United adding European destinations ahead of summer travel rebound


Chicago-based United Airlines is adding five new transatlantic destinations in Spring 2022 as it prepares for a potential bounce back in summer travel between the United States and Europe next year.

The expansion would be the largest transatlantic expansion in the company’s history and includes destinations in Spain, Portugal, Norway, the Spanish Canary Islands and Jordan.

“Given our big expectations for a rebound in travel to Europe for summer, this is the right time to leverage our leading global network in new, exciting ways,” Patrick Quayle, senior vice president of international network and alliances at United, said in a Thursday news release. 

United will be the first North American carrier to fly to the five new destinations.  

  • Bergen, Norway: Starting May 20, United will offer flights three times a week between New York/Newark and Bergen on a Boeing 757-200. 
  • Azores, Portugal: Flights between New York/Newark and Ponta Delgada in the Azores begin May 13 with a new Boeing 737 MAX 8. This will be United’s third Portuguese destination, along with flights to Porto (which return in March) and Lisbon (which are being operated from New York and are set to resume from Washington, D.C. next summer).
  • Palma de Mallorca, Spain: Travelers can fly from New York/Newark to the beach destination in the Balearic Islands in a Boeing 767-300ER starting June 2. United will offer flights three times a week. 
  • Tenerife in the Spanish Canary Islands: United is set to launch a new flight from New York/Newark to the Tenerife on June 9, offering service three times a week via a Boeing 757-200. 
  • Amman, Jordan: Flights from Washington, D.C. to Amman begin May 5 with service three-times-weekly with a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner. 

Tickets for Bergen, Azores, Palma de Mallorca and Tenerife go on sale Thursday, and Amman tickets should follow soon after. 

The airline is also adding new flights to five European destinations (Berlin, Dublin, Milan, Munich and Rome) “in anticipation of a resurgence in visitors” and relaunching seven routes that had been paused during the pandemic to Bangalore, Frankfurt, Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, Nice and Zurich, all of which are subject to government approval. 

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The expansion would follow the launch of a new air travel system in the U.S. in early November that will ease travel restrictions for fully vaccinated foreign nations.

While international flight capacity saw gains this year, it has a ways to go before catching up to pre-pandemic levels. International passenger demand dropped 76% between 2019 and 2020, the sharpest traffic decline in aviation history according to the International Air Transport Association.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Bailey Schulz on Twitter: @bailey_schulz

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Coronavirus live: Indonesia records biggest daily increase in new cases; EU not adding UK to travel green list | World news

In 46 states, the rates of new cases this past week are at least 10% higher than the rates of new cases the previous week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Hotez said: “Transmission will continue to accelerate … and the ones who will also pay the price, in addition to the unvaccinated adolescents, are the little kids who depend on the adults and adolescents to get vaccinated in order to slow or halt transmission.”

As cases increase, only 48.1% of the population is fully vaccinated, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And though many may brush off the risk of low vaccination rates to children, citing their low Covid-19 mortality rates, Hotez said they are still at risk for serious complications.

In Mississippi, seven children are in intensive care with Covid-19, and two are on ventilators, State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs tweeted Tuesday evening.

Many more adolescents could become hospitalized, Hotez said, adding up to 30% of children infected will develop long-haul covid.

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Passport delays adding to growing list of travel troubles

Four to six weeks appears to be the standard wait time now for a passport renewal. Gina Spyropoulos says before the pandemic it would take 1 to 2 days.

DALLAS — This holiday weekend has all the makings of a perfect storm for air travel. All major U.S. airports will see significant delays and possible cancelations due to peak holiday travel combined with labor shortages. 

AAA expects 3.5 million people to fly this July 4th weekend, which is a 164% increase from last year.

“July 1 is going to be the busiest day since COVID started, but it’ll only have that record for four days because July 5 is going to break it,” said Scott Kirby, CEO of United Airlines.

Delays have already been seen at DFW Airport and Dallas Love Field over the last week. Customers told WFAA about delayed flights, overbooked flights, and even cancelled flights. Airlines have made it known labor shortages among vendors have not helped the situation.

RELATED: Experts warn of more delays, cancellations as thousands fly out for 4th of July weekend 

According to FlightAware, as of 9 p.m. Thursday, July 1, both Southwest and American Airlines account for 300 canceled flights and 2,200 delayed flights.

Also if you’re still planning a trip overseas for later, there are significant delays there too. Passport renewals are taking much longer than normal.

“I got two clients that got theirs in four weeks, and that was last month,” said Gina Spyropoulos, who is a travel advisor with Spy Travel. 

Four to six weeks appears to be the standard wait time right about now. Spyropoulos told WFAA that before the pandemic, it would take one to two days for expedited service.

Passport offices across the country have been inundated with applications and appointments. 

“I don’t want that client that says I’m leaving tomorrow and my passport is expired, it’s a nightmare,” said Spyropoulos.

She recommends people find a reputable travel advisor to help you manage the ever-changing landscape of travel. She also recommends people act early, because traveling abroad in a pandemic comes with a certain level of uncertainty. 

“Because of the fact that you know there are shortage and staffing, you know they’re going to be long lines, just be patient,” said Everett Kelley with the American Federation of Government Employees, and national president for TSA. 

Whether you’re flying domestic or international, there will be significant waits and certainly frustration. In what appears to be the latter stages of a pandemic, this will be the first real chance for people to get away, if you can.

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U.S. Airports adding PCR testing sites: Travel Weekly

By May 1, travelers will be able to get rapid Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Covid-19 tests at more than a dozen U.S. airports.

The onset of rapid PCR tests, a molecular test that is more accurate than the long-standing rapid antigen tests, has the potential to ease the way for travel to Hawaii and a variety of foreign countries that do not accept antigen test results.

Results from traditional PCR tests take 24 to 72 hours to come in.

• Related: U.S. airports roll out Covid tests in bid to reopen travel markets

PCR tests offering results in less than hour are already available at the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles Airport for $199.

The test, developed by the San Jose, Calif.-based diagnostics company Visby, is accepted by Hawaii, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) said in an April 20 press release, as well as by a number of international destinations.

“By adding a one-hour rapid PCR test, LAX once again is leading the way in airport innovation and guest service and providing travelers with access to dependable and accurate rapid-testing solutions that meet their timing needs,” LAWA CEO Just Erbacci said in a statement.

A broader rollout of rapid PCR tests is underway by XpresCheck, an airport testing brand developed by the airport wellness company XpresSpa in response to the pandemic.

XpresCheck deployed the rapid Accula PCR test of Massachusetts-based Thermo Fisher Scientific at New York JFK and Houston Bush this month. In addition, two XpresCheck locations each in Boston and Newark airports as well as XpresCheck locations in Denver, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Francisco and Seattle and at Washington Dulles and Washington Reagan will offer rapid PRC tests by May 1.

Tests are $225 at JFK and $250 at the other locations. The tests are accepted by Hawaii’s Trusted Testing Partner program. Results are promised within 30 minutes.

Rapid PCR tests are also now available at the Pittsburgh and Grand Rapid, Mich., airports via Georgia-based provider Tackl Health. Results are promised within 30 minutes. The Tackl tests cost $275.

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Airlines adding flights as interest in travel soars

At this time last year, airlines were canceling flights. Now, they’re adding them back because people’s interest in flying is on the rise with COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations decreasing and vaccinations increasing.

According to Flightradar24, airlines are adding more flights to leisure destinations, but cutting business routes. Some travelers like August Fusco said they have been ready to travel.

“The problem was there was no place to go, months ago – I would’ve flown back then too,” said August.

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However, others like Delores Tolbert, said they are staying more cautious.

“I understand it from the point that people want to get out, but I’m not ready to go that far yet,” said Tolbert.

No one could blame you if you’re not quite ready to fantasize about a fabulous getaway just yet. After all, international travel from the U.S. is still heavily restricted. The CDC is still advising everyone to avoid travel altogether since it increases your chances of contracting and spreading COVID-19.

The CDC will be coming out with new guidance on life after the vaccine soon. The guidelines are expected to advise that vaccinated people can host small at-home gatherings with other vaccinated people. No masks required. However, you would still have to wear a mask and social distance in public even if you’ve been vaccinated.

Travelers wearing face masks are seen at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, the United States, Feb. 2, 2021. (Photo by Ting Shen/Xinhua via Getty Images)

READ MORE: COVID-19 testing to be available next month at Reagan National, Dulles International airports

Dr. Adalja Amesh, Senior Scholar at John’s Hopkins for Health Security, said the CDC is likely waiting on more data before putting out new protocols.

“If you’re vaccinated you really don’t have much to fear, you really can get back to your life as it was because the risk to you is very low and we’re getting more data that as a vaccinated person you don’t pose a threat to others because you’re very unlikely to be an asymptotic carrier, but it’s going take some time for the guidance to catch up with the real-world data from the vaccine,” said Dr. Adalja.

According to the founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights, Scott Keyes, every single day for the past week, the number of flight searches is setting a new record since the start of the pandemic. He said though we’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with more people getting vaccinated – there is no need to rush.

“I don’t think that folks should be booking flights before they are ready if it’s something that is adding anxiety or adding stress then far be it from me or anybody else to encourage you to do so before you’re ready because a vacation is something that should take away stress, not add to it,” said Keyes.

He also expects this to be one of the busiest travel summers we have seen in recent memory. Keyes adds if you are interested in traveling, buy sooner rather than later because he expects a travel surge.

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Triad hospitals adding travel nurses to help deal with pandemic

Triad hospitals are in the middle of a delicate balancing act – giving patients the best care without putting even more of a strain on staff.

They’re trying to stay ahead of the COVID crisis by adding travel nurses.

These are men and women who travel away from home, typically for months, to go where the need is.

“I knew that there were going to be needs across our nation. I also know that there are needs home,” travel nurse Alex Bearder said.

Bearder was born and raised in North Carolina.

She spent part of her career working in Georgia’s metro Atlanta region.

She’s now treating COVID-19 patients at Cone Health’s Green Valley Campus – the former Women’s Hospital.

“Our goal is to be a part of the team, so we don’t see ourselves really as temporary, but for as long as we can kind of be of service,” Bearder said.

John Ferreira is a travel nurse who has worked at the Green Valley Campus since April 2020.

His first travel nurse assignment was in Greenville.

He was in Salem, Virginia just prior to coming to the Triad.

He says his experiences have been rewarding.

“It really, really has been rewarding because you get to go to different places, meet different people and see what other hospitals do differently than your home hospital,” Ferreira said.

Cone Health has 363 travel nurses, the equivalent of about 10 percent of the staff.

“We’ve got about 287 being used just to treat Covid patients, but we also have travel nurses in some of our harder to staff areas like our intensive care units and some of our progressive care units,” Cone Health Chief Nurse Executive Dr. Kenneth Rempher said.

Getting that many travel nurses on board didn’t come from a quick phone call.

It took weeks of planning based on projections from data scientists.

Looking ahead has not only helped to meet patient needs, but it has also helped address concerns surrounding staff burnout.

“Cause during times like this, we ask people to pick up additional shifts. We ask them to pick up overtime and we’re very careful because we have a worker fatigue policy that requires us to stay within certain guidelines,” Rempher said.

Cone Health’s contracts for travel nurses are typically 13 weeks but can be renewed for longer.

There are plans to add another 50 in the next few weeks.

Novant Health has 242 travel nurses across its acute care facilities in North Carolina and northern Virginia.

Wake Forest Baptist Health is also using travel nurses, but an approximate number was not available.

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