Travel News Coronavirus travel questions: Your COVID-19 queries answered

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Coronavirus travel questions: Your COVID-19 queries answered

Times are tough for travelers. But with the world preparing to reopen in 2021, we're here to keep you dreaming and planning for your next adventure – whether that's a staycation or flying off to parts unknown. Until then, we've got the latest COVID-19 travel advice and updates to keep you up to date and ready to go.

Is it safe to travel right now? You might be dreaming about your next trip but still have many travel questions on your mind because of coronavirus. To help, Skyscanner’s panel of experts has answered some of the most commonly asked COVID-19 queries. It’s important you have all the information you need to make the right decisions for you.

Is it safe to travel right now: Answers to the top COVID travel questions

Destination inspiration

As a wanderluster, you’re eager to travel. We know! We’ll touch on whether a couple of the most popular destinations are open, as well as sunny locales to consider when you are ready to hit the road again.

Can I travel to Spain?

The land of sun, sea and sangria—and one of the most favorite European vacation destinations for Americans: more than 3 million visited in 2019. While Spain has not opened its border to U.S. citizens yet, we’re monitoring where and when we can travel to Europe again, whether it’s safe to go and what you need to consider if you visit Europe right now.

Are there travel restrictions for France?

If you can’t stop thinking about the City of Lights and glorious French countryside, you’re not the only one. Unfortunately, U.S. citizens are currently restricted from traveling to France unless it’s for an essential reason. Those who can enter for essential travel are subject to screening at the airport and will need to provide a negative COVID-19 test.

Where can I go to find sunshine during COVID?

Check out 11 of the best destinations known for warmer weather or the 7 best places to find the sun in March, featuring top cities and beaches for winter sun in the U.S. and abroad. Plus, the destinations’ average temperatures and where to stay when you arrive.

Is it safe to travel right now? start your coronavirus travel checklist

Can I book multi-destination trip right now?

Whether you’re planning an extended stopover or simply want to experience more on your vacation, there’s nothing stopping travelers from visiting more than one country in a single trip.

Since most countries have moderate restrictions, it’s best to check whether those you plan to visit have a self-quarantine policy for U.S. visitors when they arrive. (Keep in mind that you’ll need to show negative test results taken within the last 72 hours to return to the United States.) If even one of the countries you plan to visit isn’t exempt, then you and anyone you travel with may be required to self-quarantine for up to 14 days.

But is it safe to travel right now? The U.S. State Department has removed its advisory for avoiding all international travel as of August 6, 2020. Check the State Department for a list of travel advisories to the countries you plan to visit. And please ensure you are always checking government guidelines before booking flexible travel.

How do I plan a multi-destination vacation?

There are lots of things to consider when planning a multi-destination vacation during the best of times. With coronavirus, the travel checklist becomes a bit longer. Luckily, our guide to planning a multi-country vacation during COVID-19 explains everything you need to consider before booking.

Again, please make sure you are always checking local government guidelines for all your intended destinations prior to booking or setting out. Don’t forget to buy travel insurance to cover your trip.

Air travel

Everything you need to know about traveling in a post-COVID world, from how to stay safe while flying to whether baggage guidelines have changed and what to do if you plan on canceling your flights.

Is it safe to travel right now by plane?

“Travel providers are reacting to new consumer concerns by implementing and improving hygiene standards to instill confidence and differentiate themselves as people go through the holiday booking experience. Airlines and airports have introduced a slew of new measures to keep travelers safe on their journey. It’s also recommended that you take plenty of personal protective equipment with you to reduce the risks associated with flying during coronavirus.”

Jon Thorne, Director of User Satisfaction at Skyscanner

How clean is the air you breathe on an airplane?

Is it safe to travel right now when it comes to being on a packed plane for hours? How clean can that air really be? It may not be as pure as getting out into nature, but it’s certainly better than the more-stagnant air that slowly circulates in cafes, cinemas and supermarkets.

In simple terms, cabin air on a plane is almost certainly cleaner than the stuff you’d be breathing indoors on land. In fact, it is completely replaced every few minutes. This is thanks to the efficient air circulation systems and HEPA filters that are found on the majority of modern commercial flights.

What does HEPA stand for?

HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air and is a common type of filter used on planes. What they do is essentially remove any impurities in the air, no matter how small, including the tiny COVID-19 microns. In fact, in NASA research, HEPA filters remove impurities of that size with a 99.97% efficiency.

family walking through the airport

Do I need a COVID test to travel?

If you are traveling domestically, you will need to check requirements both at the state level and down to the county or city you are visiting. For example, Illinois has no statewide restrictions, but Chicago has set its own rules. Keep an eye on our coronavirus advice article for domestic travel. It’s updated regularly with the most important facts.

When it comes to visiting other counties, the rules differ depending on your destination and the location you are traveling from. Check the “Where can I go map” to get informed about the latest country requirements.

Everyone traveling into the United States—even U.S. citizens—is required to present a negative COVID test prior to boarding their international flight to the US.

If you need to get a COVID test before your trip and aren’t sure where to go, search for “coronavirus testing” and the name of your county. You should see results for a drive-through or walk-up testing service. While there are private testing sites, county testing at health centers, pharmacies and other locations may be free of charge. You can also ask your healthcare provider to point you in the right direction.

When will I be able to travel long-haul again?

Long-haul travel is back for U.S. residents to select destinations, such as Mexico, Costa Rica and Turkey. Whether you do or don’t have a destination in mind, you can check which countries are open to travelers from the US and what their requirements or restrictions are.

If you’re planning long-haul travel, then make sure you check out our guide to buying travel insurance during coronavirus to reduce risk.

Have baggage guidelines changed during coronavirus? 

Baggage guidelines, including size and number of bags, haven’t really changed much since the pandemic started. However, most airlines recommend that passengers check all their luggage to be extra safe when it comes to keeping conditions as sanitized as possible on board.

If you’re unsure what baggage restrictions are, check our guide to checked and carry-on luggage as well as the website of the airline you’re traveling with.

Can I travel between states in the US?

Although there are not as many restrictions for travel between states as for international travel, some states have self-quarantine or testing requirements. These guidelines are sometimes based on the number of coronavirus cases in the state you are arriving from. Check our updated list of coronavirus travel restrictions by state before your next flight or road trip.

What are the quarantine rules for domestic flights?

In the US, each state sets its own rules, and they some of them change as frequently as every two weeks. Find the latest updates in our coronavirus advice article.

Outside of the US, it depends on the country you are traveling around, as the rules may be different for domestic air travel than by land or sea. In most instances, travelers are asked or required to self-monitor their health for up to 14 days after flying. In stricter countries, those traveling domestically must self-quarantine for up to seven days. It’s best to check the local government’s travel advice page before embarking on domestic travel.

is it safe to travel right now? airplane seat being scrubbed clean

Do I need to wear a face mask during interstate travel?

Yes! It is federally mandated in the US for all individuals on flights and public transportation, as well as inside transportation hubs like airports and bus stations, to wear a mask. Airlines themselves are also enforcing this mandate, even internationally.

Flight cancellations and booking protections

With many flights nowadays well under capacity due to lower booking numbers, travelers are worried that their ticketed itinerary may be vulnerable to cancellation. We’ll dig into what you need to know about cancelled flights, flexible booking policies and travel insurance.

I’m thinking of canceling my flight. What are my options?

If you’ve asked yourself “Is it safe to travel right now?” and your answer is no, that is totally okay!

Canceling your flight depends on the airline’s cancellation and compensation policies. Many airlines are waiving change and cancellation fees. Unfortunately, some voluntary cancellations may incur fees (both from airlines and travel agents).

As a result of the uncertainty due to the COVID-19 situation, many airlines are offering flexible rebooking options, so if you’re ok with moving your trip to a later date, you may be able to avoid fees. You may also choose to wait until closer to your flight date to cancel. The, if the airline happens to cancel your flight, you won’t have to pay.

How do I know if the airline I’ve booked with has canceled my flights? 

Due to ever-changing COVID restrictions, some airlines may cancel flights. You should be notified directly, but you can also contact your airline or travel agent to double-check flight status. We outline exactly what to do if your flight is cancelled.

For specific airline route information, as well as current cancellation, rebooking or refund policies, you can find all the latest news and travel updates on airline websites or the International Air Travel Association.

The airline I’m flying with canceled my flight. What are my options?

It depends on the airline and its policy. Some airlines offer a voucher for future travel, or the option to rebook for a later date with no fee. There are some airlines that still offer refunds, so check with the airline or travel agent about options.

woman reading at airport during coronavirus wearing face shield

I’m struggling to get a refund. What should I do? 

Call centers and online support teams may be fielding significantly higher volumes of claims than usual. Many airlines have responded by instituting COVID-specific policies that allow travelers to claim and receive refunds over a longer time period. Check your airline’s website for policy details. If you’re trying to call or use a live chat to discuss refund options, expect longer wait times than usual, and be persistent.

I booked with Skyscanner. Who should I get in touch with to cancel or make changes? 

This depends on who you bought your travel from. There are two ways to buy travel through the Skyscanner site or app: buy from a partner or book with us.

Skyscanner’s partners are travel agencies, airlines, hotels and car rental companies. If you booked with a partner, you’ll need to contact them directly to cancel or make changes to your booking.

If you booked your travel with Skyscanner on our site or in the app, then check your booking confirmation for details on all the ways to get help. Not sure who you bought your travel from? Check your confirmation email or your bank statement for details on who payment was made to.

What protections are in place for vacation bookings going forward?

“Many providers have introduced flexible booking policies for future travel. When searching on Skyscanner for flights, you can identify those fares covered by flexible booking policies by the ‘flexible ticket’ icon on the flight listing. You can also adjust your search to show only flexible bookings.

Travel insurance is more important than ever, so it is advised to ensure that any existing policy you have in place covers you for the travel you are looking to book. If you bought a travel insurance policy before coronavirus became a known event, then, generally speaking, you’ll be covered. The relevant date varies according to the insurer, but 12th March 2020 is a good rule of thumb, as that’s the date the WHO declared coronavirus as a pandemic, and it became a ‘known event.’

If you are looking for new cover, study the fine print, and again, consider speaking to a representative on the phone or by email to be sure of what you’re covered for. If you don’t have cover in place, you should ensure you do before booking any future trips, also taking extra care to be sure that the policy covers you for travel to your desired destination.

It’s also advisable to check any consular and repatriation agreements between your home country and the country you want to visit. In some cases, countries might not have official measures in place to ensure you can return quickly from your place of travel if there is an emergency.”

Martin Nolan, Senior Director, Legal & Public and Regulatory Affairs at Skyscanner
a man in wheelchair traveling in Italy during covid

General knowledge

In this section, we look at the best of the rest, such as what exactly do “travel corridors” mean? Skyscanner’s experts answer the questions our travelers have been asking most, from what the future of air travel looks like to how COVID has changed people’s attitudes towards travel and “is it safe to travel right now?”

What are travel bubbles, travel corridors and air bridges?

Travel bubbles, also called “travel corridors” or “air bridges,” allow travelers passage between two or more countries without the need to quarantine. However, anyone entering from outside of the bubble will still need to quarantine for up to 14 days.

What does the future of air travel look like?

“Expect more electronic security measures as you move through the airport, with infrared cameras, body sensors and temperature screening in place in some cases to avoid infections spreading. Consider downloading apps to ensure that you don’t have to carry paper documents (primarily check-in, security, boarding and hotel confirmation). Also, consider taking most of your foreign currency in electronic form. Multi-currency cards with e-wallets mean you can avoid international bank fees and use contactless payment over notes and coins.”

Dave Thomson, Chief of Staff Product and Design at Skyscanner

How has coronavirus changed people’s attitudes toward travel?

We conducted a traveler survey and found that two-thirds (65%) of travelers also said they “want to make better use of their time to travel” and 80% are “more likely to travel to their dream destination” once COVID-19 travel restrictions are lifted.

We have seen a marked increase in the number of people coming to Skyscanner and searching for travel. Many airlines are now likely to add additional routes to their schedules with the aim of enticing travelers back to the skies with offers and promotions.”

Jo McClintock, Global Brand and Marketing Director at Skyscanner

What is a staycation?

A staycation is simply a domestic vacation. It means taking a break without leaving the country. In some countries, staycations are more popular than traveling abroad. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, more people have been looking at staycations until they feel confident to travel internationally again.

What is a workcation?

Workcations are the latest trend for remote workers who want a change of scenery for their day-to-day work life. More and more people are looking for ways to travel to a destination for a few weeks or a month to work and enjoy the scenery before and after they log their hours. No need to take PTO while typing away poolside at a resort or on the balcony of a hotel with a view!

Is it safe to travel right now?

After many months of uncertainty, there’s good news for travelers, as some countries have once again reopened their borders to international tourism. This means you can travel again now—if you want to. There’s a caveat, of course: your choice of destinations is smaller than before and there are quarantines in place. Visit your government’s foreign travel advice website to see which destinations are open and what restrictions might still apply.

person enjoying the beach view from a balcony

So there you have it, your coronavirus travel questions answered! There are plenty of ways to get inspired for when the world opens up again. Continue checking government guidelines as you consider your travel options. And if you ask yourself “Is it safe to travel right now?” and your personal answer is “no,” then just plan travel for later when you feel more comfortable exploring.

Discover where you can go

Making plans to get back out there? Find out which borders are open with our interactive global map, and sign up to receive email updates when your top destinations reopen.

COVID-19 worldwide travel information

Want to read more? 

This page was last updated on March 2, 2021. To our knowledge, the information on this page was correct at the time of publication. However, given the nature of the COVID-19 crisis, information will vary by location and change at short notice and over time. We will do our best to keep this page up-to-date, however this cannot be guaranteed.

This page has been created for general guidance only and has not been designed for you or any specific circumstances relevant to you. It is highly recommended that you check your government’s latest travel advice before traveling or making any decisions to travel.

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