How Will the US Hotel Experience Change Post COVID-19?

As hotel occupancy ticks up ever so slightly, the lodging industry is putting new standards in place to enhance cleaning and ensure guest safety.

One organization working overtime to make sure that these new measures are clear and communicated effectively to the public is the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA), which has created Safe Stay guidelines for the industry.

“Safe Stay was developed specifically to ensure enhanced safety for hotels guests and employees. While hotels have always employed demanding cleaning standards, this new initiative will ensure greater transparency and confidence throughout the entire hotel experience,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA. “The industry’s enhanced hotel cleaning practices, social interactions, and workplace protocols will continue to evolve to meet the new health and safety challenges and expectations presented by COVID-19.”

Travelers in states where shelter in place and stay at home orders have been lifted may be looking to travel and stay in a hotel soon. What will that look like in the “new normal?”

Hygiene will be the number one priority. The Safe Stay guidelines promote frequent handwashing for employees, hand sanitizer dispensers, signage, instructions for mask-wearing and more.

Major hotel brands have launched their own programs, too, partnering with brands such as Clorox and Lysol and the Mayo Clinic.

Hilton CleanStay was launched in partnership with the makers of Lysol as well as the Mayo Clinic. Marriott announced a Global Cleanliness Council, a panel of experts on everything from food and water safety, infection prevention and hygiene, and hotel operations.

Visitors will have a much more contact-less experience when they visit properties while maintaining social distancing guidelines and new standards of cleanliness.

Hilton will have a CleanStay room seal on guestroom doors and guests will no longer find shared amenities such as pens and paper in the room and room directories will be made digital.

Travelers are also likely to find keyless entry to rooms and disinfecting wipes for touching elevator buttons. Room service menus and ordering will likely be done on mobile apps.

Guests should also arrive expecting to self park their vehicles. Resorts such as Omni have limited valet services and instituted social distancing protocols where self-parking is unavailable.

There will also be limits on the number of people allowed to congregate in different areas with limited seating in lobbies, bars and restaurants in order to observe social distancing guidelines. The days of buffet dining may also be a thing of the past. AHLA guidelines say that room service should use contactless delivery and that buffets should be limited and served by an attendant in personal protective equipment. Pre-packaged and grab and go options are encouraged.

Guests may have to plan out their visits to the gym. Expect fitness centers to close multiple times per day for cleaning as well as socially distanced pool areas with lounge chairs six feet apart.

Behind the scenes there will be new cleaning technologies utilized.

One example is Marriott’s deployment of electrostatic sprayers and the use of the highest-grade disinfectant products. Electrostatic cleaning really gives a deep clean to surfaces, the spraying is a method where a device is used to apply an electric charge to a disinfectant, enabling the disinfectant to more effectively cover a surface than traditional cleaning methods.

One of the aspects of hotel stays that remains unknown is how many properties will institute temperature checks but travelers should expect the practice may become quite common.

The Venetian in Las Vegas said that it will use thermal scanners at entry points for a non-invasive temperature check.

Many properties will screen the health of their employees and include temperature checks.

Caesars Entertainment said that it will institute health screenings for all employees that include taking temperatures and COVID-19 testing.

While most hotel guidelines call for near-constant cleaning and disinfecting, travelers can also do their part.

Hand washing and the use of hand sanitizer should be frequent when traveling. Many properties plan to provide face masks and disinfectant wipes, but it doesn’t hurt to bring your own and wipe down surfaces, doorknobs and buttons.

Wearing a face mask is also recommended to protect both you and those around you.

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Abu Dhabi Launches the Region’s First Safe and Clean Certification Program for Tourism Sector

WHY IT RATES: Abu Dhabi is preparing to cautiously welcome visitors again soon. —Codie Liermann, Associate Editor

The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) today announced the launch of a safe and clean certification program – a first of its kind in the region, and one which seeks to uplift and standardize the cleanliness and hygiene levels across all businesses and organizations in the tourism sector.

As hotels, malls and other attractions in Abu Dhabi prepare to cautiously re-welcome guests to their venues, DCT Abu Dhabi aims to safeguard the health and wellbeing of consumers by offering certifications that ensure the compliance of standardized hygiene levels in tourism destinations and industry businesses within the emirate.

“Our priority is to ensure that our residents and visitors feel safe and comfortable in Abu Dhabi,” said HE Ali Hassan Al Shaiba, Executive Director of Tourism and Marketing at DCT Abu Dhabi, “and as hygiene and cleanliness have risen to become vital factors considered by all individuals today, we believe that it is imperative for all institutions and businesses to elevate and then maintain hygiene standards. As the leaders in tourism, our role is to pave the way for industry players and set standards that suit our consumers. Through this tourism board led program, we hope to boost the confidence of consumers when considering Abu Dhabi as a tourism destination. Our dedicated team has been working closely with different stakeholders to ensure that this program considers all elements of health and safety and we encourage all hotels and industry partners to attain the certificate.”

The latest initiative from DCT Abu Dhabi comes as part of the organization’s commitment to ensuring the health and safety of its residents and visitors, as well as its response to the change in consumer trends, behaviors and expectations as a result of COVID-19.

The pandemic has called for many different hygiene measures across the globe, with governments rolling out a series of disinfection programs to ensure the safety of the public. In late March, the UAE launched the National Disinfection Program as part of the preventative and precautionary measures taken by the UAE to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The country was highly praised for its excellent intervention measures globally, which included health, hygiene and safety regulations as well as other supportive schemes which consider the economic impact of COVID-19.

The certification program was developed in partnership with a leading world developer and will be rolled out in phases. Phase one will be dedicated to hotels in Abu Dhabi, with other tourism attractions and businesses to follow. Interested organizations are strongly urged to follow DCT Abu Dhabi’s social media channels and website for updates regarding the program.

SOURCE: Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi press release.

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What Will the Future of Business Travel Look Like Post COVID-19?

The coronavirus pandemic has driven business travel to a halt, but what will it look like when workers hit the road again?

A late April study from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) found optimism about a return.

“The global business travel industry remains at a standstill, but we are finally beginning to see some light at the end of this very long tunnel,” said Scott Solombrino, GBTA CEO. “GBTA members are planning their post-coronavirus recovery plans and most expect to be operational in 2020. This is a positive sign. The majority of GBTA member companies expect domestic business travel to resume in the next two to three months and most expect employees will be willing to travel. We have waited a long time for there to be optimism around the pandemic in our industry, and it should continue to grow as we get closer to halting the spread of this disease.”

While many see business travel resuming before year’s end, it’s unclear what shape that may take. One important aspect is how comfortable workers will feel about traveling.

In the latest wave of MMGY’s Travel Intentions Pulse Survey (TIPS), there was the slightest uptick in the number of travelers who felt safer about attending off-site business meetings.

In March, 16 percent of respondents felt safer, but in early April that dipped to 11 percent. However, in its latest wave of the survey ending on April 24, that number ticked back up to 17 percent.

GBTA found that a number of benchmarks need to be met before travelers feel comfortable traveling for work once again.

Ninety-two percent said that they needed to see a decline in new infection rates, and 91 percent said that governments needed to lift travel restrictions or advisories. Ninety percent noted they would need to see guidelines or statements from public health agencies such as the WHO or CDC and eighty-nine percent said there needed to be effective anti-viral treatments.

Many business travelers noted that stay-at-home orders would need to be removed before they would participate in business travel and that they would want a vaccine.

However, like leisure travel, business travelers are looking forward to getting back on the road. Twenty-six percent said they were eager to travel again for business in the early April TIPS survey and more, 28 percent, replied the same in the latest wave of the survey.

A major hurdle for getting business travelers back on the road is getting people to feel comfortable again in more crowded spaces such as on airplanes and in airports.

Already, airlines such as American, Delta, Lufthansa and United are blocking middle seats to create more distance. Airports could institute new measures such as temperature checks in the future, as well.

There will also be a lot of promotion and reassurance of customers regarding cleanliness. Hotels are already rapidly updating and promoting new policies on cleaning and disinfecting spaces.

The American Hotel & Lodging Association is working on new health and safety standards. “Safe Stay” measures include guest health protocols, employee responsibilities, cleaning guidelines and social distancing requirements. In addition, the rules will be updated in accordance with all federal, state and local laws.

“Hospitality at its core is an industry of people taking care of people,” AHLA CEO Chip Rogers said in a statement. “The safety of our guests and employees has always been our number one priority. Now as we work to reopen our nation’s economy, we want to ensure travelers that hotels will be cleaner and safer than ever before when they are ready to resume traveling once again.”

While many people have been connecting via Zoom, WebEx and GoToMeeting, experts say that face-to-face meetings will not disappear altogether, necessitating business travel in the future.

“People will still need to network, learn, build relationships,” Evan Konwiser, executive vice president of product and strategy for American Express Global Business Travel told the New York Times. “None of this will change. There will probably be less density and more hand sanitizer.”

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Is Now the Time to Install New Hotel Panic-Button Technology?

Hospitality industry players are beginning to roll out many new health and safety measures to contend with COVID-19 transmission concerns, and, while prioritizing the implementation of preventive measures is important, some hotels are also taking this time to reevaluate their level of preparedness to react to on-site emergencies once already in progress.

According to React Mobile, a market-leading hospitality safety technology provider, its client companies (consisting of some of the world’s leading hospitality brands) have realized the value in providing hotel employees ready means by which to request immediate assistance within mere seconds of an incident.

From alerting management to unforeseen medical emergencies to witnessed security breaches or assaults on individuals, React Mobile’s personal panic-button devices are proving the most effective and instantaneous way of calling for help. And, being cloud-based without requiring hardware or cabling, they can be installed quickly, at minimal cost and customized to fit the needs of any property.

Using the latest Bluetooth, GPS and IoT technology, React Mobile’s platform can pinpoint the location of a distress call down to the specific room number, and even to track an employee in real-time who may be on the move away from danger, indoors or out. In an emergency situation, response time is critical, and the ability to deploy resources to the exact location of a distress signal within seconds can make all the difference.

React Mobile’s worldwide support capabilities, 24/7 accessibility, and impressive implementation infrastructure have made it a leader in providing cutting-edge employee safety solutions. It’s now the preferred panic-button vendor for Hilton Worldwide, Accor Hotels, Wyndham, Choice Hotels, Caesars Entertainment, Sands and other leading hotel management companies.

Robb Monkman, Founder and CEO of React Mobile, was compelled to launch the company after having himself been the victim of an armed robbery and hostage situation. After discovering that thousands of people daily found themselves desperately in need of help, but unable to make a call, he set out to develop a powerful, yet simple, solution.

Our employee safety technology is deployed in over 460+ hotel properties and totaling over 50,000+ panic buttons.

Learn more about our support for hotels here: https://t.co/lvLAaOAgP9#hotel #hospitality #Safety #technology #panicbutton pic.twitter.com/d544nskP2j

Monkman thinks that the pandemic’s effect on the hospitality industry could offer at least one small advantage. He posited, “As hotel occupancy dwindles around the globe, properties can tackle projects that are easier to accomplish with low occupancy,” including, “installing much-needed technology updates, such as employee safety devices. The implementation of a new platform (or in some cases, a total technological overhaul) is often time-consuming, and the training of staff can pose a potential disruption to hotel operations. Understandably, this means that ‘high-season’ typically isn’t the best time to approach any major renovations, whether technical or property-specific. And so, an opportunity presents itself.”

He argued that hospitality companies might make productive use of their downtime (just as we’re trying to do while locked-down at home) to future-proof their businesses in a variety of ways, such as performing maintenance and repairs; updating staff training and resources; reformatting operations; developing new offerings; readying marketing initiatives; or switching their systems over to updated, improved software, so that they can hit the ground running when demand does resume.

“Ultimately, those brands which utilize this time to proactively improve upon their offering, support their community and emerge a market leader are sure to make a swift recovery,” predicted Monkman.

For more information, visit reactmobile.com.

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Scenic Group Looks to the Future as Construction Begins on Eclipse II in Croatia

The Scenic Group has started building its second ocean ship. Steel-cutting is taking place on Croatia on the 228-passenger, luxury mega-yacht Scenic Eclipse II.

The first ocean ship, Scenic Eclipse, was christened on Sept. 10, 2019, by Dame Helen Mirren. The ship accommodates 200 passengers when sailing in polar regions. It has all verandah suites, 10 dining experiences, butler service for all guests, two onboard six-guest helicopters, and a six-guest submarine capable of diving nearly 1,000 feet.

A newly formed company, MKM Yachts, wholly owned by the Scenic Group, will now take full responsibility for all new ocean ship builds starting with the Scenic Eclipse II.

MKM Yachts confirmed an agreement with the Croatian government to begin shipbuilding operations in a dedicated section of the Maj 3 Shipyard in Rijeka.

“This outcome has been the result of a massive effort by our entire Croatian team, and in particular, our new managing director of MKM Yachts, Sasa Cokljat,” said Glen Moroney, owner and chairman of The Scenic Group. “The Croatian government has committed to supporting the redevelopment of the shipyard and assist in the funding of our new building program, which will comprise five custom-built vessels over the next six years. All vessels will be of the highest six-star standard with the ability to navigate the polar regions.”

The start of construction “heralds an exciting new era for the Scenic Group, as we continue to develop our luxury ocean products under both Scenic and Emerald Cruises brands,” Moroney said.

Scenic Eclipse has the highest Polar Class 6 rating and uses custom-built stabilizers that are 50 percent larger than those of other ships to provide greater stability. The GPS dynamic positioning allows the ship to maintain location without dropping anchor onto sensitive water beds. The Advanced Wastewater Treatment Systems, plus the highly efficient engines, will reduce emissions, noise and vibrations, for minimal disturbances to the marine life environment.

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Atlantis, The Palm reopens opens select restaurants, retail outlets

Nobu, Hakkasan, Bread Street Kitchen & Bar and Seafire Steakhouse & Bar will offer a daily dinner service

Atlantis, The Palm has partially reopened daily dinner services at select restaurants as, well as some retail outlets in The Avenues.

Four restaurants at Atlantis, The Palm will reopen for dining – Bread Street Kitchen & Bar (12.00pm-9.00pm) and dinner at Nobu (6.00pm-9.00pm), dinner at Hakkasan (6.00pm-9.00pm) and at Seafire Steakhouse & Bar (5.00pm-9.00pm).

As space will be restricted to 30% of dining capacity – in line with the Dubai Government’s decision – guests are advised to book before arriving to the resort. Atlantis, The Palm said there will be a minimum of two-metres between diners, with increased in cleaner staffing numbers for public areas.

Access to the restaurants and retail outlets will be through The Avenues entrance only, enabling them to “self-park” upon arrival.

Timothy Kelly, executive vice president and managing director, Atlantis Dubai, said the resort has “collaborated with the relevant authorities to ensure we maintain the highest level of precautionary health and safety measures, in addition to their standard hygiene cleaning practices”.

“We will open further outlets and attractions such as Atlantis, Aquaventure once we have the greenlight to do so,” he said.

ShuiQi spa will also be partially open for hair and nail appointments only, with access via the West Tower for guests with salon bookings.

Arabian Business magazine: Read the latest edition online

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Discover the 5 best wines in Provence – A Luxury Travel Blog

Let me take you on a journey. It’s a COVID-19 era trip without flights, trains, suitcases or hotel rooms. And with travel banned, rather than a passport, you’ll need just a glass of wine and a little imagination to hop over borders.

The French speak of tipicité and terroir. By this they mean that a well-made, carefully crafted wine should speak (sing even) of the region in which it was made. If you are one of the many ruing a cancelled trip to Provence or planning a future one, then head to your nearest wine merchant (on-line if you are not allowed out) and ask for any of the following wines.

They number among the finest in Provence and include a bottle of red, dubbed the Petrus of Provence and of course the region’s most iconic rosé. Uncork the wine well in advance, select your best glass, find a comfortable chair, pour, lean back and relax. Take your time and inhale the sticky scents of the garrigue, wild thyme and rosemary, pines oozing amber sap, and the cooling minerality of the fierce mistral. Taste the beating sun in the spicy ripe summer fruits, with their overtones of tobacco and comforting oak. Close your eyes after every sip and picture yourself in Provence.

Domaine Tempier, Bandol, red

Bandol reds are among the most sought-after wines in Provence. The vines of the appellation are planted in a sun-drenched valley behind the busy Mediterranean port of Bandol. There are numerous producers but the reference for the region remains Domaine Tempier, which produces one of the finest reds in Provence.

Bandol red ages and improves for up to twenty years. Over time the tannins grow progressively rounder and wonderful smoky notes evolve. 2015 Bandols (the last exceptional vintage in Provence) are currently drinking beautifully. Domaine Tempier itself is an unprepossessing place. An old farmhouse sits at the end of a line of plane trees. There’s no pomp or ceremony just a simple tasting room in a converted annex. Visiting is a wonderfully low-key affair, and this allows the wine to do the talking. Lucky tasters may be offered the opportunity to sample a flight of Tempier reds going back twenty years or so.

Chateau Vignelaure, Aix en Provence, rouge

The Chateau claims it is the jewel in the crown of the Coteaux d’Aix en Provence. The renowned American wine critic Robert Parker once commented that the Chateau was “one of the showpiece properties of not only Provence, but also France”. All this fuss stems from the uniqueness of the wine. Back in the 1960s George Brunet grafted from Cabernet Sauvignon vines which were used to produce the classed Bordeaux Chateau Lagune.

Much to the scepticism of the wine establishment at the time, he planted outside Aix en Provence, with the stated aim of making a wine in the Bordeaux fashion. Locals laughed as they knocked back the pastis and gossiped about the folly of the owner. They all agreed that the heat of the south of France would be too much for the Cabernet Sauvignon grape, predicting an explosion of sugars and a highly alcoholic undrinkable wine. However, today, Chateau Vignelaure reds top Provencal wine lists. They age for 20 years just like fine Bordeaux and if you shut your eyes as you drink it is possible to believe you are on the banks of the Garonne. When travel re-opens make a point of visiting the cellars which extend over 5 subterranean levels. As well as the thousands of bottles of wine, there is an art gallery.

Domaine du Paternel, Cassis, white

Seek out a bottle of Domaine du Paternel, and let your imagination take you to the sunny Mediterranean. In Cassis, pastel coloured houses line the port side and cafes bustle as chefs prepare the local speciality – bouillabaisse fish soup. A crescent of hills holds the town in a sheltered embrace, and on the sun-burnished slopes above the port, vineyards produce Provence’s finest whites. The wine is so popular it frequently sells out by the end of the summer. Even sniffy Parisian restaurants will find room for Cassis white on their Carte du Vin. A bottle of Domaine du Paternel, the appellation’s signature vineyard, is the perfect accompaniment to any seafood. Buttery in colour it offers a wonderful minerality which rolls across the palate as you taste. The wine stands up to the saltiness of oysters, just as well as it accompanies the softer flavours of a grilled sole.

Domaine Ott, Chateau Romassan, Bandol, rosé

Before Whispering Angel came along Domaine Ott was the go-to rosé of Provence. Slightly deeper in colour than the young usurper, it has a fuller flavour and is a better accompaniment to meals. Pair it with a barbecue or some Thai food to discover the wonderful depth and fruity notes of this stand out Provencal rosé. It is made (predominately) with the Mourvedre grape, which so distinguishes the reds and rosés of Bandol. The wine arrives in a beautifully shaped bottle, tucked in at the waist like coca-cola bottles, and with curves in all right the places. Back in the naughty nineties Kate Moss was papped, topless, sashaying along the beach in Saint Tropez with the distinctive bottle poking from her bag. Sales of pale rosé took off and have not looked back since.

Domaine Milan, Saint Remy de Provence, Le Jardin, rouge

One for the purists because Domaine Milan is a natural wine producer. Not only are chemicals not used in the fields (this earns you the title organic wine in France) but also there are no chemicals used in the fermentation of the wine. It is old fashioned wine making and a horse tills the soil between the rows of vines. Dubbed the Petrus of Provence, Le Jardin, shares the same soil (blue clay) and Merlot grape as, Petrus, its more well-known Bordeaux cousin. The wine always sells out and owner Henri Milan makes it a rule to increase the price every year with the aim of matching Petrus. A nice marketing quirk is that your personal price is locked in for life when you purchase your first bottle.

Jamie Ivey is the Founder of Provence Small Group Tours. Provence Small Group Tours is a boutique travel agency offering luxury small group tours of Provence.

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Alaska Now Boasts the World’s Busiest Airport Amid COVID-19

The Telegraph revealed today that Ted Stevens Anchorage Airport (ANC), in Alaska’s largest city, emerged as the world’s single busiest airport in terms of aircraft operations during this past week of April 27, 2020.

This rather remote outpost in America’s 49th state hasn’t risen in the ranks due to increased passenger movements, but because, amid the Coronavirus pandemic, most of the planes that are still flying are transporting goods.

Though passenger air-travel demand has dwindled down to virtually nil, air cargo is among the few sectors that haven’t been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. According to the airport’s Twitter profile, ANC is the self-proclaimed “Center of the Air Cargo World”, being positioned within under nine-and-a-half hours by air from 90 percent of the so-called “industrial world”.

Even prior to the pandemic, ANC ranked as the world’s busiest seaplane hub and is consistently listed among the world’s top five hubs for cargo flights, with around 2.7 million tons of cargo landed at its airfield annually. The top routes going in and out of Anchorage—nestled into the coast on the Gulf of Alaska—include Los Angeles, Chicago and Hong Kong, which usually takes the title of world’s busiest air cargo center.

“On Saturday, ANC was the world’s busiest airport for aircraft operations,” ANC wrote in a tweet. “This points to how significantly the global aviation system has changed and highlights the significance of our role in the global economy and fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.”

On Saturday, ANC was the world’s busiest airport for aircraft operations. This points to how significantly the global aviation system has changed and highlights the significance of our role in the global economy and fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. pic.twitter.com/z34ZmjoaKL

CEO of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Alexandre de Juniac, reportedly said earlier this week that cargo is the “bright spot for the industry because it is the only part that is operating and earning revenue at any scale”.

Based on data from FlightRadar24.com, which monitors real-time global air traffic, The Telegraph reported that many of the world’s remaining flights belong to freight operators like FedEx, UPS and DHL, or the cargo divisions of such airlines as Qatar and Emirates.

For more information, visit anchorageairport.com.

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COVID-19’s Impact on the Ski Industry

The lack of business at numerous ski resorts worldwide that have shut down amid the COVID-19 pandemic has given Oxford Ski time to look at how much the coronavirus may cause the ski industry and figure out what is being done to help.

An average year would see 38 percent (132 million people) of all skiing bookings after late February, generating over $189 billion of revenue for the ski industry and its suppliers, including airlines, transfer services and food and drink vendors. The closure of ski resorts around the world will cause the industry to see an estimated 38 percent loss of revenue as a result.


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“The COVID-19 virus is not something many would have expected coming into 2020,” Oxford Ski founder Rupert Longsdon said in a statement. “While we are doing everything we can to talk to resorts and other suppliers, we believe that as an industry we must come together and help consumers as best as we can, providing clear and concise information to those with bookings.”

Additionally, ski resorts along the Alps have lost an estimated $82 billion. It is predicted that that ski accommodation companies in the Alps will lose $35 billion in revenue.

Nevertheless, experts at Tourism Economics expect the entire travel industry to recover by 2023. Workers in the ski industry are hopeful that the industry will recover ever sooner, as bookings continue to come in for the 2020-21 winter season.

Much like airlines, the ski industry has requested both government and consumer help to stay afloat during the pandemic. In the UK, for example, the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) has asked for government aid to provide refunds for those who have booked a package. Meanwhile, travel companies are asking consumers to be patient and possibly speak with their travel companies to arrange credit for their bookings or change to an alternative date.

“We would advise all customers with bookings for the rest of this season to talk to their travel insurance, tour, accommodation and airline operators, to get up to date information and support as to the status of their bookings and policies on refunds, credit and alternative date,” said Longdon. “Those with bookings are advised to print, read and retain their insurance policies carefully.”

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The One Thing Every Airline Needs to Offer Post-Coronavirus

There’s no question that the future of airline travel in the post-coronavirus era is going to evolve.

Already, the spread of COVID-19 has forced numerous procedural changes as carriers tear up their playbook and, pardon the pun, wing it in the face of an unprecedented drop in demand for flights.

Numbers don’t lie. Based on the number of screenings at airports over the last three to four weeks, the Transportation Security Administration has reported an almost 90 percent drop in the number of passengers taking to the air.

So, presuming the virus dissipates over time, what is the one thing every airline needs to do to entice people back into the air?

Well, for starters, let’s say it’s the more immediate thing the industry needs to do.

And that is, it must ensure the public that the cabin is sanitized and there is the ability to maintain some sort of social distancing. The former should not be a problem; the latter will be more difficult.

Airlines have gone to great lengths to change the way they clean and sanitize aircraft, using fogging machines and just plain old-fashioned elbow grease to disinfect a plane. And, frankly, it was long overdue even before the onset of COVID-19.

The tightly confined space of an airplane cabin is a breeding ground for germs, mold and bacteria. If you’ve ever seen a passenger use a tissue and then put it in the seatback pocket, or, worse, change an infant’s diaper on the seat or the tray table, you know what we’re talking about.

It’s likely that the entire world will emerge from this pandemic with a greater view and appreciation for the idea of cleanliness, of washing their hands, of cleaning up their personal space. Nobody is going to get on an airplane, book a hotel room or go on a cruise unless they can be relatively assured their health can be protected. After all, airlines already do inspections of the plane itself right down to every bolt and rivet.

Why wouldn’t they be sure to protect your personal safety inside the plan as well?

Part and parcel of that is social distancing. With the dramatic drop in travel, there have been numerous reports of flights with fewer than 10 passengers on board – some with just one passenger. Keeping fliers six feet from each other right now is fairly easy.

But as the airlines grow smaller – which, admittedly, they say they will – it’s going to be difficult to maintain the practice of social distancing on a full flight. And with fewer flights to choose from, they will be crowded. It would not be surprising to see face masks handed out for every flight as part of a new standard operating procedure.

But there are other things airlines must do as well.

Offering up reduced fares – at least in the beginning when traveling becomes more “normal” again – is certainly a good start. Waiving change fees, or at least reducing them, is an even better option.

It’s doubtful the airlines will ever go to a model of refunding passengers’ money in lieu of credit or vouchers toward future flights (even though the government is forcing them to do so now because of the extraordinary circumstances). But airlines likely need to take that step regarding change fees as a show of good faith.

And in light of that, one more thing airlines need to do: Carriers need to re-embrace the notion of working more closely with travel agents, and so does the general public. There were far too many instances of frustration and anger from fliers who spent hours on the phone to change a ticket or get a refund on their own when their flights were canceled by the virus and restrictions were put in place by the government.

There were success stories, sure. But most of them had a travel agent working in the background.

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