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April 21, 2020

In this edition of the Travel News Brief: managing unused airline tickets, GBTA convention date change, DOT rules on airline cancellations, airlines offer free name changes, Emirates tests for COVID-19, frequent traveler status extensions, Amtrak and Greyhound reduce routes, hotel updates, state-to-state travel requirements, TSA tips and more!

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The ‘New Normal’ of Travel Safety

At its core, travel can be defined by two aspects: connections and experiences. Whether a corporate traveler or a vacationing tourist, travel makes connections possible and those connections define the resulting experience.

For today’s travelers, both how they connect with others and how they experience travel are rapidly changing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. New safety and sanitation measures mean less person-to-person interactions and—the silver lining—a greater focus on the health and wellness of the traveler. Read More

How Health Management is Redefining Business Travel

The COVID-19 pandemic has redefined everyday life, introducing phrases like social distancing into daily conversation and flipping the switch on virtual workplaces around the globe. Businesses from small companies to big-name brands are all fighting to adapt to the sudden changes and, most importantly, anticipate the “new normal” that will last long after the crisis has waned.

While recovery forecasts and projected trends vary by industry and region, corporate travel has already begun to witness a shift in preparation for the post-pandemic future. Read More

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Buyers Grapple with Cascade of Unused Air Tickets

Business Travel News — Many corporate travel programs will emerge from the COVID-19 crisis with millions of dollars' worth of airline vouchers or refunds, which will require keen data management and close cooperation with airline partners. Some buyers told BTN they have at least $1 million in unused tickets. Read More

GBTA Moves Annual Convention to November

Business Travel News — The Global Business Travel Association due to COVID-19 outbreak has moved its annual convention to Nov. 7-11, 2020, in Denver, the first such postponement in its 52-year history of hosting the convention, according to the association. Read More

U.S. DOT: Carriers Must Offer Refunds for Canceled or Significantly Delayed Flights

Business Travel News — The U.S. Department of Transportation on Friday issued an enforcement notice to airlines, saying they are required to provide refunds, not vouchers for future travel, for flights that have been canceled or required a significant schedule change. Read More

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Delta, American, United Allow Free Name Changes on Corporate Tickets

Business Travel News — Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and United Airlines each have introduced free name change policies for corporate customers. Read More

United Again Cuts Capacity, Braces for No Demand Rebound Until 2021

Business Travel News — United Airlines is cutting about 90 percent of its planned capacity in May and expects to announce in the coming weeks a similar level of reduction for June, CEO Oscar Munoz and president Scott Kirby said in a letter to employees. Read More

Emirates Begins Testing Passengers for Coronavirus Prior to Boarding

Afar — The carrier is working with the Dubai Health Authority to conduct the on-site rapid COVID-19 tests. Is this what the future of air travel will look like? Read More

American Airlines to Extend Current Elite Status into 2022

Frequent Business Traveler — America Airlines said Monday that it plans to extend the current elite status of members of its AAdvantage frequent-flyer program through 2022, given the severe decline in travel amidst the current coronavirus pandemic. Read More

United Airlines Will Resume Additional International Flights In May

Simply Flying — United Airlines has indicated it hopes to resume international flights in May by opening booking for three daily flights to Europe and two daily flights to South America. United plans to resume flying from Chicago, Washington-Dulles and Newark, N.J., to London, Frankfurt and Amsterdam, respectively, and from Houston to Bogota and Buenos Aires. Read More

Delta Air Lines Extends Change Fee Waivers for Flights through June

Travel Market Report — As the travel industry continues to feel the effects of the coronavirus outbreak, Delta is extending some of its waiver policies while making it easier to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Read More

U.S. Airlines Reach Agreements for Federal Stimulus Aid

Business Travel News — U.S. carriers have reached agreements for aid they will receive under the federal government's COVID-19 relief stimulus package, approved last month. Under the terms of the agreement, the carriers have agreed not to implement involuntary furloughs or pay reductions through Sept. 30. They also agreed to limitations on stock buybacks and dividends. Read More

Passengers Find Travel Harder at Regional Airports

New York Times (tiered-subscription) — Cancellations due to reduced demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic means many small-market airports have difficulty serving fliers as routes are consolidated. Passengers may need to seek circuitous routes as direct flights are canceled. Read More

To Fly or Not to Fly? Why Sustainability Matters in a Post-COVID World

Phocuswire — The worldwide unrest caused by the COVID-19 virus has sent shockwaves around the globe – a rippling, and at this point, ongoing, transformation of the status quo in personal and professional routines, says PhocusWire. In doing so, it has forced upon us numerous experiments that may have long-term impacts, potentially most profoundly on the travel industry. Read More

Delta Changes Seating Policies to Practice Social Distancing

Business Travel News — Next week, Delta Air Lines will begin blocking middle seats and cutting back on the number of passengers per flight to abide by social distancing recommendations. Read More

Alaska Airlines Offers Elite Status Through 2021

One Mile At A Time — Alaska Airlines will extend 2020 elite status through 2021 for its frequent flyers and also extend deadlines for using companion certificates. Read More

Delta, United Extend Earned Frequent-Flyer Status

Business Travel News — Delta Air Lines and United Airlines each are extending loyalty program status through the end of next year, the carriers announced. Read More

Airline Testing Airport Kiosks to Identify Travelers with Medical Conditions

Travel Pulse — The airline said that the new technology—which can monitor the temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate of anyone using an airport touchpoint like a check-in kiosk, bag drop facility or a security gate—could potentially spot the early stages of coronavirus (COVID-19). Read More

Delta Air Lines Extends Travel and Rebooking Window to 2022

Travel Market Report — Delta has extended the ability to plan and re-book travel for up to two years. Read More

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McCarran Airport Reduces Operation Hours at Security Checkpoints

Las Vegas Review Journal — McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas is reducing hours for some Transportation Security Administration security checkpoints in response to the airport's steep drop in traffic due to the coronavirus pandemic. Read More

Timeline: The History of Airport Body Scanners

Airport Technology — Body scanners have been in use at airports for less than 20 yet they still spark controversy when it comes to privacy and social injustice issues. Here is a look at the main events that defined the development of body scanners, the role they play now and how they’re evolving to meet new demands. Read More

Global Entry Enrollment and Renewal Halt Indefinitely

Smarter Travel — Here's how the pandemic could impact your Global Entry membership. Read More

U.S. State Department Stops Issuing Passports Amid COVID-19

Travel Pulse — The U.S. Department of State has scaled back its Passport Agency operations and will no longer be issuing new passports in view of the situation surrounding the still-escalating COVID-19 pandemic. Read More

Government Travel Warnings & Alerts

U.S. Department of State — Information on current government issued travel warnings and alerts. Read More

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National, Enterprise Extend Elite Status Into 2022

Business Travel News — National Car Rental's Emerald Club and Enterprise Rent-A-Car's Enterprise Plus loyalty programs each are extending elite status for members by a year. Read More

Amtrak, Greyhound Continue Reduced Routes

USA Today — As the coronavirus rapidly spreads throughout the United States, major transportation companies such as Amtrak and Greyhound are faced with keeping their employees and passengers safe while still providing what officials say is a critical service for many Americans. Read More

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How a Dallas Skyline Icon Became a Beacon of Hope (and Good Advice)

Paper City — Images of the Omni’s LED display capture the city during an unprecedented time. Read More

The Best New Hotels in the World

Afar — As we continue to stay home, we offer you a little future travel inspiration: our annual Stay List. We scoured the globe last year looking for the best new hotels in the world—and these are the 27 spots. Read More

What “Hospitality” Really Means During a Crisis

Afar — Hotels and restaurants have become a model of grace and generosity even as they face one of their biggest challenges in recent history. Read More

Coronavirus Places Heightened Concern on Hygiene of Short-term Rentals

Phocuswire — When travel eventually resumes following the outbreak of COVID-19, travelers will have to reassess their comfort levels across all aspects of the journey. The shift in mindset will also affect how they select accommodations, with cleanliness and sanitation becoming top of mind over other considerations like price. Read More

Hotels Continue Easing Cancellation Policies

Business Travel News — With the COVID-19 outbreak still growing, hotel companies continue to extend the dates for their relaxed cancellation and change policies. Read More

More U.S. Hotel Closures Likely With Occupancy Rates Near 20%

Bloomberg — Occupancy rates at U.S. hotels fell slightly to 22% in the week ending April 4, as social-distancing measures continued to batter travel companies. Read More

Hyatt Extends Its Loyalty Program Benefits for One Year

Forbes — Elite World of Hyatt loyalty members' benefits earned in 2019 will expire in early 2022 instead of early 2021 because of the pause in travel caused by the coronavirus. Read More

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If You're Traveling Between States, Here's Where You'll Have to Self-quarantine

USA Today — In the absence of federal domestic travel restrictions to stem the spread of the coronavirus, the governors of at least 40 states have stepped in issuing stay-at-home orders. And nearly 30 are discouraging interstate travel by announcing quarantine requirements or recommendations for travelers or people who live there traveling home from other states. Read More

TSA Releases Tips for Traveling During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Fox News — Due to the coronavirus outbreak, airlines have seen a significant decrease in the number of travelers. While it seems that many are avoiding traveling (or are unable to due to restrictions), there are still people flying. To help these travelers, the TSA has compiled a list of tips for handling air travel amid the coronavirus pandemic. Read More

How to Sanitize Your Hotel Room on Future Trips

Smarter Travel — As soon as you walk into your hotel room, you should clean these germy areas. Read More

Travelers’ Biggest Pet Peeves Ranked

Afar — These are the behaviors of fellow passengers that annoy travelers the most (so don’t be that person). Read More

If You're Traveling Between States, Here's Where You'll Have to Self-Quarantine

USA Today — Here's a breakdown of the states that have instituted quarantine orders for travelers… Read More

If You Must Fly, Here Are Some Tips to Do It Safely

CNN — Most of the country is sheltering in place and air traffic has slowed dramatically but there are still people who must fly. Read More

5 Proven Ways to Avoid Plane Germs

Smarter Travel — Whether you're dreading flying again or you still need to, these tips can help. Read More

Canceling Travel Due To COVID-19? 6 Things You Need To Know

Forbes — It's no surprise that COVID-19 has resulted in such a detrimental impact on the travel and tourism industry as a whole. As a result, many travelers now are dealing with a new set of stressful scenarios when canceling and postponing their travel plans. Read More

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A Rapid Response to COVID-19

Creative Group — In just three-and-a-half weeks, Creative Group designed a series of extraordinary rewards and experiences to replace an incentive trip to Australia. See the case study here and the PR release that followed.

How to Get Things Done at Your Meeting

Successful Meetings — Productivity guru David Allen offers tips on how to cut out wasted time at meetings and events. Read More

Looking for guidance on planning your next convention, incentive, or group trip? Direct Travel will assist with all your meetings and event details!  Whatever your needs may be when it comes to your event, you can always depend on us to design streamlined travel arrangements, plan strategic meetings, and deliver real-time results. For details, please send a message to: