While most of travel is currently at a standstill due to COVID-19, there are still many questions pertaining to the current situation and travel including airline policies, loyalty programs and the future of air travel.
Q. Are planes still flying and what is it like at airports these days?
A. Planes are still flying but at a highly reduced rate and at least 64 global airlines have completely stopped flying during this time. In terms of major airlines, you can keep up to date through our airline information updates page.
In terms of what it’s like at the airport, on April 6th, the TSA recorded a record low of 108,310 travellers in the airport that day in comparison to the same weekday last year that saw 2,384,091 passengers.
Social distancing measures have been implemented at airports when it comes to security and other lines. Additionally, all major airports are now offering hand sanitizer stations around terminals for free and the TSA has made an exception to its liquid rule and is allowing one 12-ounce bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer per passenger.
Q. What about my status with the airlines? Are airlines extending their status windows?
A. Several airlines, such as Delta, United and Air Canada have recently announced the extension of loyalty status until the end of 2021 with others expected to follow. These airlines have also introduced other facets to their programs to encourage people to fly and accumulate miles once it’s possible to do so.
Q. Will airlines refund any travel that has been disrupted or cancelled by the coronavirus?
A. Typically, airlines will refund or provide a credit for a disrupted trip but it does depend on the individual airline and the level of disruption. It is up to each airline to determine the level of disruption or risk necessary to offer refunds.
Many airlines have issued travel waivers for travelers who had plans to visit affected areas. For more information, view airline policies here.
Q. I have an upcoming trip planned, should I cancel it?
A.This depends on your destination. You’ll have to consider potential risk factors for yourself, such as your physical condition, age, comfort with risk and so on, as well as any potential risk following the recent travel bans.
Follow the Government of Canada for updates on the risk level of your destination.
Q. What are airlines doing now to keep people safe and healthy while travelling?
A. Most airlines already have CDC-approved cleaning policies in place for each flight, including disinfecting and cleaning surfaces in between each flight. In addition, many airlines use HEPA filters for air filtration on flights, which remove 99.97% of bacteria in the air on planes. This means that airborne particles that spread viruses aren’t spreading around planes through the recycled air. Many airlines are also providing virus response kits and additional cleaning materials to crews flying through areas with higher risks and travel warnings.
Airlines have also introduced safety protocols that include creating distance by not seating customers in the middle seat and limiting refreshment services – with some airlines offering limiting service to bottled water for passengers.
Q. What will airlines be doing to help prevent the spread of illness when we travel again?
A. Airlines have always cleaned their aircrafts in between flights, however more rigorous methods have been introduced and are here to stay for certain airlines. One such airline is Delta, who has introduced a new standard of clean for customers, which will include a fogging procedure before each flight using a high-grade disinfectant.
Q. What measures have Corporate Traveller put in place to manage the ongoing situation?
A. The team at Corporate Traveller is available 24/7 for clients requiring any assistance throughout this situation from booking flights to managing cancellations or answering any questions you may have. Additionally, we have enhanced our Duty of Care Tools to better support our customers.
One such tool is Secure, our travel risk management solution offered through YOUR.CT, where a COVID-19 dashboard has been developed to aid all customers by providing accurate and reliable information about the spread of the virus as well as timely departure and arrival reports to assist travel managers locate and communicate with their travellers. Find out more here.
Another helpful tool is Sam, your personal travel assistant in your pocket. When it comes to traveller security, Sam can deliver risk management automated alerts, geo-located traveller check-ins, as well as travel-related announcements. Find out more here.
Q. With very few airlines flying and hotels quite empty right now, how will travel companies survive?
A. Stage and Screen is part of a much larger organization, The Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG), which has been around for approximately 40 years. As a globally established and reputable travel brand, FCTG has a strong capital base to sustain this global crisis. Stage and Screen, amongst many other travel companies, is extremely well positioned to continue to support our clients with any business travel needs.
Q. If I need to make changes or cancel an upcoming trip due to the evolving nature of the situation, what do I do?
A. If your travel plans change, please reach out to your dedicated Travel Manager who will assist with any changes or cancellations. Keep in mind that they will be following each airline’s specific policies to get you a refund or credit where possible. For more information on specific airline policies click here.
Q. What should I be doing to prepare for when we start travelling again?
A.The impact coronavirus (COVID-19) has had on the travel industry is unprecedented and has even put the most robust travel risk management plans to test. If there are key takeaways from recent events, they are to expect the unexpected and be prepared for anything. Read our recommendations on what you can do now to modify your travel program such as focusing on duty of care to ensure traveller safety in instances such as the one we are currently experiencing.
Q. I have a credit from a previous flight that is set to expire in the coming weeks. Will the airlines extend the period in which I can rebook?
A. Each airline is handling this differently, this article is a great point of reference as to what some of the major airlines are doing. If the credit is for a trip booked with Stage and Screen, your dedicated Travel Manager will be happy to look into this for you and extend the credit if possible.
Q. What sort of flexibility with suppliers be offering with regards to changes and cancellations moving forward?
A. Currently, airlines are taking it day by day, adapting to the situation as they see fit, extending rebooking windows and waiving change fees. As it is currently such a fluid situation, it is unclear how airlines will proceed once air travel resumes at a more normal rate.
Q. When will this all be over?!
A. We wish we knew! Unfortunately, the answer is unclear for everyone right now. However, rest assured that we are monitoring the situation very closely and will keep our clients updated on any changes as it pertains to travel. We look forward to seeing Canadian businesses out there travelling and working again soon.