How Airlines, Hotels & Cruise Lines Are Making Travel Safer During COVID-19

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As state lockdowns are lifted and stay-at-home orders inevitably ease, Americans are becoming increasingly curious about when and where they can travel. Search terms such as “travel during covid 19,” “where to travel during covid,” and “can you travel during covid 19” have all risen sharply in popularity in the months since the pandemic began.

If you do choose to travel, plan to follow these safety recommendations:

  • Research local and state restrictions by visiting their respective health department websites.
  • Pack essentials, such as hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes.
  • Choose ‘contactless’ whenever it’s an option.
  • Maintain social distancing whenever possible. Wear a mask (or similar face covering) when it’s not, and in all indoor locations.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, as often as you can.

Much of the above has become second nature for many of us. Know, too, that travel companies are listening.

They’ve always prioritized the well-being of their guests and customers, but they’re now implementing additional safeguards to help ensure unforgettable experiences in challenging circumstances.

Here are some of the protocols several airlines, hotel chains, and cruise lines have instituted.

Delta Introduces CareStandard

While every industry was forced to reevaluate its safety measures, airlines in particular needed to adjust—and quickly. Not only did essential travel continue, but the nature of airplanes (and airports for that matter) makes social distancing difficult.

Delta sprang into action to transport passengers safely. Search the ‘Clean’ category on the company’s website, and you’ll find resources detailing Delta’s commitment to providing a clean, safe, travel experience.

For example, the airline announced on June 30 a collaboration with the Mayo Clinic to increase its safety measures. Recently, Delta also published an interview with Dr. Michael Saag, Professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, in which he outlined why cabin air is so clean.

“The air is refreshed frequently, taken off the plane, 10 to 30 times an hour,” he says. “It goes through a filter, and the infectious organisms are removed. It’s mixed with fresh air and returned.”

When coupled with its new Delta CareStandard—which includes protective plexiglass at counters, requires masks for employees and passengers, notifies passengers via the Delta App when pre-flight cleaning is completed, and reduces cabin capacity to 50% in first class and 60% in coach—the initiatives have made flying Delta as safe as possible.

Other major airlines such as American and United have instituted similar policies, so no matter what destination travelers are heading to, they can breathe easy in the air.

Hilton CleanStay & Purely Palace Highlight Hospitality’s Clean Efforts

If travelers were concerned about taking a crowded flight, they also expressed consternation at staying in hotels. The establishments control the cleanliness of their environments, but can’t guarantee infected guests won’t walk through their doors and sleep in their rooms.

Similar to airlines, however, hotel chains have gone beyond what’s required to ensure safety. Hilton, for instance, has established Hilton CleanStay. The company has made concerted efforts to keep travelers informed at each stage of their journey.

Hilton sends pre-arrival messaging with an explanation of the CleanStay program. It also provides contactless check-in for honors members (and contactless checkout for every guest), social distancing in the lobby, hand sanitizer and a disinfecting station at elevators, and a CleanStay room seal that signifies no one has accessed the room since it’s been cleaned.

Even smaller details—Hilton removed printed collateral from all rooms to minimize touched surfaces—were considered to give guests peace of mind.

Resorts have gone even further. Palace Resorts, with nine locations in Mexico and one in Jamaica, has required guests to “sign a declaration of health, confirming they are free of any COVID-19 related symptoms, have not had tested positive or come into contact with anyone that has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 30 days” as part of its Purely Palace program. Palace has also discontinued buffets, mandated social distancing, and installed maximum capacities for its indoor entertainment spaces.

Crystal Clean+ Program Aims To Make Cruises Safer

Cruise lines have been more patient with their full return than airlines and hotels, in part because they serve a less essential purpose. Disney has delayed departures until September 30; Royal Caribbean, October 1.

That doesn’t mean these companies aren’t working hard to implement safety measures.

Take Crystal Cruises, a line that offers a variety of river and ocean excursions in North America, Europe, and Asia. They’ve canceled all cruises through October 22, but have worked to build safety standards to give passengers a safe voyage when they hit the seas again.

The Crystal Clean+ program outlines safety protocols in 13 categories. A few stand out:

  • Crystal will provide masks to its crew and guests.
  • Guests will undergo temperature checks at the terminal and prior to embarkation.
  • The crew will be tested for COVID-19 prior to departure and undergo frequent temperature checks onboard.
  • The ships feature 100% fresh-air ventilation systems.

Read through the entire list to get a full idea of the cruise industry’s commitment to providing a safe travel environment.

For More Travel Guidance, Work With A Travel Advisor

Even with all the safety measures in place, you may still hesitate to book a trip.

There’s always a risk, and each destination requires diligence from every employee and guest. You can only control so much.

That’s why we encourage travelers to work with advisors. They can provide the right guidance at any time, but they’ve taken on added responsibility during the pandemic.

In fact, during the recent, virtual New Travel Conference, conference co-founder Shivani Vora said that “the role of the travel advisor is more valuable than ever.”

“[T]he right advisor can give you comfort and the latest information out there,” she added, “which, as the ad says, is priceless.”

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