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omicron travel

What to expect from Omicron flight cancellations and new travel requirements

This holiday season, thousands of flight cancellations left travelers stranded in airports across the United States. While many cancellations were due to severe weather across various states, the spike in Omicron infections also played a part in disrupting holiday travel plans for thousands. 

Were you one of the many whose travel plans were impacted by omicron this holiday season?  

How the virus affected airline travel  

The Omicron variant began spreading rampantly over the Thanksgiving travel period and has since continued to spread rapidly. Omicron is reportedly more transmissible than other COVID-19 variants. 

In an article by Bloomberg, David Powell, physician and medical adviser to the International Air Transport Association, estimated that “aircraft passengers are two to three times more likely to catch the virus during a flight since the emergence of Omicron.”

The higher chance of infection and rapid spread has led to new travel guidelines and unexpected flight cancellations. 

Since December 24, more than 15,000 U.S. flights have been canceled, The Washington Post reported. Additionally, some airlines have already preemptively canceled flights for the month of January. Last week, JetBlue announced it would cancel 1,280 flights through January 13. 

The rising infection rate does not only affect travelers but also airline workers, including air traffic controllers. Derek Dombrowski, a JetBlue spokesman, said the airline has seen a surge in sick calls because of the omicron variant. 

Additionally, Henry Harteveldt, an aviation analyst with Atmosphere Research Group, said in the same article, if Omicron infections continue to rage on, airlines may announce further cancellations for the remainder of January and possibly into February. 

omicron travel

Travel cancellations may continue throughout January and into February. (Travel photo created by freepik) 

Current Omicron travel restrictions and guidelines 

While many airlines continue to cancel flights, travel is still possible. If you’re planning to travel, here are the newest guidelines to follow to reduce your risk of infection. 

According to the CDC’s newest requirements

  • If you plan to travel internationally, you will need to get a COVID-19 viral test (regardless of vaccination status or citizenship) no more than 1 day before you travel by air into the United States. You must show your negative result to the airline before you board your flight.
  • Unvaccinated Americans and legal permanent residents are allowed to enter the country with a test taken within one day of departing for the United States. 
  • If you recently recovered from COVID-19, you may instead travel with documentation of recovery from COVID-19

In addition to these requirements, foreign travelers arriving in the United States to be fully vaccinated. All children over the age of 2 flying into the United States must also show negative test results before traveling. 

Currently, there is no post-arrival testing or quarantine requirement. 

You might be interested: Why reaching “herd immunity” transcends the end of a pandemic 

Federal mask mandate is still in effect and has been extended through March 18. This mandate requires all travelers to wear masks in airports, on planes, and on other forms of public transportation including buses and trains. 

Travelers should continue to practice general COVID-19 safety guidelines, such as keeping adequate distance from others, avoiding tight crowds, keeping masks on indoors, and washing and sanitizing hands.

summer travel 2021

Covid-19 travel safety tips and guidelines to get you to your next vacation this summer

As vaccines continue to roll out and we approach the summer months, everyone’s mind is wandering toward dreams of travel and sorely missed vacations. But is it safe to travel yet? What are the different restrictions for domestic travel vs international travel? With guidelines constantly changing and new information becoming available for vaccinated individuals, we have compiled a list of travel safety tips to help you get to your next vacation this summer. 

Covid-19 travel safety tips and guidelines for 2021 summer travel 

International travel is still riddled with hoops and hurdles as each country adopts different guidelines and many countries, such as Canada, continue to have their borders closed. If you are planning an international trip, it would be best to look into the guidelines for your specific destination. The CDC has a useful page for looking up guidelines by destination for those planning an international trip. 

However, you do not need to go far for your next get away. Domestic travel restrictions for fully vaccinated individuals have lifted many of the hurdles that prevented easy travel in the past. 

Domestic travel guidelines for fully-vaccinated individuals 

Fully vaccinated individuals or those who have recovered from COVID-19 in the past 3 months can now travel domestically without getting tested or self-quarantining before or after travel unless required by their specific destination. 

Fully vaccinated people should still follow the CDC’s general travel guidelines which include: 

  • Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth when in public.
  • Avoiding crowds and staying at least 6 feet/2 meters (about 2 arm lengths) from anyone who is not traveling with you.
  • Washing your hands often or using hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).

You might be interested: Everything you need to know about your COVID-19 vaccine card

CDC, domestic travel, covid-19 travel safety guidelines, summer travel 2021

Domestic travel guidelines for fully vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. (Image source: cdc.gov)

Domestic travel guidelines for unvaccinated individuals 

Unvaccinated individuals at this time are still required to follow all travel safety measures, including getting tested before and after traveling or self quarantining for 10 days. 

Because traveling increases the risk of exposure to the virus, unvaccinated individuals are encouraged to avoid unnecessary travel. However, if you choose to travel domestically and are still unvaccinated, following these guidelines will help minimize your risk of exposure. 

When traveling, unvaccinated people should: 

  • Get tested or self-quarantine before and after traveling
  • Wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth.  Masks are required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in areas of transportation such as airports and stations.
  • Avoid crowds by staying 6 feet /2 meters apart 
  • Wash hands thoroughly and often or use hand sanitizer 

Further planning resources 

As much as we would love to be back to “normal” in time for summer vacations in 2021, the reality is we still must take proper precautions and follow all Covid-19 travel safety guidelines. 

For additional planning resources the CDC offers many detailed guidelines such as their Travel Planner which allows you to look up any domestic travel destination. For travel safety  recommendations such as best transportation methods and accommodations see the CDC’s Safer Travel Ideas.