Contemplating traveling in the near future? What can you expect when you venture out to an airport, train station, or hotel? How will the COVID-19 vaccine impact traveler requirements?
In the below Q&A, Marilyn Markham, head of the Salesforce Center of Excellence at American Express Global Business Travel, shares her insights on what you need to consider when traveling during the pandemic and what travel may look like as the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more widely available.
Q. How has travel changed since COVID-19 first began?
Marilyn Markham: What has happened is each of the travel suppliers has taken it upon themselves to try to provide a sense of safety and take measures to protect travelers. From there, what we’ve seen is a lot of cleaning measures. You have probably seen many travel companies, whether they are airlines, trains, or hotels advertising how clean they are. If you have traveled since the beginning of COVID, you will see that a lot of the common spaces have either been shut down to avoid congregating or you have markings on the floor to promote social distancing.
Q. What should I investigate before I leave for my trip?
Marilyn Markham: If you are not informed about the requirements, you might not be able to travel. It’s become as simple as that. Some airlines will not let you travel if you don’t have a mask. Some of them do provide a mask; some do not. You may not even be allowed into the airport or the train station without a mask on. Depending on the country where you are going, they do require various levels of certification, testing, or even downloading of a contact tracing app that you need to be aware of and have to have done before you leave. So definitely get informed. Don’t travel blind and assume the best. Check for everything you usually do as well as the new safety measures.
Q.With COVID-19 vaccinations underway, what immediate impact will that have on domestic and international travel?
Marilyn Markham: There is such a pent-up hunger to go somewhere – anywhere outside their four walls! I believe now it’s going to be a game of restrictions and safety. Qantas already has said it would only allow people to travel who have been vaccinated once the vaccine is widely available. I thought that was really interesting and was wondering who else would go that route? I expect countries will do the same thing. Pre-COVID, traveling to a certain destination, there was already a health requirement that you be vaccinated against a list of different ailments. I expect that coronavirus will just get added to the list for many countries and will become a requirement for entry.
So, it’s important to inform yourself before you go. You can use our Travel Vitals™ search tool, which is available to everybody. It’s simple to use. You can plug in the airline you are using, the car company, the rail company, hit “enter,” and it will give you a full briefing of every touch point – countries, states, suppliers – everything that you need to know!