Reopening stocks from airlines to cruise operators are getting hammered as Delta strain drives surge of infections

airport coronavirus
Airline stocks struggle Monday.

  • Shares of cruise operators and airlines were hit Monday as COVID-19 infections ramp up worldwide.
  • Carnival, American Airlines and Expedia were among the stocks that slumped on worries of new virus infections.
  • The CDC on Monday warned travelers to avoid going to the UK because of rising infections.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Shares of airlines, cruise operators and other travel companies slumped Monday during a selloff set off in part on mounting cases of COVID-19 infections worldwide, highlighting concerns about recovery in the industry and in the global economy.

American Airlines lost 4.4% and cruise operator Carnival fell 5.4% as part of a broader slide in US stocks that saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunge by more than 900 points during the session. On the Dow, airplane maker Boeing moved 5% lower.

Expedia Group, the online travel bookings site which also runs and Trivago, gave up 2.5% and hotel chain Marriott declined 3%.

Meanwhile, Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings fell 6% and Royal Caribbean Cruises lost 4.6% after a US appeals court ruled late Saturday that cruise restrictions put in place during the pandemic could continue in Florida, according to the Associated Press.

Travel stocks were hit as countries worldwide report rising infections of coronavirus from the Delta variant, which health experts say is the most transmissible strain yet. Infections in the US were rising in all 50 states, with Los Angeles County, the largest in the country, reimposing indoor mask mandates. Delta Air Lines declined 3.7% and Southwest Airlines gave up 2.5%, weighing on the US Global Jets ETF which fell 3.9%. COVID-19 cases have surpassed 190 million.

The headwinds battering travel stocks also helped drive a plunge in oil prices, which are being hit with supply and demand concerns as OPEC+ over the weekend agreed to boost crude output.

“Jet fuel demand will struggle as international travel is not happening anytime soon, especially given how several Americans are struggling to get their passports renewed even with expedited services. Even domestic travel to Hawaii is losing appeal given the limited availability for car rentals, lack of hospitality workers, and extreme price hikes for lodging and dining,” said Ed Moya, senior market analyst at Oanda, in a note.

On Monday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised Americans against traveling to the UK because of the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

The UK recorded more than 50,000 new cases for the first time in six months on Friday. Travel stocks there on Monday dropped after the UK government said fully vaccinated travelers entering from France must still quarantine, a move made as French cases increase. France on Sunday posted a third day of more than 10,000 new infections.

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After cutting 30% of their support staff, American Airlines is now asking corporate staff to volunteer to help in DFW airport this summer, amid a surge in travel

Passengers waiting to speak with ticket agents at American Airlines line the length of Terminal D at DFW International Airport December 6, 2013 in Dallas, Texas.
Passengers waiting to speak with ticket agents at American Airlines line the length of Terminal D at DFW International Airport December 6, 2013 in Dallas, Texas.

American Airlines asked nonunion workers employees at its headquarters to volunteer at nearby Dallas-Forth Worth International Airport as it expects a surge of travel during the summer, the Dallas Morning News reported.

Workers who volunteer would have to do so outside of their normal work responsibilities and will not be paid but are also not required to volunteer, the outlet reported.

American did not respond to an email request for comment at the time of publication but spokesperson Sarah Jantz told the Dallas Morning News: “As we look forward to welcoming back more of our customers this summer, we know they’re counting on us to deliver a reliable operation and help them feel comfortable as they return after many months away from traveling. That’s something our front-line teams are experts on as they regularly go above and beyond to take care of our customers. To ensure they have the support they need this summer and beyond, our corporate support teams will provide additional support at DFW.”

Jantz told the outlet employees have been asked to help with airport operations in the past, but it’s not common to ask the entire support staff for help.

The request comes amid a surge in travel and after the airline cut 30% of its support staff, which included the layoffs of about 1,500 staff members.

Volunteers would work six-hour shifts from June to August helping customers find their way around the airport, as well as assisting at gates and ticketing stations.

On June 6, the Transportation Security Administration recorded close to 2 million people going through airport security. This was the largest number of screenings since the pandemic started. The number of passengers going through security across the US has been increasing in recent weeks, as more and more Americans get vaccinated.

So far 42.1% of all Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The airline has previously said that it planned to operate a close to normal flight schedule this summer and has introduced new routes and added more flights over the past few months.

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Videos show a woman kicking, spitting at, and pulling the hair of airline passengers after being called out for not wearing a mask

A woman attacks passengers on a Ryanair flight
Screenshots from a video showing a Ryanair passenger verbally and physically assaulting other passengers.

  • A woman assaulted passengers on a Ryanair flight after she refused to wear a mask, the New Zealand Herald reported.
  • Video footage shows her pulling a passenger’s hair and kicking two men.
  • She was handed over to police officers at Milan Bergamo airport after the flight landed, Ryanair said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A woman was filmed attacking fellow passengers after being called out for not wearing a mask on a flight, the New Zealand Herald reported.

Viral footage shows the woman wearing a facemask on her chin while she verbally assaults passengers.

As tensions escalate, she can be seen pulling at a woman’s hair before spitting at others on board the Ryanair flight from Ibiza to Milan Bergamo on May 26.

Read more: ‘Harvard of the sky’: Meet the woman training private-jet flight attendants to serve the world’s most elite travelers

Later in the clip, crew members try to escort her off the plane. While being held back, she kicks two men.

“The crew of this flight from Ibiza to Milan Bergamo (26 May) requested police assistance upon arrival after a passenger became disruptive in-flight,” a Ryanair spokesperson told Insider.

The aircraft landed normally, and police removed the individual at Milan Bergamo airport. This is now a matter for local police,” the spokesperson added.

Unruly passengers are a growing problem for airlines, Insider’s Allana Akhtar reported.

The Federal Aviation Administration, an American civil aviation agency, said it had received 2,500 reports of disorderly behavior by passengers since January 2021. About 1,900 of the reports deal with passengers who refused to comply with the federal facemask mandate.

In April, Southwest Airlines passengers danced and cheered as a couple accused of refusing to wear masks were thrown off a flight.

In late May, a Southwest Airlines passenger punched a flight attendant in the face after repeatedly ignoring in-flight instructions.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Ted Cruz said it’s ‘awesome’ that airlines are touting travel deals to Cancún, 3 months after he flew into political firestorm over his own trip to Mexico while Texas was freezing, with no power or heat

Ted Cruz
GOP Sen. Ted Cruz gestures as he speaks to members of the media during the fifth day of the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, February 13, 2021.

  • Sen. Ted Cruz said it was “awesome” that an airline was offering a discounted flight to Cancún.
  • The tweet came three months after he faced immense backlash over his trip to Mexico while Texas endured freezing temperatures and power outages.
  • Critics slammed Cruz over his tweet, accusing him of joking about the trip as Texas froze.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted Tuesday that it was “awesome” that airlines are offering discounted deals to Cancún, three months after he faced backlash over his trip to Mexico during the Texas winter storms.

The Texas senator was embroiled in a political firestorm in February as Texas residents endured freezing temperatures and widespread power outages. More than 150 people died during the frigid winter storms, with causes of death ranging from hypothermia to carbon monoxide poisoning.

A tweet by ABC13 Houston shared an article about low-cost airline Sun Country Airlines, reading: “Excited to travel again? This airline can hook you up with a cheap flight to sunny Cancún or even Las Vegas!”

Cruz reshared the tweet with the caption: “Awesome!”

Read more: Neera Tanden is now one of at least 61 Center for American Progress alumni working for the Biden administration

Twitter users slammed Cruz in replies to the tweet, alluding to Cruz’s comment as a joke in light of the controversy spurred by his own trip to Cancún.

“The people of your state were in dire straits when you willfully abandoned them,” one Twitter user wrote. “The fact that you are joking about it confirms that you have no regrets.”

“Making jokes about how you abandoned your state leading to a child freezing to death does not make it ok,” another person replied.

In February, Cruz was lambasted after photos emerged of him at the airport heading to Cancún, and protestors gathered outside his home the following day. The trip was further corroborated by leaked text messages of his wife Heidi Cruz planning the Cancún trip with other families.

At the time, Democrats slammed the Republican senator for taking the trip, calling for him to resign.

“People in Texas are literally freezing to death and yet Ted Cruz went on vacation to Cancun,” Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington tweeted. “I guess spending so much time denying climate change must leave him pretty exhausted.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortex renewed her calls for Cruz’s resignation. She had originally demanded he step down over his response to the Capitol riots.

“If Sen. Cruz had resigned back in January after helping gin up a violent insurrection that killed several people, he could’ve taken his vacation in peace,” she tweeted at the time. “Texans should continue to demand his resignation.”

In a statement responding to the backlash, Cruz said his daughters ask to take the trip and that he only intended to fly down with them overnight and return back to Texas the next day.

A representative for Cruz did not immediately answer Insider’s request for comment and whether the tweet was in reference to his trip in February.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Your Memorial Day is about to get a lot more expensive. From hot dogs to fuel, here are some of the products in short supply.

  • As the vaccination rate picks up, demand is outpacing the supplies of many key goods.
  • Americans will face several prices hikes and shortages this Memorial Day.
  • Insider rounded up all the products that may be difficult to find over the holiday weekend.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Everywhere you look, there seems to be a new shortage popping up in America’s currently very strange economy. From chicken to gas, it’s getting harder to come by items as supply-chain issues, outsized demand, and the climate crisis all converge to choke accessibility.

But as Americans learn to live in a new normal yet again – this time with vaccines, fewer masks, and slightly eased pandemic-era restrictions – demand for things like travel and hotels is on the rise. With a long weekend coming up, Americans are ready to get back into the world. But the economy may not be ready for them: Here are the shortages that could plague Memorial Day weekend.

Vacation homes

Vacation home

Vacation-home rentals in the US are at an all-time high this year.

More people are looking to travel as the vaccination rate increases. In the US, 65% of people plan to travel more this year than before the pandemic started and 82% of families have already made vacation plans, according to online rental hub Vrbo.

If you haven’t rented out a vacation home yet, it might be too late to find one this year: 85% of vacation rentals in Cape Cod, the Outer Banks, and along the Jersey shore, are booked through August, Vrbo said.

Prices for vacation homes are skyrocketing, CNBC reported last month. Rentals in premium locations are going for record sums. One house in the Hamptons rented for $2 million this summer.


Hotels and motels

hotel reception

It’s not just vacation and rental homes seeing a surge: Hotels and motels saw their costs increase by 8.8% in April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

CNBC reports that nightly prices are on the rise, and are likely only to increase as summer travel goes into full swing. In fact, prices in coveted areas, like beaches, have soared above pre-pandemic levels.

While some industries say they’re struggling to find workers and staff up, the leisure and hospitality sector actually saw notable gains in April’s jobs report. While the report came in far below expectations — with just 266,000 jobs added, instead of the expected 1 million — leisure and hospitality emerged the strongest.

The industry added 331,000 payrolls. While that’s a promising sign of recovery, some experts say even those additions aren’t coming fast enough.





Americans looking to hit the road for Memorial Day weekend will face soaring gas prices.

The price of fuel surged to a seven-year high on Wednesday. Fallout from a cyberattack on the nation’s largest fuel pipeline devastated the supply chain, pushing the average price in the US over $3 per gallon. The 5,500-mile oil pipeline reopened on Thursday, but Reuters reported it could take weeks for fuel supply to return to normal, after consumers rushed to stock up on gasoline over the week.

Prior to the cyberattack last weekend, prices were not expected to see another significant spike until after Memorial Day, when travel is expected to push demand even higher at the end of the month.

But, even before the pipeline was shut down, gas prices were skyrocketing as demand outstrips dwindling fuel supplies. In April, fuel prices leaped 9% in their largest one-month increase in nine years as shipping container shortages, port delays, and OPEC production cuts made the commodity increasingly valuable.

A new or used car

Car Dealership
New Chevys for sale fill the lot at Raymond Chevrolet in Antioch, Illinois, July 17, 2014.

If you wanted to buy a car for that summer road trip you’ve been planning since March 2020, you may find yourself up against some fierce competition — and ever-increasing prices.

New cars are in short supply due to an ongoing shortage of the computer chips that power everything from the Bluetooth in cars to iPads, and their scarcity has been felt all over the economy. Some car manufacturers had to halt production at the start of the year, leading to more elusive models and higher prices.

That’s trickled down into the used-car market. In April, used car prices jumped by 10%. Insider’s Ben Winck reported that that was the largest one-month increase since 1953, when data first started to get collected. In fact, that price jump accounted for around a third of April’s big 0.8% jump in inflation from the previous month.

Experts attribute the shortage to demand for vehicles, especially as new cars are harder to come by, and rental car services attempting to rebuild fleets; many sold off some of their cars at the onset of the pandemic. 

Rental cars are also in high demand. As Americans clamor to travel again, there’s a “perfect storm” brewing, Insider’s Brittany Chang reports.

In hot tourist destinations, prices are surging; Jonathan Weinberg, the founder and CEO of AutoSlash, told Chang that some rental cars in Hawaii are going for over $500 a day — a massive increase from the usual $50. And rental car companies are expecting strong demand over the summer for their reduced fleets, all while coming up against the computer chip shortage.

But vacation goers might still find it expensive and difficult to get around if they’re counting on rideshare drivers. Uber and Lyft have been trying to lure drivers back to work with new incentives, but there’s still a persistent driver shortage. That’s due to a variety of factors, as drivers worry about safety and find stability in enhanced stimulus benefits.


woman flight airplane mask
A woman disembarks from an airplane.

If you’re planning on jetsetting over Memorial Day weekend, you may find the shockingly low flight prices of the pandemic have vanished.

In April, airline fares increased by 10.2%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics

That’s not to say there aren’t deals, as airlines unleashed a week of wild international flight deals in April; the risk with those, as Insider’s Tom Pallini reported, is that it’s unclear if those countries will be open to American visitors.

But, as the Washington Post reports, it could be a different story for domestic flights, especially over the summer. Rising demand and fares could be concentrated over the summer, as Americans race to take advantage of the weather and newly loosened pandemic restrictions.

Adit Damodaran, an economist at travel booking app Hopper, told Insider’s Jamie Ditaranto that demand is concentrated around late May and early June — and that prices may rise by 15%.

Bacon and hot dogs

hot dogs on grill

Memorial Day barbeques will be impacted by the supply snags.

Bacon and hot dogs may be difficult to find in grocery stores, due to a global pig shortage. The hog industry has faced several setbacks this past year. High instances of swine decimated hog populations this past winter and COVID-19 outbreaks in at least 167 meat-processing plants forcing almost 40 plants to close as of June 2020.

Demand will likely outstrip supply as people stock up on the meat for cookouts on Memorial Day weekend.



Illegal fireworks illuminate the sky over the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of the Brooklyn borough of New York City, New York, U.S., June 19, 2020. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

It will be more expensive to celebrate the holiday with fireworks this year.

Superior Fireworks announced they were increasing their prices about 15% this year — the highest the company has ever had to hike prices in its 20-year history.

The company is one of many fireworks producers that have been forced to raise prices in order to compensate for higher shipping and production costs.


Lodge at Kukuiula
The property’s infinity pool.

Vacationers looking to relax in the pool during the holiday weekend may face difficulty finding clean pools.

Last month CNBC reported the US is facing the worst chlorine shortage in history. Prices for the chemical used to clean pools has nearly doubled this past year and is only expected to continue to rise with warm weather.

Pool owners can avoid the shortage by using saltwater pools instead, according to Insider’s Annabelle Williams.

Imported goods like wine and cheese

food membership
wine with cheese

Vacationers will pay top dollar for imported food.

Good from overseas, including seafood, cheese, and wine are facing months of shipping delays. Some grocery stores, including Costco have already reported shortage of imported food, while other companies have already begun to hike prices in response.

Last month, Coca-Cola and General Mills announced they were raising their prices.

Restaurant service

los angeles outdoor dining
A waitress takes customers’ orders in the outdoor seating area of a restaurant on January 28, 2021 in Los Angeles.

People looking to eat out over the holiday weekend may find difficulty getting service at local restaurants.

Major labor shortages have rocked the restaurant industry. After laying off millions of workers at the onset of the pandemic, many restaurants are struggling to bring workers back as they reopen.

Restaurant chains have rolled out new incentives to lure employees back, according to Insider’s Kate Taylor. But, many frontline workers are hesitant to return to work over concerns regarding COVID-19 safety, as well as childcare, Insider’s Ayelet Sheffey reported.

Read the original article on Business Insider

American Airlines is cutting flights to South America due to lack of demand stemming from the continent’s new surge of COVID cases

American Airlines Plane
American Airlines.

  • American Airlines is cutting select services to South America due to COVID-19.
  • Rising COVID-19 cases in these countries have decreased flight demands.
  • The airline’s flights to Brazil, Chile, and Peru have been impacted by this decision.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

American Airlines is reducing flights to select South American destinations due to a decreased demand amid COVID-19 surges, the airline confirmed to Insider.

The coronavirus pandemic has been ravaging parts of South America in recent weeks. As a result, several countries – including Brazil, Peru, and Chile – have recently seen a record high in COVID-19 cases and deaths.

At the same time, the more infectious P.1 coronavirus variant, which was first discovered in Brazil, has been spreading across several locations outside of the country, including Canada and Minnesota. And at the top of the month, Chile decided to shut down its borders, which means only Chileans and foreign residents will be allowed to travel to the country.

Read more: American Airlines is closing in on a $10 billion lifeline from investors enamored by cash-rich loyalty programs – and it’s a strategy that could be replicated by industries like retail and hospitality

Concerns over covid have inevitably started impacting the level of demand for flights to these locations, leading American Airlines to decrease its offerings. Impacted services include:

  • Suspending flights from Miami to Manaus, Brazil until November 1.
  • Pushing the start of flights from New York to Santiago, Chile from May 7 to July 2.
  • Reducing daily services from Miami to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to three flights a week.
  • Reducing daily services from Dallas-Fort Worth and New York to Sao Paulo, Brazil to three flights a week.
  • Reducing daily services from Dallas-Fort Worth to Lima, Peru to five flights a week.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has labeled Brazil, Chile, and Peru at the highest Level 4, and does not recommend traveling to these three South American countries.

Read the original article on Business Insider

United and Delta will offer daily flights to Iceland and Greece this summer, the first European destinations to open to vaccinated Americans

reykjavik Iceland volcano eruption
Weekend hikers visit the area where a volcano erupted in Iceland.

  • United and Delta will offer seasonal daily service to Iceland and Greece this summer.
  • Both countries are heavily dependent on tourism, and the EU is under pressure to reopen to travelers.
  • International travel was still down more than 75% in March compared with 2019, industry data show.

US tourists eager to go abroad will be able to visit three European destinations this summer, so long as they can prove they are vaccinated against COVID-19.

On Monday, United Airlines announced it would begin seasonal daily service to Iceland and Greece beginning in July.

United’s move follows Delta’s announcement last month that it would offer daily service to Iceland from three US cities (Boston Logan, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airports) beginning in May, and Delta’s route map indicates flights from JFK to Athens will resume in June.

In addition, United will offer thrice-weekly routes to Croatia, reflecting an increase in search activity on its website over the past month, the company told Bloomberg. Each of the European routes are new for United and are as follows: Chicago to Reykjavik, Iceland starting June 3; Washington-Athens, Greece starting July 1; and Newark to Dubrovnik, Croatia starting July 8.

Iceland is part of the Schengen zone of visa-free travel, but is not a member of the European Union, and is therefore exempt from the general restriction on visitors from outside the EU. Iceland Air recently warned international travelers that the country could not be used as a kind of backdoor to the continent, saying, “further travel from Iceland to the rest of Europe is currently not permitted for non-Schengen residents.”

Greece meanwhile just lifted its restrictions for travelers from the US who can provide a vaccination certificate or a negative COVID test result. As an EU member, Greece’s move puts additional pressure on the bloc to reopen travel more broadly.

Both Greece and Iceland are heavily dependent on tourism dollars. Tourism constitutes roughly a tenth of Greece’s economy, and those revenues plummeted 80% as a result of the pandemic. In 2019, tourism represented 42% of Iceland’s economy. In an attempt to incentivize visitors, Iceland Air is promoting round-trip prices as low as $349 and waiving change fees to give flyers greater flexibility when traveling.

Data from an industry trade group shows international travel was still down more than 75% in March compared with 2019.

Read the original article on Business Insider

For 10 days in a row, more than 1 million people have flown from US airports, despite the CDC urging people not to travel

Airport pandemic covid travel Illinois
Travelers arrive for flights at O’Hare international Airport on March 16, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois.

  • Americans are returning to the skies as airlines grow increasingly optimistic about the future of travel.
  • The TSA screened nearly 1.47 million passengers on Friday, the most in more than a year.
  • The CDC is still urging people to stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The number of flyers departing from US airports has topped 1 million for 10 days in a row – even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging people to avoid traveling.

The US Transport Security Administration (TSA) said Sunday it has screened more than 1 million passengers at US airports every day since March 11. It screened around 13 million passengers over the 10-day period, it said.

Though travel is allowed, current CDC guidance says people should “delay travel and stay home to protect yourself and others from COVID-19, even if you are vaccinated.”

Read more: 3 reasons to be optimistic about this summer, according to 18 doctors and scientists

For the first time during the pandemic, air travel is higher than it was at the same time a year ago. On Saturday, the most recent day data is available for, the TSA screened nearly 1.37 million passengers – more than double the number it screened on the same day in 2020.

US air travel peaked on Friday, when the TSA screened close to 1.47 million passengers, the most in more than a year.

CNN first reported the news.

CDC travel guidance: masks, tests, and vaccines

If people have to travel, the CDC urges them to get tested both before and after flying, and quarantine at their destination, even if they test negative. Passengers must wear face masks on all flights, following an executive order from Biden, with few exemptions, and the CDC says they should get a COVID-19 vaccine, if possible.

All international arrivals are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before they board a flight to the US.

Some countries are mulling vaccine passports to facilitate international travel. The European Commission proposed a vaccine passport for EU citizens Wednesday, which would vouch for vaccination, COVID-19 test results, and whether the person has recovered from COVID-19. Similar passports are in the works in China and the UAE.

Public-health experts told Insider they felt unusually optimistic about this summer and the pandemic.

In an opinion piece, Insider reporters Andrea Michelson and Hilary Brueck said authorities should stop telling people not to travel and instead teach them how to do it safely.

Fares hit record lows and passenger confidence grows

Airfares are hitting record lows as airlines try to lure flyers back.

Passengers are also growing increasingly confident about flying as the vaccine rollout ramps up across the US. President Joe Bidens has eyed May 1 as the day all US adults will become eligible for the shot.

Airlines have been preparing for passengers to return to the skies. JetBlue Airways reportedly asked flight attendants who took a leave of absence to come back early for a “busy summer season,” and also lifted COVID-19 safety measures so it could fit more passengers on each flight. It stopped blocking middle seats in October, and opened flights to be filled to capacity in January.

But others are keeping restrictions: Delta, for example, is continuing to block middle seats through April.

“The move is undoubtedly costing the country’s second-largest airline millions in lost revenue over spring break but helps solidify Delta’s image as a safety-minded airline long after the pandemic ends, which may help it attract more travelers in the long run,” Insider’s Thomas Pallini reported.

Read the original article on Business Insider

14 new travel essentials to pack while traveling during the pandemic

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

COVID pandemic travel safety kit 2
  • The CDC still urges Americans to avoid traveling in order to minimize the risk of contracting or spreading the disease.
  • If you do travel, it’s crucial to take precautions and be vigilant about personal and communal safety. 
  • Pack three-ply masks, disinfectant wipes, and a travel safety kit with items that can clean your hands in a pinch.
  • This article was medically reviewed by Dr. David Aronoff, the director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Vanderbilt Institute for Infection, Immunology, and Inflammation.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

It’s natural to feel an increased temptation to travel as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to lock down much of the United States. But as cases surge throughout the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are urging Americans to stay home in order to continue to protect themselves and others. 

Despite those warnings, many people still choose to travel either for vacation or to visit family and friends. The safest way to do this is to self-isolate for 14 days before and after traveling or getting together with other people, limit all social interactions to their own homes, and continue to wear a mask and practice social distancing.

Dr. Abe Malkin, and the founder and medical director of Concierge MD LA, told Insider that the most important precautions are keeping your hands clean, avoiding touching your face, and keeping a distance from people you don’t live with.

That last point is especially vital while traveling. It’s harder to catch COVID-19 from surfaces, so staying away from other people is a necessity. So is packing a travel safety kit with items like hand sanitizer, spare masks, storage bags, and disinfectant wipes – no matter if you plan on flying or driving.

If any of this feels too stressful to think about or prepare for, that’s a good sign it’s best to stay home and avoid traveling altogether. Dr. David Aronoff, our medical reviewer, agreed.

“All travelers should ask themselves before they go: Can I afford to be trapped somewhere if I or one of my travel companions gets COVID and can’t travel home? If the answer is no, stay home,” Aronoff, the director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Vanderbilt Institute for Infection, Immunology, and Inflammation, told Insider.

If you are traveling, he encourages checking your health-insurance information before you go to find out where and how to seek medical attention if you need it and what your policy covers. Aronoff suggested having a plan for where you’d go to get care if you got sick and how you’d quarantine from the people you’re visiting.

For those who do plan to travel, we’ve compiled information and product recommendations to help make air and vehicle travel safer during the pandemic.

Here are the new essentials everyone should pack along before traveling:

What should be in your travel safety kit

COVID travel safety kit

First and foremost, remember the basics: Keep your hands clean, and stay away from people outside your household as much as possible. The biggest challenge when traveling is maintaining at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others.

You should also pack a portable safety kit — and the necessary items in this COVID-19 safety kit only slightly differ for flying versus driving.

Masks for adults

We all know wearing a mask all day isn’t exactly the height of comfort, but most people get used to it quite quickly.

Dr. Joyce Sanchez, the medical director of the Travel Health Clinic at Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin, told Insider that even if it feels harder to breathe while wearing a mask, it doesn’t actually affect how much oxygen your body gets. Aside from people who are unable to put on and take off a mask themselves, such as people with cognitive difficulties, almost everyone can safely wear a mask, “including those with chronic lung and heart problems,” Sanchez said.

Wearing a mask helps compensate for the lack of distance that inevitably comes with standing in line, sitting on a plane, or walking by someone on the way to the bathroom.

COVID-19 is mainly transmitted via droplets and microscopic particles (aerosols) that come out of our noses and mouths when we cough, sneeze, laugh, talk, and breathe.

Wearing the right mask the right way helps to protect not only the people around you but the wearer too, the CDC says. And while wearing a disposable or a reusable mask is a personal choice, we’d encourage you to minimize waste whenever possible.

Sanchez said the real key is to “choose a face mask that fully covers your mouth and nose and has two or more layers of fabric.” She also suggested choosing masks made of nonstretch fabrics because they “better block the passage of droplets.”

The very best nonmedical masks have three layers. The layer next to your face and the outer layer should be a tightly woven fabric like cotton or linen.

The layer in the middle should be a filter fabric, ideally made from a water-repellent fabric like nonwoven polypropylene. Some masks have this filter built in, but you can add your own to a two-layer mask with a pocket. A folded paper towel or nonwoven polypropylene fabric (like what’s typically used in reusable shopping bags) also works well.

It’s important to have a snug-fitting mask, Malkin said. This means the air you breathe in and out will be pushed through your mask’s fabric layers so that virus particles are more likely to get trapped in the mask rather than inhaled.

What about N95 masks?

N95 masks are preferred for medical staff. The key reason they’re effective is that they’re specially fitted to create a seal that ensures that all expelled air is forced out through the filters of the mask and doesn’t leak from the edges. N95 masks are more uncomfortable than nonmedical masks and, unless fitted properly, are unlikely to provide any additional benefit. The CDC doesn’t recommend most people wear them.

Skip valved masks, bandanas, and neck gaiters, which don’t provide a tight seal and allow too much air to escape. “Valved masks are not recommended as they allow larger droplets to spread when breathing or speaking,” Sanchez said.

While reports this summer that neck gaiters are worse than no mask at all were likely overblown, researchers don’t know exactly how well they work. They do know that other masks are effective, so skip the neck gaiters and bandanas. (Many airlines don’t allow them anyway.)

Masks for kids

Since the fit of a mask is the most important factor, kids should use masks made for kids, Malkin said. “Adult masks are too big for them,” he said.

With both kids and adults, masks aren’t effective unless you wear them properly — and this can be more difficult with resistant children. Malkin advised opting for a mask with a character or design your child likes to increase the chance that they’ll want to wear it (and will keep it on when you’re not looking). Consider letting your child pick out their masks to ensure they’re happy wearing it.

Airlines and stores have different age requirements for kids who must wear a mask. Masks are generally required for kids 5 and older, but sometimes the limit is 2 years old. The CDC does not recommend masks for children under 2. Aronoff said all kids over 2 years old should wear one unless they physically can’t.

Face shields

How important are face shields? “While studies show that additional eye protection in the form of face shields or goggles (not eyeglasses) decreases transmission in hospital settings, we do not know exactly how much additional protection a face shield offers in the community setting,” Sanchez said.

She said that while she saw no downside to adding a face shield to your travel safety kit, “they are not an equivalent substitute for face masks.” They might provide protection if someone sneezes in your direction, for example, but they don’t protect people near you from aerosols and droplets coming out of your mouth.

Face shields can also be useful as a reminder not to touch your face or your mask.

Hand soap, sanitizer, and wipes

Clean hands are important not just before and after you eat but anytime you touch your face or your mask. Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and drying them on a clean towel is the best way to get them clean, the CDC says.

There’s no need to use antibacterial soap. Antibacterial products have no additional effect on viruses, and they often contain harmful chemicals.

Washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap is the most effective way to clean, but hand sanitizer is a close second (and often more convenient). Make sure your hand sanitizer is alcohol-based and made with at least 60% alcohol, Sanchez said, and spread it in the nooks and crannies of your hands. Be sure to rub it all over your hands until it evaporates.

Hand wipes are a last resort but are certainly better than having unclean hands in your mouth. Keep in mind that most are formulated for objects and not for skin. “Wipes that are not safe for hand use are required to be labeled by the manufacturer,” so read labels carefully, Malkin said. As with hand sanitizer, a hand-wipe formula needs to be at least 60% alcohol to kill viruses.

Since washing with soap and water isn’t always possible and restrooms might not be available, you should always have hand sanitizer with you. It’s wise to open restroom doors and turn off taps using a paper towel so you don’t immediately dirty your clean hands.

Disinfectant wipes

“While keeping high-touch surfaces clean is important, obsession or worry over disinfecting every surface you come into contact with outside of your home is unlikely to make a meaningful impact on your risk of acquiring COVID-19,” Sanchez told us.

Objects you should clean regularly are your phone, sunglasses, keys, and anything you touch and set on dirty surfaces; as soon as you pick them up off a restaurant table or reception counter, your hands are now contaminated too.

If you’re flying, you’ll want to wipe down any high-touch surfaces around your seat. Disinfectant wipes are ideal for quick and easy cleaning of objects of any shape.

Be sure to clean your phone too — you might be surprised by how dirty it actually is. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for how to clean it, and try to use it only with clean hands. (But be careful: Some cleaners can ruin your screen.)

Storage bags

To make pandemic travel as easy as possible, it’s important to have sanitizer and other essential items with you and to keep them organized. Ideally, your carry-on bag would have multiple pockets so you can keep things like food and extra masks separate from dirty items (also known as “hot” items). You’ll also want to be able to reach your hand sanitizer easily and not contaminate everything else while trying to get it.

We recommend having a few plastic bags available, like the ones you put produce in at the grocery store. They’re useful to safely keep used wipes, tissues, disposable masks, and other “hot” items until you can find a trash can. You’ll want one for your car, and flight attendants and aircraft cleaners will be especially grateful that you went the extra mile to protect their health as well as your own.

What you can skip: Gloves

You don’t need to bring gloves with you on your trip. “Gloves can spread the virus as well. The virus can live on the surface of a latex glove, the same as skin,” Malkin said. “Some people become too relaxed when they are wearing gloves. They do not realize they are at more risk for spreading COVID-19 because they are touching multiple personal items in between other things.”

Studies have suggested that people who wear gloves tend not to wash their hands as often or notice when gloves get dirty or damaged. It’s also easy to contaminate your hands when removing gloves. Plus, we don’t need any more COVID-19 waste than we already have.

If you don’t want to sanitize your hands after touching every single door handle, consider using a cloth or a dish towel for opening doors. Then simply fold it “hot” side in and tuck it into a plastic bag or place where it can’t infect your other belongings.

Just don’t use your feet on door handles, elevators, or pedestrian crosswalk buttons — you don’t want to make them dirtier for others who might have no choice but to touch them with their hands, such as people who use wheelchairs.

What else to keep in mind

COVID travel safety kit 2

Set kids up for success

If kids can help choose their own supplies, it increases the chance they’ll use them. But it’s more important to “model safe practices,” Sanchez said. “If you’re wearing a mask, disinfecting your hands, maintaining that distance, and reinforcing those behaviors through what you say and do — children pick up on and mirror that.”

Keep in mind that the Food and Drug Administration says kids 6 and under shouldn’t use hand sanitizer unless supervised by an adult. This is to prevent them from ingesting it or getting it in their eyes. You just need to watch them until it dries. Once sanitizer evaporates, it’s safe for kids to eat with their hands and even stick their fingers in their mouths.

Make sure your mask fits correctly and is comfortable

The fit of your mask is crucial. Malkin said you want one that’s “not too big to where it’s falling off below your nose, and not too small to where it’s compromising your airflow.”

If a mask causes your glasses or sunglasses to fog up — a very common complaint — that’s actually a sign it doesn’t fit properly and allows respiratory droplets to escape out the top.

Special tape, like Cabeau Tape, can be placed over any gaps to create a better seal and can even be used across the sides of a mask to seal it to your face if ear loops irritate you. (The tape is reusable, but make sure you create a real seal every time you take it off and put it back on.)

Though masks don’t actually inhibit airflow, their tendency to suction to your mouth every time you breathe in can be annoying and increase moisture in the fabric. To prevent this, look for a mask with a more structured frame that keeps the fabric away from your lips, or insert a frame, like one from HeartFormSF, into a covering you already have.

Minimize how much you’re taking your mask on and off

Your mask is meant to trap the virus particles that could be in the air — not just yours but those from other people. That means it’s dirty, so you’ll want to avoid touching it for any reason.

If you do need to adjust it or take it off (to eat or drink, for example), hold it by the ear straps and avoid touching the parts that cover your nose and mouth. Remember to clean your hands before and after touching your mask.

If you plan to wear the mask again, like after you eat, keep it clean. Putting it on a table or around your arm is an easy way to spread your germs and pick up germs from other people. Sanchez advised storing it in a clean plastic or paper bag or on a clean, disinfected surface away from masks, hands, and breath to minimize contamination.

A resealable plastic bag is a good pick; bring a few on your trip so you always have a clean one to store your mask.

Always have extra clean masks

When you travel, you need to have enough masks to wear a fresh one each day, as well as extras on hand if you accidentally drop your mask or get it dirty. It’s important to wash reusable masks daily — a clean-looking mask can be covered with particles, which can spread to your hands every time you take it off or put it on.

Follow your mask’s washing instructions. The CDC says it’s fine to wash masks by hand and hang them to dry. Ideally, wash as you do your hands, with a minimum 20-second scrub with soapy water and a thorough rinse. Hand soap is fine — you don’t need to travel with a special fabric detergent.

Is it safer to fly or drive?

COVID travel safety kit 3

If you do need to travel, driving is generally safer than flying commercially, Sanchez said. If you drive, you have control over who shares the car with you, what measures are used for disinfecting surfaces, where you stop along the way, and when you return, she said.

However, driving isn’t realistic for every destination.

Just keep in mind that you’re most likely to transmit or catch the coronavirus just by being in close proximity to an infected person. That means airport lines are an issue (sitting on the plane much less so, as we’ll explain below), as is driving with anyone not already in your household bubble.

Regardless of your mode of transportation, it’s important to be incredibly diligent with precautions.

Your driving safety plan

COVID travel safety kit 4

If you’re driving, you don’t need to wipe down your steering wheel and anything in your car, so long as you’re careful to clean your hands before getting in. That means you should have hand sanitizer at the ready for after you use a gas pump and a public restroom, for example.

Though it may be tempting to skip public restrooms and just pull over for a roadside bathroom break, don’t — it’s illegal throughout the US for many reasons, including that sewage needs to be treated properly to prevent the spread of diseases like cholera and bacteria like E. coli and salmonella.

Use public restrooms, but minimize your exposure: Don’t wait outside the bathroom close to other people, especially if they’re not wearing masks, but wait outside for a free stall. If the toilet has a lid, close it to flush. (There’s evidence that the coronavirus can be aerosolized by flushing.)

Additionally, Sanchez said to assume that public restrooms are not properly disinfected, so “treat surfaces as if they have a live virus on them.” That means wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and then use a paper towel to turn off the tap and open the door. If you do touch anything on your way out, use your minimum-60%-alcohol hand sanitizer.

Your airport safety plan

COVID travel safety kit 5

Airports — especially with lines at security or boarding gates — are risky because of the close proximity to other people. Wear your mask at all times, and keep as much distance from others as you can.

Since you’re much more likely to contract COVID-19 through the air than by touching something, don’t stress about taking your shoes off to get through security. But do wear socks. “When you take off shoes to go through security, thousands of dirty soles have touched that surface,” Malkin said. “Wear socks to protect your feet from a host of possible germs.”

It’s also wise to sanitize or wash your hands after you’ve touched security trays.

As for the plane itself, airlines have stepped up their disinfecting regimens. Many use electrostatic foggers nightly — sometimes between every flight. Those spray a fine mist of disinfectant throughout the plane, and the electrostatic charge causes it to stick to all surfaces, not just fall to the floor.

It’s still wise to wipe down everything in your seat area with a disinfecting wipe like Clorox Ultra Clean Disinfecting Wipes. Do look for “disinfecting” on the label — a cleaning wipe rids your tray table of that splash of Coke, but it won’t kill any viruses. Settle into your seat and wipe down everything you’re likely to touch: the seat belt, armrests, the tray table, the air vent, the window-shade handle, and all places you need to touch to operate the entertainment system.

Then thoroughly clean your hands with sanitizer. The Transportation Security Administration increased the size limit for sanitizer during the pandemic, so you’re now allowed to bring one bottle that’s up to 12 ounces in your carry-on bag. If you’re flying internationally, note that some countries maintain the 3-ounce limit.

You might be worried about sitting in an enclosed space for hours, but the air on planes is cleaner than in many indoor places, and airlines’ mandatory mask policies help protect everyone from virus particles that others may be breathing out. When a plane cruises, the cabin air refreshes every three to four minutes, using fresh air from outside and air that’s gone through HEPA filters that remove virtually all viruses.

If you need to eat or drink on a plane, it’s wise to wait a few minutes after the people around you have put their masks back on before you take yours off.

Minimize moving around on the plane, including wrestling carry-on luggage in and out of the overhead bin. If you need to use the restroom, be sure to close the toilet lid before you flush. After washing your hands for 20 seconds and drying them, use a paper towel to unlock and open the door. Avoid touching seatbacks as you return to your own, and then sanitize your hands again if you’ve touched anything.

It’s smart to avoid crowds around the baggage carousel — wait until space clears before you grab your bag. Use a disinfectant wipe on the handle of your luggage, then stop in the restroom and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before you leave the airport.

You don’t need to completely change your clothes before hopping into someone’s car after your flight, but you certainly can if it makes you feel more comfortable. Aronoff said clothes won’t transmit the virus to another surface (like the car seat) to then be picked up by someone else.

You’ll also want to check your destination’s COVID-19 rules for arriving passengers. Some require you to have a negative COVID-19 test and to monitor your symptoms for up to two weeks, so you may need to pack a digital thermometer.

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A growing number of countries are banning flights from the UK to protect their citizens from the new variant of fast-spreading coronavirus

BA Flight
A British Airways Airbus A319 lands.

  • Fears around a new, more transmissible variant of COVID-19 have prompted multiple countries to cancel flights from the UK.
  • The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Italy, France, Ireland, and Israel are among the nations that have placed restrictions on travel with the UK.
  • Eurostar has canceled all journeys between London, Brussels, and Amsterdam.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A growing number of countries, including France, Germany, and Ireland, announced that they will be restricting travel with the UK over fears of a fast-spreading variant of COVID-19.

The mutant coronavirus is believed to be up to 70% more transmissible than the original strain. In order to stop its spread, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that London and surrounding areas would suddenly be plunged into lockdown.

Dutch authorities confirmed at least one case of this COVID-19 variant had reached the Netherlands. Consequently, it was announced that flights carrying passengers from the UK would be banned until January 1, 2021.

Belgium followed suit. The country brought in a 24-hour ban on all UK entrants, starting midnight on Sunday.

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo told Belgian broadcaster VRT: “Of course, that could be extended should it appear that we have more conclusive data.” 

Eurostar has since suspended all trains between London, Brussels, and Amsterdam.

On Sunday afternoon, Italian foreign minister Luigi di Maio said that the government would be suspending all travel from the UK to Italy.

He wrote on Twitter: “As a government, we have the duty to protect Italians. For this reason, after having notified the English government… we are about to sign an order to suspend flights with Great Britain.”

Shortly after, the Austrian government confirmed that air travel to and from the UK will be prohibited. The Israeli government has also banned entry to all non-Israelis flying from the UK, and earlier today, Israeli police escorted UK travelers to isolation at state-operated hotels.

Later Sunday, French officials announced that people in the UK would be prohibited from entering France beginning at midnight. Initially, the ban will last 48 hours, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said, to allow for discussion with other EU members states about extra safety measures.

German health minister Jens Spahn announced Sunday that all flights from the UK were banned beginning Sunday at midnight. He said the German government planned to address further restrictions on Monday, according to DW.

And leaders in Ireland on Sunday announced a 48-hour ban on all flights from the UK, though it said it would continue to allow ferries to operate between Ireland and the UK to preserve supply chains, according to a report from RTE. Officials said they planned to reevaluate the travel restrictions Tuesday.

Flights between the UK and Bulgaria were likewise suspended Sunday through the end of January 2021, the Sofia Globe reported, with travelers from the UK required to partake in a 10-day quarantine upon arrival.

Canada, a member of the Commonwealth, also announced a 72-hour halt on flights from the UK, effective midnight.

“While no cases linked to this new strain have been identified in Canada, work continues to identify if this variant is present or has been previously observed in Canada,” government officials said in a statement, according to Reuters.

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