $56 — the lowest average fare for the week of March 8.

For a week in mid-March in 2020, the lowest available one-way fare from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport in Texas to San Jose International Airport in California was a mere $84. A year later, the lowest available fare for the same route is already in the triple digits — an increase of 33% to $112. The lowest one-way rate for a flight from Newark, New Jersey, to Orlando, Florida, has also jumped, from $18 to $34 over the course of a year, according to Harrell’s analysis. 

While fares are starting to rise across the online booking site Expedia, they have yet to return to pre-pandemic levels. “Airfare prices are still lower overall compared to 2019,” a company spokesperson said. 

Currently, prices for mid-April, one-way flights from New York City to Orlando on Expedia start at around $230, compared to an average price of $300 for the same route in 2019. 

“It’s worth noting that we are seeing airlines respond to the increased demand, so these lower prices aren’t likely to last too much longer, especially for popular destinations and routes,” the Expedia spokesperson said.

Last call for low fares

Despite signs of life in the tourism industry, data from fare aggregator Kayak show it’s still a good time to save money on travel, even if airfares are starting to rise. Searches for summer travel have been increasing by up to 27% each week since the beginning of the month, according to a Kayak spokesperson. 

The search site recommends that travelers book trips now to lock in relatively low fares before the travel industry rebounds in earnest. Its data already show an average monthly price increase of 7% for the 100 most-searched destinations from the U.S. Prices for flights to Destin, Florida, for example, the site’s top trending destination for summer travel, are up 60% this year.

For a sweet deal, consider Mexico, Kayak suggests. Average prices on flights to Cancun, Cabo San Lucas and Mexico City are still down at least 15%.

Source link

San Diego Travel Agencies See Renewed Interest As Customers Look to Navigate Pandemic-Era Rules – NBC 7 San Diego

At this point, we are all probably anxious to take a trip somewhere. And as we start traveling again, varying COVID-19-era rules and restrictions are going to make planning tough.

As a result, travel agencies could be seeing an uptick in clients looking for help with rules that are likely to change from place to place.

Thursday, after a visit to San Diego, Steve Wood is on his way back to Vegas, a bit refreshed.

“I think people are desperate to travel now. Lots of friends back in the UK and around Europe are all saying the exact same thing. We want life to get back to normal, desperate to go just anywhere else, something different you know?” Wood said.

Wood desperately wants to travel to London to see his mother, but that’s not possible right now with COVID restrictions.

“She’s been alone completely for a year. Terrified to go outside. So she goes to the supermarket every once in a while but she’s terrified,” he explained.

Planning a trip will no longer consist of just scouring for the best deals online. Navigating a world post-pandemic could be challenging.

“I’m not even sure where to look otherwise. Because all my questions: Can I go? What am I allowed to do? I have no clue. And there’s no place to look. I mean try Googling that. Good luck,” Wood said.

As more destinations open up, Lynn Aguilera with travel agency Protravel International said there is a renewed interest in travel advisors.

“There’s a lot of training that does go behind being a travel advisor. It’s not just going online and looking and reading the best reviews. But really knowing a vendor, knowing a tour operator, knowing the hotels ins and outs,” Aguilera said.

Aguilera said there is a lot to navigate, and a really good advisor for budget or luxury travel is going to have access that the average traveler won’t.

“There’s a lot to navigate. Its a lot of research online where a really good advisor, for budget or luxury, is gonna have access to and help any client navigate that road,” she said.

It’s become an unfamiliar road of COVID testing and quarantine rules. When the pandemic hit, Aguilera said advisors were swamped with handling canceled trips and airline ticket reimbursement for clients.

“We have direct lines to global distributing systems. So we are able to get in there just like an airline can and do the job that needs to be done,” she said.

Advisors are likely familiar and well-researched on destinations, hoteliers, cruises and tours that are following CDC guidelines.

“We are sending our clients to places like Mexico, which is open. They’re doing testing on site at certain locations and depending on length of stay, those tests are done at no cost to our clients,” said Aguilera.

Travel advisors that survived the pandemic have been preparing for a new era of travel that may actually revive a long declining part of the hospitality industry.

Source link