Try to make this as contact-free as possible, Quigley said. Check in online, and use your phone for a boarding pass. If you must physically check in, do it at a kiosk. Experts recommend carrying bags on rather than checking them to be as safe as possible; if you must check a bag, look for contactless options. Quigley said he’s been able to print out a tag for his bag at a kiosk and then walk it to a drop-off point. “No person-to-person interaction,” he said.
Sept. 20 (UPI) — A pair of popular island travel destinations were added to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “very high” risk category on Monday.
People are encouraged to avoid traveling to locations designated Level 4, according to the CDC. The agency also advises that anyone who must travel to such locations be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Destinations designated as Level 4 have reported more than 500 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents within the past 28 days.
As of Monday, a total of 90 destinations have been designated as “very high” risk for COVID-19.
All three of the destinations elevated to Level 4 Monday had previously been designated “Level 3: High,” which indicates they have reported between 100 and 500 cases per 100,000 residents within the past 28 days.
Also Monday, the CDC upgraded Bonaire, Sao Tome and Principe and Ukraine from “Level 2: Moderate” to Level 3, while New Caledonia, was raised from “Level 1: Low” to Level 3.
Andorra, Colombia and Kuwait were all downgraded from Level 4 to Level 3.
The CDC broadly recommends that Americans avoid international travel entirely unless they are fully vaccinated.
Victoria Boldison, who founded health food, drink and
supplement export service Bolst Global, knew doing business alone as a Western,
non-Muslim woman in Saudi Arabia would be a challenge, though it was one she
“You hear all the perceptions, that it’s not something
that female, solo travelers can do on their own, that they can’t go to certain
places or access key decision makers in certain types of business
meetings,” Boldison said during a recent BTN symposium focusing on women
travelers’ experience. “I took a chaperoned visit, and I realized that it
wasn’t quite what I imagined.”
Since that first visit, Boldison has done quite a bit of
business in Saudi Arabia, letting her see firsthand some of the changes that
have been happening of late, and she generally has felt safe. Still, she’s had
occasional uncomfortable moments that stick out, such as a conversation with a
driver on the way to the airport that became increasingly personal.
“I was trapped there, and he was asking me personal
questions and for my social media handles, and I just wanted to get out of the
car,” she said. “There are experiences like that, where you just have
Harassment Fears Loom Large
Other incidents have set off her warning alarm as well over
her years on the road. There was a client in as she was traveling in the Middle
East who, during a trade show, was very insistent that she book a particular
hotel, saying it was a preferred property. She wanted to stay in a different
property, but he still insisted on booking it himself rather than her
preference to book it herself and be reimbursed.
“I was uncomfortable, because he knew where I was and
what time I was in the hotel,” Boldison said. “Did he know my room
number, and if he knows where I am, could the hotel give him access? Nothing
happened, but the worry was in the back of my mind.”
Boldison is hardly alone in having those types of fears. In
a Global Business Travel Association survey of about 500 women business
travelers a few years ago, 83 percent said that had experienced at least one
safety-related concern or incident over the previous year of traveling. The
vast majority said safety concerns affected productivity and frequency of
travel and their booking behaviors.
Concerns of sexual assault and harassment ranked near the
top of concerns, there are too frequent reminders of the risks travelers can
face even when they take precautions. New Jersey-based business traveler Cheri
Marchionda has shared her story of being sexually assaulted while on a business
trip in Iowa. She rejected the advances of a man at the hotel bar, but he later
entered her room while she was sleeping by convincing the front desk to give
him a key and a maintenance worker to open the door’s safety latch. Once
inside, he attacked and sexually assaulted her for several hours.
Kelly Kuhn, special advisor to CWT executive leadership, said
stories like Marchionda’s remain front-of-mind for women business travelers.
“If we’re not aware of it, we’re simply not informed;
it could have been any one of us,” Kuhn said. “There probably hasn’t
been a trip in all of these years where lewd comments haven’t been made, or I
haven’t been cornered in a hallway. You feel lucky to have gotten through it,
but… you cannot count on luck.”
BTN’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Series. Here’s what we’ve published to date. Watch for more in the coming weeks…
Carolyn Pearson, CEO and founder of travel risk management
and safety education provider Maiden Voyage, said she’s had her own share of
scary moments. One hotel stay, for example, was a short walk from the train
station, and taxi drivers didn’t want to make the trip because it was so short,
but even during that two-minute walk she would have been “petrified,”
she said. On the other extreme, however, were travel programs to overstep in
terms of precautions, it could preclude travelers excelling in opportunities
like Boldison did in Saudi Arabia.
“Everyone’s risk appetite is different, and we’ve got
to honor that,” Pearson said.
Concerns are not limited to unfamiliar countries or
encounters with strangers. Colleagues and staff can just as easily be the
This summer, the BBC reported that several women staying in
quarantine hotels in the United Kingdom reported being harassed by guards’ lewd
remarks and actions. In Australia, meanwhile, the mining industry is facing
government scrutiny over numerous reports of sexual harassment of women staying
at mining camps in Western Australia.
Sexual harassment from colleagues and superiors on business
trips often goes unreported, as women are afraid repercussions or just think
nothing will be done, Kuhn said. Business travel can magnify problems that
could be more pervasive in a workplace.
“If harassment is going to happen on a trip, it
probably already has been happening at home,” Kuhn said. “They needed
to have been able to report it when it was happening initially.”
Taking Precautions and Doing Research
Much like the travelers speaking at BTN’s
symposium on LGBTQ+ business travel earlier this summer, the travelers in
the women’s traveler symposium said they often take it upon themselves to do
the research when visiting a new location. When it comes to locations like
Saudi Arabia that can be particularly challenging for women, talking to other
women who have done business there can be one of the best sources of
Aisha Shaibu, founder of Moonlight Experiences, a tour
company that focuses on LGBTQ+ nightlife and culture, said she does “loads
and loads” of research before travel, to see potential issues that could
affect her as a woman of color and a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
“I look for friends or networks, like Facebook
groups,” she said. “If it’s somewhere I’m unsure about, I love
connecting with locals. You can gain a lot from locals, and it really puts you
That research has become even more important as travelers
increasingly seek to blend business trips with a leisure visit, Kuhn said.
While women often end up with the default option of an evening alone in the
hotel with room service rather than go out alone, the travelers said they still
see business travel as an opportunity to explore the world.
Opportunities to network with colleagues in the are a
welcome way to get out of that hotel room, she said.
“This is where we can use the power of social media in
a good way,” Kuhn said. “My five years living in Asia were the best
in my career. I learned every day, but I did it with friends and
Ultimately, however, Shaibu said she’d like to see more
spaces catering to women travelers so they can explore regardless of their work
“There aren’t enough spaces that women actually own and
can help dominate,” Shaibu said. “In an ideal world, we should feel
safe enough to walk down the streets wherever we are.”
Besides her own research, Shaibu said she still always takes
the extra step of making sure a loved one—her mother or her partner for
example—always are fully aware of her itinerary. That further underscores the
importance of a well-managed travel program, Kuhn said.
“Not only do you want your mother and partner to know,
you want all of that information within your travel program,” she said.
“It’s why all this stuff we’ve been talking about the last 30 years is
SOUTHLAKE, Texas, June 15, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Sabre Corporation (NASDAQ: SABR), a leading software and technology provider that powers the global travel industry, has partnered with travel risk management platform GOPASS Global to help deliver its game-changing COVID-19 biosecurity risk analytics capabilities to the travel industry.
GOPASS Global solutions support both corporate and leisure travelers to recommence travel with confidence through the use of advanced analytics to deliver a single view of all the biosecurity risk elements of a trip. Joining the Sabre Developer Partner platform will help GOPASS Global to further improve its competitive position in the global travel marketplace, while further expanding Sabre’s innovative open platform, which sits at the intersection of supply and demand.
GOPASS travel risk management capabilities are now available to travel agents across the globe. By integrating with Sabre’s shopping APIs, GOPASS populates a quantifiable risk score onto each travel option and displays the information to agents, who are then able to better advise their customers.
“For the travel industry to open up, recover and grow, it is vital that we are able to reduce and mitigate the risk of travel so we can instill renewed confidence in travel for both the leisure and corporate traveler,” said Mark Radford, CEO, GOPASS Global. “It’s clear leisure travelers want to know about potential travel risks so they can avoid or mitigate them. But this is especially critical for corporate travel as we learn to live with this pandemic. Companies need to ensure they are taking their duty of care to employees seriously when it comes to travel. It’s essential, therefore that travel agents, and ultimately travelers, have all of the critical information they need at their fingertips when planning their trip to make the decisions that are right for them.”
Powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence, GOPASS Travel Risk Optimizer provides travelers with an end-to-end analysis of all aspects of travel and their risk exposure in the cycle of travel, including arrival and exit restrictions, flight routes and transit, airports, airline and aircraft type, seat class and travel advisories. GOPASS Global data also looks at country conditions such as infection rates, government policies and data reliability. Putting this all together, agents can obtain a risk score out of ten per flight itinerary, enabling them to clearly identify the lowest risk rates overall.
“Sabre’s vast portfolio of services allows Developer Partners to create value across the entire traveler journey; from inspiration, and shopping to post booking so we’re thrilled to be supporting GOPASS Global as one of Sabre’s approved developer partners,” said Marcos Pinedo, vice president, partner solutions for Sabre Travel Solutions. “GOPASS Global helps to simplify and shorten the shopping and booking workflow for agents by providing all information required at shopping time, helping them to be true travel experts for their customers and enabling travelers to recommence travel with confidence. Our new partnership with GOPASS Global is also a testament to Sabre’s ongoing commitment to breaking down walls in the travel technology industry at a time when collaboration is more important than ever.”
About Sabre Corporation
Sabre Corporation is a leading software and technology company that powers the global travel industry, serving a wide range of travel companies including airlines, hoteliers, travel agencies and other suppliers. The company provides retailing, distribution and fulfilment solutions that help its customers operate more efficiently, drive revenue and offer personalized traveler experiences. Through its leading travel marketplace, Sabre connects travel suppliers with buyers from around the globe. Sabre’s technology platform manages more than $260B worth of global travel spend annually. Headquartered in Southlake, Texas, USA, Sabre serves customers in more than 160 countries around the world. For more information visit www.sabre.com.
GOPASS Global is a travel risk management platform that uses advanced analytics to manage corporate travel duty of care in a COVID-impacted world. The platform provides an end-to-end view of all the aspects of an employee’s travel and their risk of exposure in the cycle of travel. Aggregating real-time data from different reliable data sources, GOPASS Global has developed the ability to create an objective and quantifiable risk score that summarizes the biosecurity risk associated with all primary aspects of the customer’s itinerary, including country of origin, destination and any stops, airline and even aircraft type.
GOPASS Global Communications
Telephone: +852 9023 0983
So many of us are vaccinated and anxious to get away after a year of pandemic lockdowns.
Travel options outside the U.S. are still limited due to COVID-19 restrictions, but if you are planning to leave the country, realize the risks. Another country’s rules could leave you trapped in paradise.
“My husband and I are both fully vaccinated and we planned this wonderful week in Bermuda,” said NBC10 Boston producer Mimi Segel.
She and her husband arrived in Bermuda April 3, but ended up staying a lot longer than they planned to.
“We chose Bermuda because they do have such serious protocols in place to deal with COVID, we felt safe coming here,” said Segel. “But I never imagined that as someone who was fully vaccinated with two plus weeks after that last shot, that I would ever test positive for COVID.”
Bermuda requires that visitors are tested for coronavirus before they arrive, the day of arrival and again on Day 4 of their visit. Segel’s Day 4 test came back positive, her husband’s negative, and that landed them in a mandated 14-day quarantine in their hotel room.
“The general manager of our hotel went to the grocery store for us … and we have Cheerios and Special K and bananas,” said Segel. “And we are eating that for breakfast and lunch and getting food from the hotel for dinner.”
The Segels, who did not become sick or symptomatic, say they were lucky they had a balcony view and that they could work remotely from the hotel, but they weren’t prepared for an extended stay.
“We ended up having to have some prescriptions Federal-Expressed to us, and that has to clear customs, and there are a lot of logistics that we’re doing during a global pandemic in a foreign country,” said Segel.
According to CDC requirements, you can’t board a flight back to the U.S. from any international destination without testing negative for COVID-19 in the days before your departure, and a positive test means you’re stuck.
“Most of the hotels have a separate area for the COVID-positive people,” said Suzanne Bowering of Holiday Travel in Wakefield, Massachusetts. “And then you’re in your room for the duration, for the 10 to 14 days. You’re not out on the golf course, you’re not out at the pool, you’re in your room.”
If your destination offers it, Bowering recommends purchasing COVID insurance, which covers quarantine costs. If not, you should have travel insurance.
“Check your policy see what’s covered, what would be out of pocket,” said Bowering. “And prepare for the worst case scenario. Bring something to do, bring a book, bring a laptop, pack your medications, just make sure everything is taken care of at home.”
Segel bought trip insurance, which covered part of their expenses. She thinks purchasing COVID insurance would be an investment worth making.
“The hotel is being lovely and generous and cutting us a COVID break,” she said. “But it is still not how we would have planned to spend this money.”
Some other things to consider – would you be able to miss work for another two weeks if you can’t make it home? What about your kids and pets at home? And in addition to medications, you might want to pack your work laptop and some laundry detergent in case you end up washing your clothes in the hotel sink.
How safe — or risky — is it to fly?
Should I cancel a trip I’ve planned?
Can I come home early from my trip?
These are some of the questions that would-be travelers are asking in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. We talked to travel and health specialists to get answers.
Can I cancel a trip I’ve booked because I’m afraid of the coronavirus?
Depends on whether you bought a refundable ticket or have the right kind of travel insurance. Regular travel insurance won’t cover a cancellation because of fears about the coronavirus outbreak. For that, you need to buy a “Cancel for Any Reason” (CFAR) policy.
“They’ve become quite popular in the last few weeks,” says Jonathan Breeze, CEO of AardvarkCompare, a travel insurance comparison website. “We’re seeing about a 50% increase in the amount of policies being sold.”
A few things to note: A CFAR policy typically needs to be purchased within a couple of weeks from the time you booked your trip, it will usually only cover about 75% of your costs, and New York state does not allow residents to buy CFAR policies.
In addition, some credit cards have automatic travel insurance for trips purchased by their cardholders. Check with your provider to see whether you would be covered.
How do I pick a travel insurance policy?
There is no one-size-fits-all policy, according to Christopher Elliott, founder of a consumer advocacy organization, Elliott Advocacy. Factors such as your age, the length of your trip and what you want covered all figure into the decision. Elliott recommends reading the insurance contract before buying to check whether it applies to “worst-case scenarios,” such as sickness or flight delays. See this column for more advice.
What if I booked a flight and want to reschedule it to avoid traveling during the outbreak?
Several airlines — including American, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue and United — have been waiving change fees for flights purchased between certain dates. And even if your purchase falls outside that window, “it’s always worth asking,” says Seth Kaplan, transportation analyst for WBUR’s Here & Now. “You’re asking for an exception,” he says — but if you’re polite and explain your situation, you might get a break.
What if I want to end my trip early, say, because the outbreak has spread to a country I’m visiting?
In most cases, “somebody abroad saying, ‘I don’t wish to be here anymore,’ isn’t covered by regular travel insurance,” says Breeze. Again, this is where a Cancel for Any Reason policy would come in handy. With many CFAR policies, a traveler can not only recover some of the initial cost of the trip, he says, but in many cases, the policy will also cover the additional cost of coming home.
Is international travel riskier to my health than domestic travel?
It depends. Shira Doron, a hospital epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist at Tufts Medical Center, says she would not recommend traveling to countries that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has put on its “warning” list to avoid nonessential travel, such as China, Iran, Italy and South Korea.
But that doesn’t mean domestic travel is risk-free. To put things in perspective, the virus is here, with case numbers on the rise.
“We already have community transmission within the United States,” says Doron. “So, at some point, it’s not going to be any riskier to go to another country than it is to stay right here.”
Since the virus is already out there, should I avoid plane travel just to be safe? After all, when you fly aren’t you breathing in recycled air?
“The air’s actually pretty clean. It gets recirculated through these HEPA filters that really are very good at clearing stuff out,” says Vicki Hertzberg, director of Emory University’s Center for Nursing Data Science, who co-led a study on flights and disease transmission with scientists at Boeing. “So in some aspects, the air on a plane is cleaner than what’s going on in your new office buildings.”
Moreover, Dr. Mark Gendreau, chief medical officer at Beverly Hospital in Massachusetts, says that airlines have a high incentive to keep their ventilation systems well-maintained: “If the HEPA filter is not changed regularly, if the system is not maintained well, it puts a lot of drag on the engines, which will increase the fuel consumption, which is quite an expensive proposition.”
Another important thing to know: The new coronavirus is not airborne. Instead, it’s transmitted through droplets of fluid or mucus that you cough or sneeze out, which generally don’t travel farther than 6 feet. But if those droplets land on a surface that you later touch, you can pick up the virus that way.
People can help protect themselves and one another by taking precautions such as washing hands frequently, coughing into an elbow and trying not to touch eyes, nose and mouth.
“Good hand hygiene is the solution,” Doron says.
And not just in the bathroom. Even on the way back to your seat after a bathroom visit where you washed your hands, “one may be touching doors, doorknobs, seats,” says Dr. Lin Chen, president of the International Society of Travel Medicine and director of the travel medicine center at Mount Auburn Hospital in Massachusetts. So it’s a good idea to use hand sanitizer at your seat before eating pretzels or sweeping hair from your face.
The CDC says your sanitizer should have at least 60% alcohol content.
How clean are planes anyway?
Airline sanitization is also something to consider. Some airlines are stepping up their cleaning game. American Airlines says it is conducting a “more thorough cleaning of all hard surfaces” and removing self-serve snack baskets on some international flights. Alaska Airlines says that, since March 2, it has been “enhancing” aircraft cleaning between flights. For planes whose schedules allow, the cleaning policy now includes seats, overhead air vents, bathroom door handles, window shades and luggage compartment handles.
Flights often turn around quickly, which could lead to possible lapses in the cleaning process, so Chen suggests bringing alcohol wipes to clean the areas you personally touch — including your seat belt, tray table and armrests. In a pinch, squeezing hand sanitizer onto a tissue and wiping down your armrest would probably work, she says.
“We really don’t have data about how long the coronavirus survives on surfaces,” Chen says. Other coronaviruses can last for a few hours or a few days on different materials, so for the time being, “it’s best to be more cautious,” she says.
“In the past, we had weather delays, natural disasters and terrorism,” said Cardinal Health global security travel manager Jill Huffman. “We still have all that, but now you have to layer the pandemic on top. It introduces a lot of details. We have to work with much more complexity.”
That complexity—and the risks that accompany it—will be the core story for travel management throughout 2021. And as more travelers, business and leisure, hit the road this year, risk for all will rise with it. Yes, risk of Covid-19 transmission. But other risks, as well, have emerged as a consequence of Covid-19 restrictions and lockdowns, and travel managers will have to reckon with them.
Consensus about rising travel risk has never been higher. About 79 percent of 1,425 risk professionals surveyed by International SOS in September and October said risk for business travelers will rise in 2021. Travel managers are aware of the increased risk, Huffman said, and many of their travelers are too.
More Travel, More Risk
The rise in traveler volume will precipitate the risk of Covid-19 transmission, especially considering the spectrum of virus variants emerging alongside different levels of vaccine distribution around the globe, said Crisis24 SVP of global intelligence and information Mike Susong. Additionally in question is vaccine effectiveness against new variants in real-world conditions, he said, and how that may play out as travel activity becomes more robust.
Sporadic border openings and a sprawling web of country-by-country entry restrictions will complicate international travel throughout 2021.
Huffman cited visa approvals for international travel, which now can take up to three months instead of two weeks, along with additional documentation and business justification just to take a flight. And that doesn’t include Covid-19 testing or quarantine requirements. The Cardinal travel team now works more with government relations than any other department, said Huffman.
One international Cardinal traveler in early February who took a flight with a connection stop, Huffman said, “will literally have to go through six [Covid] tests [to complete] the roundtrip.” The traveler had to take a test before he departed and in the connecting country, and another when he arrived at his destination airport, she said. He will have to repeat the process when he returns.
It’s Not Like It Used to Be
Once at their destination, business travelers may walk into a dramatically different experience even in familiar locations, said International SOS director of security solutions Jeremy Prout.
“The low-risk neighborhood I went into 2019 may not be a low-risk neighborhood in 2021,” he said. “Restaurant activity and people openly walking around at night brings about a level of safety. Now, all those people [aren’t] out, so the dynamics of the neighborhoods have changed.”
Prout pointed to increased street crime in historically touristy locations as one consequence of social restrictions precipitated by Covid-19. But he also pointed to an increased likelihood of civil unrest or violence. Lockdown protests in the Netherlands recently turned into a riot, for example. “Emotions are running high,” said Prout. Civil unrest “is something to keep an eye on.”
Border restrictions not only present increased logistics and upfront risk but also may present challenges should other crises occur, according to International SOS. In the event of an earthquake, terrorist activity or civil unrest, a traveler might need to be moved quickly to a third country prior to completing the journey home. Border restrictions could complicate that emergency response. “If you need an evacuation, it could be more difficult,” said Prout. “There will have to be a greater level of preplanning and monitoring than we previously had.”
Every Step of the Way
Cardinal Health moved its travel management beneath a security umbrella four years ago. It’s a unique structure that has created more robust protocols and a higher expectation of traveler compliance. In return, the program supports travelers through every step of the journey and, in the era of Covid-19, has safeguards adapted to each destination.
“If a traveler tests positive, we make sure they have somewhere to go,” Huffman said. “Even in Singapore, you have to have transportation ready at the airport to take them to quarantine. Because we have been dealing with Covid-19 for 10 months, we kind of know the foundations of what is needed and how to align them along the gaps as situations change.”
Cardinal also monitors traveler whereabouts. “We have a system that tells exactly us where people are at all times,” Huffman said. She works with Cardinal’s internal security operations center to alert and connect with travelers amid emergencies.
Even this may not be quite enough to get travelers confidently out on the road, though. With travel restrictions inconsistent and unclear, providing timely, accurate information is essential—and not just information that affects the traveler, according to Prout.
Travelers are going to ask questions that are specific to their personal situation. Questions like, “What will this mean for my family?” said Prout. “There are so many impacts that exist now that didn’t exist before. People need answers to these questions if you want to get them back on the road.”
Huffman has received questions from travelers. They are feeling the elevated risk levels that risk professionals are actively tracking. “I’ve already seen that uptick more than we ever have in the past,” she said.
To help, “Cardinal Health provides an internal microsite for travelers to give [travelers] all the information they need. Information on anything they need globally is updated,” Huffman said. “Right before the trip, if there’s anything that was changed, we’ll pick up the phone and call them. That awareness helps them know they are being taken care of.”
Riskline reveals top travel risks for 2021 | TravelDailyNews International Travel Daily News International