Travelers endure long lines at CLT Airport during holiday travel weekend amid discovery of new COVID-19 variant

(FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) — A different kind of Black Friday crowd was at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, with long lines approaching security checkpoints throughout the morning and into the afternoon.

“I’ve never seen Charlotte like this,” said Lauren Denhoff of the crowd.

The lines are there, despite news of new worries and restrictions coming as a result of a new COVID-19 variant that was discovered in southern Africa that is believed to be more contagious than the Delta variant.

The United States has restricted travel from several African countries, and FOX 46 found more strict enforcements of mask mandates at the airport Friday as travelers were making their way through to their destinations.

The worries also led to a drop of over 900 points in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which financial experts said was tied to the fears of the new variant and its potential impacts on economies across the world.

For nearly two years now, people have seen the impact the pandemic has had on travel and transportation, along with their spending habits. Leo Marte, with Abundant Advisors in Huntersville, said any worries about the new variant should be taken with the knowledge that many parts of the world are prepared.

“We didn’t have vaccines, we didn’t have therapeutic treatments, we didn’t have a lot of things that really caught us off-guard,” said Marte.  “Now, we have a global infrastructure to address the pandemic.”

Marte believes, for now, that may lead to a smaller effect on the stock market and on any potential worries about pandemic restrictions continuing.

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Long lines expected at O’Hare, Midway

Good news for air travelers this week: the Transportation Safety Administration is now reporting 93% of its workforce is in compliance with the federal worker vaccine mandate.

That means there at least won’t be a shortage of staff when going through security this holiday season. However, lines are still going to be long this week.

“Even more people are coming out of the woodwork to return to normal whereas Thanksgiving is about 90% of pre-pandemic, Christmas could be closer to 100 percent pre-pandemic,” said DePaul University’s Joseph Schweiterman.

The Chicago Department of Aviation estimates O’Hare and Midway will welcome more than twice the number of passengers than last year, with O’Hare expecting to see 1.2 million travelers Tuesday through Monday.


Schweiterman said prices this week are fairly average, but — if your family allows it — travel on Thanksgiving or Friday morning. He said the airfare is cheap, like it will be in early December until about the 15th.

“There’s going to be some real value out there, starting Monday or Tuesday until December 15th because there’s kind of a vacuum without business travelers and pleasure travelers who tend to stay home at that period,” said Schweiterman.

Schweiterman says don’t forget about trains, buses and rental cars as options for travel this holiday season — all are comparable to airfare.

If you are flying, a few tips: wear your mask, arrive early and take public transportation to get where you need to go.

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Delta Air Lines Helps New Parents Bring Adopted Son Home After Missed Flight

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Busy travel weekend expected at IND, long lines continuing through holidays – WISH-TV | Indianapolis News | Indiana Weather

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Airport officials are anticipating a busy travel weekend at Indianapolis International Airport following the Bands of America Grand National Championships that brought 39,000 people into Indianapolis. It’s expected that the travel spike will continue through the holidays.

Airport officials are reminding travelers to arrive early, pack smart and plan ahead as TSA anticipates 16,000 people from that band competition to come through Indianapolis International Airport on Sunday alone to travel home. They expect Sunday morning to be the busiest day this weekend.

“I just talked to our Indianapolis team, and the elevated travel volumes have started. So I would say anytime you are traveling now through the holidays you can expect those long lines everyday,” Jessica Mayle with TSA Great Lakes Region said.

Matt Lowe and his daughter were headed to Virginia for a softball tournament.

“I didn’t really know what to expect so we are here, like, way early — like, three hours,” Lowe said.

Not everyone is having such a smooth travel experience. Chrystal Mukendi and her friends were planning to head to Las Vegas on Friday night. They arrived an hour before their flight was scheduled to leave.

“Once I checked in, or was attempting to check my luggage in, I was told that American Airlines system shuts off at a certain point and so it was entirely too late for us to check our luggage in,” Mukendi said.

Friday night, the lines weren’t too bad at the airport — but come Saturday morning, when Mukendi and her friends will be boarding their new flight, that is expected to change.

“I am going to make sure I am here like two to two-and-a-half hours early,” Mukendi said.

“The busy times of day in Indianapolis are 5 to 7 a.m. So definitely if you are getting one of those first flights of the day, you can anticipate having a longer line versus someone who is leaving later in the afternoon,” Mayle said.

Travel has been on the rise nationally since since more people have been getting vaccinated and travel restrictions have been lifted.

Indianapolis is expecting pre-pandemic level travel this holiday season.

“Right now we are seeing travel volumes at Indianapolis at about 95% of those 2019 levels. There are certainly individual days where we are exceeding 2019,” Mayle said.

Because of the rise specifically in leisure travel, TSA is reminding people to arrive early for their flights, wear a mask and double-check the TSA website to make sure you aren’t bringing any prohibited items to ensure the smoothest travel experience possible.

“The best thing that you can do as a passenger to keep that line moving is to not bring anything in your bag that is going to trigger an alarm,” Mayle said.

TSA says that, on average, arriving two hours before your flight is set to take off is enough time at Indianapolis international to have a smooth travel experience.

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U.S. News Announces the 2022 Best Cruise Lines | Press Room

With much of the world reopening to international travel, U.S. News surveyed travelers to understand the effects of COVID-19 on cruiser sentiments. U.S. News unveiled the survey results at the Seatrade Global Conference in October which found that cruisers – both first-time and longtime – are booked at higher levels than before the pandemic. U.S. News survey data also revealed that of the frequent travelers who indicated that they would cruise again, 20% are already signed up for their next sailing.

“Though most avenues of travel have been impacted throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the cruise industry has seen the most challenges,” said Nicola Wood, travel editor at U.S. News. “U.S. News is excited to once again highlight the leading cruise lines and provide in-depth information on ships, onboard activities and itineraries to travelers looking to research and book a cruise vacation.”

The rankings help travelers select the best cruise by brand, region, traveler type and budget. This year’s rankings are accompanied by an editorial rundown of the most popular river cruise lines for those looking for guidance on a different type of cruise that still offers itineraries with multiple destinations.

The methodology for the Best Cruise Lines rankings factors in expert evaluations of cruise ship quality, reputation among travelers, results from health assessments conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other factors, such as price class and itinerary offerings.

  1. Celebrity Cruises
  2. Holland America Line
  3. Royal Caribbean International

  1. Viking Ocean Cruises
  2. Seabourn Cruise Line
  3. Regent Seven Seas Cruises

  1. Disney Cruise Line
  2. Royal Caribbean International
  3. Carnival Cruise Line

  1. Viking Ocean Cruises
  2. Seabourn Cruise Line
  3. Azamara

  1. Viking Ocean Cruises
  2. Seabourn Cruise Line
  3. Azamara

  1. Disney Cruise Line
  2. Celebrity Cruises
  3. Seabourn Cruise Line

About U.S. News & World Report

U.S. News & World Report is the global leader in quality rankings that empower citizens, consumers, business leaders and policy officials to make better, more informed decisions about important issues affecting their lives. A multifaceted digital media company with Education, Health, Money, Travel, Cars, News and 360 Reviews platforms, U.S. News provides rankings, independent reporting, data journalism, consumer advice and U.S. News Live events. More than 40 million people visit each month for research and guidance. Founded in 1933, U.S. News is headquartered in Washington, D.C.

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Border crossings brace for long lines when travel ban lifts

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Communities on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border are preparing for heavy traffic and long waits at ports of entry on Monday when the U.S. will reopen its land borders to nonessential travel after almost 20 months of COVID-19 restrictions.

Travel across land borders from Canada and Mexico has been largely restricted to workers whose jobs are deemed essential. New rules will allow fully vaccinated foreign nationals to enter the U.S. regardless of the reason.

U.S. officials urged travelers to have their travel and vaccine documents readily available for border authorities to inspect in anticipation of longer-than-usual wait times at ports of entry.

Unvaccinated children will be allowed to enter the U.S. if they are traveling with a fully vaccinated adult, according to a San Diego Union Tribune report.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection also urged people traveling for non-essential reasons to avoid crossing at peak times.

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Border crossings brace for long lines when travel ban lifts

Communities on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border are preparing for heavy traffic and long waits at ports of entry on Monday when the U.S. will reopen its land borders to nonessential travel after almost 20 months of COVID-19 restrictions.

Travel across land borders from Canada and Mexico has been largely restricted to workers whose jobs are deemed essential. New rules will allow fully vaccinated foreign nationals to enter the U.S. regardless of the reason.

U.S. officials urged travelers to have their travel and vaccine documents readily available for border authorities to inspect in anticipation of longer-than-usual wait times at ports of entry.

Unvaccinated children will be allowed to enter the U.S. if they are traveling with a fully vaccinated adult, according to a San Diego Union Tribune report.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection also urged people traveling for non-essential reasons to avoid crossing at peak times.

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DIA has a new check-in process that’s supposed to alleviate the long lines

The airport is reconfiguring security lines, adding new kiosks and knocking down walls to make holiday travel a little easier.

The TSA checkpoint at Denver International Airport. Nov, 21, 2020.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

This holiday season promises to be a busy one for DIA, which recently reported struggling with capacity limits and labor shortages across its departments. Some of that has materialized into headline-grabbingly long lines to pass through security.

But on Thursday, DIA announced it’s made some changes to help speed up the check-in process during the holidays.

Some of the changes are structural. Historically, there’s been a wall on level 5 of the Jeppesen Terminal effectively creating a barrier between the North and South checkpoints. DIA removed that wall on Nov. 1 as part of DIA’s Great Hall Project. Now, you’ll be able to move between north and south freely to get to the right security checkpoint.

DIA will also add a new ticketing kiosk and bag drop area for Southwest passengers on Nov. 4, and for United passengers on Nov. 10. Both will be staged on the west side of level 6. To make it easier for these travelers to get from ticketing to security, DIA will remove dividing walls on level 6 both indoors and on the curb.

To accommodate surges in passengers, DIA will temporarily open the Pikes Peak Shuttle Lot, but only on the weekends. You can park in the lot Fridays from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturdays from 4:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., though the shuttle will run throughout the week to take travelers to and from their cars. If you plan to use the Pikes Peak shuttle from the lot, plan to get to DIA 30 minutes earlier so you have time to get to the terminal. When returning to your car, you can pick up the shuttle at the stop on the East side, Level 5, Island 3 by calling the pickup number, 303-342-4160.

Perhaps the biggest change is a reconfiguration of DIA’s security checkpoints.  

The airport has three security locations: the North and South Security Checkpoints on Level 5, and the A-Bridge Security Checkpoint on Level 6. DIA will be splitting different traveler groups across the checkpoints to improve flow through the terminal during busy travel periods.

The North Security Checkpoint will operate as a sort of express lane for members of expedited screening programs, as well as for standard travelers with fewer bags.

  • If you have TSA PreCheck, you should head to North Security after check in. Starting Nov. 2, DIA will begin moving PreCheck lanes to the North Checkpoint, and by Nov. 10, Pre-Check will only be available at the North Checkpoint.
  • If you have TSA PreCheck and you’re a Clear Customer, there’s a separate designated line for you on the east side of the North Checkpoint.
  • If you’re a Premium/Premier Traveler, there’s a designated line for you at the west side of the North Checkpoint.
  • If you’re a standard traveler but are only travelling with one bag, such as a backpack, briefcase, or purse, you can head to a designated “Travel-Lite Lane” at the North Checkpoint. Folks in this lane won’t have to wait behind travelers who need more security bins to get through security.

The North checkpoint is open  from 4 a.m.- 9 p.m. 

If you only qualify for Standard Screening- meaning you don’t have a screening program membership and are travelling with more than one bag- plan to head to the South Security Checkpoint.

While North Security will have a few standard screening lanes, there are far more on the South end, so standard screening travelers can expect less traffic and a quicker security experience at the South Checkpoint.

The South Checkpoint will also have one Clear lane for members who are not TSA PreCheck travelers. If you have both TSA PreCheck and a Clear membership, you should still head to the North Checkpoint.

The South Security Checkpoint operates 24/7. 

The A-Bridge Security Checkpoint, the smaller, sneakier checkpoint hidden at the level 6 bridge to terminal A, will also function primarily as standard screening.

The Bridge Checkpoint is open from 4:30 a.m. to about 6 p.m. 

Now, some general tips: 

Face coverings are still required at DIA and onboard planes, so be sure to bring a mask. As always during busy travel times, aim to arrive at least 2 hours before your departure time, and check-in online if you can to skip the lines. And check out this tip sheet for what to do and eat at DIA, what to expect from the Great Hall Project, and more  


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With US International Travel Reopening, Expect Higher Prices and Longer Lines

We’re fast approaching November 8, the date the United States’ new system for international travel goes into effect, and fully vaccinated foreign visitors can enter the country under a simpler and more inclusive set of COVID-19 regulations.

Under the new rules, international air arrivals coming from more than 30 countries must be fully vaccinated and provide a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of boarding their U.S.-bound flight.


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Reopening from COVID-19

The relaxation of U.S. border restrictions means that foreigners from more than 30 countries, whose citizens have been blanketly banned from entering the U.S. for the past 19 months, may visit for non-essential purposes—perhaps to reunite with friends or family or simply to vacation. That comes as most welcome news to the U.S. travel industry, which was categorically brought to its knees by fallout from the pandemic.

In its announcement earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also stipulated that airlines are to be responsible for collecting passengers’ information and passing it on to the agency for contact-tracing purposes. That’s expected to put additional strain on airport operations, since many carriers are still struggling to keep up in terms of adequate staffing levels and re-training.

Daniel Burnham, senior member operations specialist at Scott’s Cheap Flights, predicted that, with airline personnel being burdened with collecting contact information, and verifying each passenger’s vaccination status and test results, “this will likely cause crowding in the early days of implementing these new rules at many European airports,” as he told NBC News.

So, international travelers trying to fly to the U.S. are likely to encounter significant back-ups, long lines and wait times at the airport. They’re also likely to find fewer bargains on flights and accommodations, especially for hotels in popular U.S. cities, such as New York, Los Angeles and Orlando.

American Airlines gate agents at the counter
American Airlines gate agents at the counter. (photo courtesy of American Airlines)

According to Nicholas Calio, president and CEO of the trade association Airlines for America (A4A), searches and sales for flights to the U.S. are already spiking. “We have seen an increase in ticket sales for international travel over the past weeks,” he said in a statement, “and are eager to begin safely reuniting the countless families, friends and colleagues who have not seen each other in nearly two years, if not longer.”

Of course, as demand increases, so does pricing. The cost of an international flight has risen by an average of 12 percent since last month, Adit Damodaran, an economist for the travel app Hopper, told NBC. “We expect international prices to rise another 15 percent from now until the holidays,” he added.

“Travel searches on Expedia and have been simmering in anticipation of the borders reopening and came to a full boil the moment the U.S. pinpointed November 8,” Melanie Fish of Expedia Brands told the outlet. “Increased demand in 2022 is likely going to mean fewer travel bargains are out there.”

“It’s expected that city hotels in the U.S. will be in high demand—a reverse in trend over the past 18 months,” explained Misty Belles, vice president at the Virtuoso travel network. “So, say goodbye to low rates and flexible cancellation policies.”

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Most Major Cruise Lines Accepting Mixed Vaccines: Good News For Canadians

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As the world goes back to normal and cruise ships return to the oceans, we’re finally beginning to understand the vaccine requirements from cruise ships. 

Canadian travelers were worried about mixed vaccines and how that would affect their ability to travel going forward. Many Canadians received mixed vaccine doses, and some countries aren’t accepting mixed vaccine doses yet. 

The CDC’s position on mixed vaccines was unclear until recent weeks. The CDC now recognizes some mixed vaccine doses as fully vaccinated. 

But thankfully, most cruise ships accept mixed vaccines, and we have the complete list of entry requirements here.

Royal Caribbean Cruises

Royal Caribbean Cruises currently accepts guests with mixed vaccine doses as fully vaccinated.

However, Royal Caribbean Cruises states, “We understand some guests may have been vaccinated with doses from two different vaccine manufacturers.

“Whether these are accepted depends on where you are sailing from and the mix of manufacturers. In addition, mixed vaccines may not be accepted at all ports of call.”

Royal Caribbean Cruises are following the CDC’s guidelines.

Cruises departing from ports inside the U.S.

  • Mixed mRNA Vaccines – For sailings departing the U.S, the CDC recognizes a mixed series of mRNA vaccines as fully vaccines. For example, 1 shot of Pfizer with 1 shot of Moderna. However, the doses must be administered 28 days apart. Royal Caribbean cruises will consider guests fully vaccinated 14 days after the final dose. 
  • Mixed mRNA with AstraZeneca Vaccine – Royal Caribbean cruises will not consider guests fully vaccinated if their two shots consist of only 1 mRNA dose with 1 AstraZeneca dose. Royal Caribbean states they’re going to “continue to encourage the CDC and other U.S. government officials to re-evaluate this policy.”

Cruises departing from ports outside of the U.S. 

Royal Caribbean cruises will accept mixed doses of Pfizer and Moderna, or AstraZeneca with Moderna or Pfizer if they’re departing from outside of the United States.

The doses must be separated by at least 4 weeks and not more than 12 weeks for combinations of AstraZeneca with Pfizer or Moderna. 

Royal Caribbean accepts straight doses of vaccines approved by the World Health Organization and the U.S. FDA. The company considers guests fully vaccinated 14 days after the final dose of vaccines. 

For example, Royal Caribbean accepts 1 shot of Johnson & Johnson, 2 shots of Pfizer, 2 of Moderna, and 2 of AstraZeneca. 

Carnival Cruises 

Carnival Cruises, which own Princess, Seabourn, Holland, and Costa, currently accept guests with mixed vaccine doses as fully vaccinated.

However, Carnival Cruises currently accepts mixing mRNA vaccines only, such as Pfizer and Moderna. However, Carnival Cruises doesn’t accept guests as fully vaccinated with any other vaccine combination.

They state, “Canadian or other international guests who received a combination of AstraZeneca and Pfizer are considered unvaccinated by the CDC.”

Guests considered unvaccinated by Carnival Cruises will need to follow the applicable vaccination exemption requirements.

These include a 72-hour negative PCR test at check-in, an additional antigen test at embarkation, and another test within 24 hours of debarkation on all cruises exceeding 4 days in length. 

Norwegian Cruise Lines 

Norweigan Cruise Lines currently accepts guests with mixed vaccine doses as fully vaccinated.

However, the cruise accepts a mixed protocol of AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech, or Moderna combinations with a minimum interval of 28 days.

The cruise accepts straight doses of all vaccines approved by the FDA, EMA, and the World Health Organization. 

They also state guests who’ve received a Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine before another COVID-19 vaccine are still considered fully vaccinated by the company two weeks after the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Read More:

Travel Insurance That Covers Covid-19

Dominican Republic To Remain Open For Tourism With No Testing Or Vaccination Requirement

Mexico Covid-19 Entry Requirements

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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling.  Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories

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