Weatherby Healthcare is providing regular travel condition updates to help our locum tenens travelers be better prepared for the rapidly changing travel conditions and requirements of 2020.
Update September 1, 2020
United Airlines was the first to announce they will no longer charge change fees on most of their domestic tickets. Delta and American quickly followed with their own announcements of no more change fees.
These big three airlines are hoping to entice more people to fly by making easier if plans change. Note that change fees will still apply to Basic Economy fares.
An increase in fare will still apply if your original ticket was purchased at a 21-day advance fare and you make a change 7 days prior to departure. Only the increase in fare will apply, there will be no additional $200 change fee.
All three airlines will be allowing standby on the same day for no fee. Delta will extend Medallion Membership status for an extra year and offer extensions to Sky Club memberships. Delta will also continue to block the middle seat for the rest of 2020.
New Salt Lake City International Airport Terminals
The new SLC International Airport will open September 15. Some things to keep in mind:
- From September 15 to October 27, some passengers may still be required to use existing facilities in the old terminal, depending upon which airline they are flying. Most Delta flights — but not all — will depart from the new terminal starting on Sept. 15. Travelers on other airlines and a few Delta flights will still depart from gates in the old terminal.
- ALL travelers will be required to go through check-in and security screenings in the new terminal, even if they are on flights that still depart from the old terminal. They will access those gates using a foot bridge, but they must enter the process through the new terminal, as that is the only check in and security area that will be functioning. Because of this, all travelers should allow extra time on their arrival to the airport to ensure they have plenty of time for flights.
- Starting on Oct. 27, the old terminal building will be completely shut down, and all flights will be departing out of the new terminal, either concourse A or B. The old Salt Lake Airport will no longer exist.
- For those travelers who are Delta Sky Club members, the new Sky Club will open on Oct. 15. It is 29,000 square feet and can accommodate up to 660 people, although COVID guidelines will restrict occupancy levels during initial operations.
- The security screening area will have up to 17 screening lines available depending on passenger need.
- Rental car services are still as easily accessible as the current situation, and the physical proximity of the airport has not changed, so hotel locations are unaffected.
- Connection travelers should experience very little change, except for those who might be connecting to/from a flight that will depart from the old terminal until Oct. 27.
International air travel
Travel to New Zealand is at about 65% capacity (to pre-COVID travel). Due to its low rate of cases, New Zealand has reopened most flight routes.
Enterprise Holdings (Enterprise, National, Alamo) deferred delivery of 1 million automobiles, reducing their fleet size. They are “right sizing” their fleet to match demand. Avis and Hertz have taken similar measures.
Hurricane Laura Aftermath
Much of Louisiana is still without power due to Hurricane Laura.
Update August 25, 2020
California wildfires are wreaking havoc in the state. Not only the fires, but smoke and ash are forcing people from their homes.
Delta has announced that they will continue to block the middle seat until January 6, 2021. This will help with distancing passengers on their planes for the rest of the year.
Airlines that accepted benefits from The CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act (under “Preserving Jobs for American Industry”) cannot make any significant changes until October. Jobs had to be preserved and airports/cities had to have service (with few exceptions).
American Airlines has announced that beginning in October (when the Act expires) they will layoff/furlough approx. 19,000 employees and eliminate service to at least 15 cities. American says they will continue to reassess the cities they service and determine if these cities need their service added back or if more cities need reduced service. The 15 cities on their list are all smaller “regional” cities. Other airlines will continue limited service to these cities.
United Airlines has not announced specific numbers of layoff/furloughs for October (they sent 36,000 “warning letters” to employees). United has added 12 new winter routes to Florida.
Delta Air Lines is rumored to possibly lay off 800 employees. Delta will bring back many international flights in October, hoping this helps fill their domestic flights.
Each airline is trying to “right size” their fleet and schedules for a slow pandemic recovery.
Update August 18, 2020
- Canada has extended its ban on travel to and from the United States until September 21.. Essential travel only is permitted.
- The U.S. is lifting travel bans for people coming to the United States. And government policy makers are urging airlines to resume international flights. However, most countries are still banning American from entering their countries.
- Many states are restricting travel if you are entering from certain “hot spot” states, including Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Essential/healthcare workers are considered exempt.
Update August 12, 2020
- Airlines have seen an increase in travel this last week. TSA screened 831,789 passengers on Sunday, which is the highest number of passengers since the pandemic started; last year on this same day they screened 2.6 million passengers.
- Airlines have reported that the large increase in travel is due to an increase in leisure (vacation) travelers, with only a slight increase in business travel.
- All airlines are working to secure their Fall route schedules. Delta and United have announced they will increase the number of flights they will operate. American has announced they will partner with JetBlue and Alaska Airlines; between the three, they will “code share” to have more destinations and flights available without adding aircraft.
- The major airlines have clarified their mandatory face mask policy. Face masks must snuggly fit against the face, cover the mouth and nose, and be well secured. Face shields that do not cover the mouth and nose, bandanas, and masks with holes in them (even exhaust valve holes) will not be accepted. Neck gaiters may be worn as face coverings as long as they fit snuggly over the nose and mouth and are secured under the chin. All passengers 2 years old and over must wear face masks/coverings while at the airport and while flying.
- All travelers entering the State of New York are required to fill out a Traveler Health Form. Those entering from the 34 states on their quarantine list must self-quarantine. Healthcare/Essential workers are exempt.
- New York is also setting up check points for out of state visitors.
- It is extremely important for all locum tenens healthcare providers to carry with them a copy of their medical license and a copy of their assignment confirmation.
Update August 5, 2020
- Delta, Southwest, and JetBlue are still continuing to block middle seats.
- All U.S. airlines have extended “no change fee waivers” for another month.
- Car rental companies are now requiring face masks be worn while on their premises, picking up or dropping off rental vehicles. This includes airport and non-airport locations, regardless of state requirements.
- For non-airport locations, Enterprise will make every effort to have the pick-up/drop-off take place outside in an effort to keep people out of enclosed areas.
Update July 27, 2020
Quarantines, curfews, and protests
- Most travelers to New York will need to quarantine.
- 34 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico are on the quarantine list (essential workers are exempt).
- Broward County, FL, still has a curfew mandate from 11 p.m. – 5 a.m. daily until August 20.
- Protests continue in Portland, OR, and a few other cities around the country. Authorities say they are contained in isolated areas (near courthouses/federal offices) and do not pose a risk to most residents or visitors.
Update July 23, 2020
- Mask requirements have been extended. Face coverings must be worn on all flights AND while in the airport. Masks must be worn at check-in, through TSA, in the boarding area, and in the baggage claim area (the entire time a passenger is on airport property).
- The mask mandate is required for all U.S. airports (regardless of the state and whether the state has a mandate).
- Delta, United, and American Airlines have announced they will deny boarding and ban further travel on their airline for non-compliance.
- Face coverings must be worn at all hotels in public areas (at check-in, lobby, dining, and common areas).
Weatherby travel itineraries
- To make it easier for our locums travelers, Weatherby has added a link on your itineraries to the Travel Vendor Health & Safety Guide, which includes the latest updates from all travel vendors. This will allow you to see what each vendor is doing to ensure their safety. For example, if your are traveling on Delta, picking up an Avis rental, then staying at a Marriott, you can see what each of these companies is doing to keep travelers safe. Also included is information about TSA, CDC, and the U.S. Department of State (restrictions on international travel).
Update July 13, 2020
- Delta, American, United, Southwest, and JetBlue have all extended their waiver for change fees. Any ticket booked until July 31 can be changed without penalty if needed.
- Delta, Southwest, and JetBlue will cap the sales of their planes to 50%-65% (depending on the seat configuration) to allow for middle seats to be blocked.
- American and United will not limit the number of seats sold per flight. If a flight is full, they will let any passenger wishing to take another (American or United) flight or change to a different flight (most flights are operating at between 30-60% capacity).
Note: Healthcare workers/essential workers are exempt from most restrictions.