By Damien Martin
As advisors, we’ve always focused on helping our travelers make the most of their experiences. Delivering the most value possible and providing peace of mind is what luxury means to us. In the current climate, the new luxury is health and safety. Largay Travel president Amanda Klimak spoke as part of our Travel Dreaming series with representatives from the airline, hotel and cruise sectors to discuss how they’re working to ensure safety when we send our clients into their care. Whenever you’re ready to travel, we want to send you out as well prepared and protected as possible.
While we’ve been working hard to devise some incredible road trips by car and RV for the summer, most journeys still begin with a flight. That of course involves not just the time you spend on the plane, but the time in the airport and going through security. Delta, which is blocking off middle seats through at least Sept. 30 and banning passengers who refuse to wear masks, is sending out pre-departure emails to remind travelers what to expect.
“No. 1, it’ll tell you don’t forget your mask,” Delta sales account executive Kyle Hassell said, “and it will also tell you to pack some snacks, because other than Starbucks being open there’s not a lot of airport concessions open yet because of the lower demand on flights.”
You can do contactless check-in via the Fly Delta app or on kiosks at the airport that are wiped down after every use. When checking in, you’ll fill out a quick health questionnaire and agree to the mask policy. If you have a medical condition preventing you from wearing a mask, Delta recommends arriving an hour earlier to the airport to give you plenty of time for a phone call with the doctors at STAT-MD who can assess and clear you for boarding. The baggage area is sanitized regularly and clearly marked with social distancing place markers.
Boarding is back to front, 10 passengers at a time. On board, the air is partially recycled, but many plane types bring in air from outside, and the air you’re breathing is from your row only and sent through a HEPA filter before coming back out of your personal vent. The air is refreshed every 2-5 minutes, and flight attendants clean the bathrooms every 30 minutes.
Once you’re on the ground and at your accommodations, Marriott is leading the way in hotel safety with a core set of 10 standards devised by health experts. In addition to complying with local regulations, the “Cleanliness Champion” at each property oversees the implementation of these enhancements. Guests are required to wear masks in public spaces at all Marriott properties. “We are constantly evolving to make sure our hotels are as clean as possible and as safe as possible in preventing the transmission of the virus,” Alexis Romer, VP of sales for Marriott International Luxury Brands, said.
Contactless check-in is available through the Marriott app, and restaurant menus are either single-use or QR code-based. Tables are spread out to allow enough distance for safe and comfortable dining. Before arrival, Marriott communicates to guests which areas of the hotel are open and what the protocols are so there are no surprises.
Cruise ships over 250 passengers are on a no-sail order through September. They’re using the time to revamp safety procedures. Royal Caribbean Group (which includes Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity, Azamara and Silversea cruises) has partnered with a Health Sail panel of doctors co-chaired by former secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt.
Royal Caribbean will return to the seas at 60-70% capacity to ensure plenty of room in public areas, including socially distanced reserved seating at shows. Rather than doing a group lifeboat drill at the beginning of the cruise, guests can do the muster drill ahead of time through the Royal Caribbean app or on the TV in your stateroom. Pre-boarding protocols are still being designed, but guests will most likely have to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test and masks will be required in the congested terminal area at boarding.
As for stepping off the ship in port, “we’re going to have exclusive shore excursions,” Vicki Freed, Royal Caribbean International senior VP of sales said. “We’re going to make sure that the providers we use are capable of providing a safe environment.”
The last thing we or our partners want is for our travelers to get sick or get others sick. Whenever you’re ready, we’re here to provide you with the information you need to travel safely.