As travel starts to return, remember that your personal information and travel documentation must be updated and valid to avoid delays at the airport or issues crossing international borders. Radius Travel has created this handy checklist to save you time and avoid headaches when you are ready to book your next trip, whether domestic or abroad.
Update Your Travel Profile
Many things can change in a year, especially when you need to maneuver through a global pandemic. Make sure you have updated your personal information, including address, phone number, email, and seat preference, within your travel profile.
Check Applications and Processing Times for Trusted Traveler Programs
According to US Customer and Border Protection, due to the COVID-19, applications for NEXUS, Global Entry, SENTRI, and FAST will remain active (not expiring) for 24 months after receiving a conditionally-approved notification.
Global Entry is processing both new and old applications with significant delays in processing times, averaging six months to be conditionally approved.
NEXUS and FAST Interviews
Due to temporary restrictions on non-essential travel at US land borders, NEXUS and U.S.-Canada FAST interviews at US and Canadian enrollment centers will remain suspended until further notice.
TSA PreCheck® and CLEAR
Travelers should be aware that not all airports have TSA PreCheck® lanes open. If a dedicated lane is not available at your departure airport, show your boarding pass with the TSA PreCheck® indicator to receive expedited screening in a standard lane. Remember to check your expiration for TSA and CLEAR to ensure you are allowing ample time for processing.
Know Before You Go – Health Rulings are Frequently Changing
Countries and states are frequently changing their entry, quarantine, and health rulings. Make sure you are working with your travel management provider to keep apprised of any changes that could impact your travel.
Face Coverings and Masks are Now Required in Airports and on Airplanes
While your specific state our country may not require a mask, face masks are now a federal requirement in all airports and on all airplanes in the United States under a CDC order. Masks are also required on other public conveyances, such as ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, and ride-shares.
Refusal to wear a mask on some airline carriers may result in denial of boarding, removal from the aircraft, and even civil penalties under federal law.
The CDC’s mask order provides limited exemptions for people with a disability and children under 2.
Traveling Domestically Within the US
Driver’s License/ID Compliance Changes
According to the Department of Homeland Security, on October 1, 2021, US travelers must be REAL ID-compliant to board domestic flights and access certain federal facilities.
International Travel: Traveling from the US to Other Countries
Ensure Your Passport is Up to Date
If you need a passport, your passport has expired, or your passport will expire soon, you must apply now for renewal. The US Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs notes that current turnaround time for passports is 10-12 weeks. Additional fees apply for expedited passports arriving in 4-6 weeks.
At this time, registered third parties across the US are unable to assist with passport services. Travelers must either submit their application via USPS or in person. In-person submissions must be for life-or-death emergencies only.
Emergency Passport Submissions
All 26 passport offices are open and processing. However, only Hot Springs, AR, Boston, MA, and Philadelphia, PA have appointments available for life-or-death emergencies. Please check this US Department of State site often for the most up-to-date information as details are continuously changing.
For urgent in-person submissions at the passport office, travelers must receive pre-approval and a scheduled appointment from the US Department of State. Appointments are given based on urgency. Life or death emergencies are considered top priority, followed by urgent business travel and then tourism. Please be advised that the US Department of State can cancel appointments without reason.
Travelers may schedule an appointment if traveling within 2 weeks or need a foreign visa within 4 weeks; however, the appointment cannot occur more than 3 business days before your date of travel or 10 days if a traveler requires a visa.
When travelers arrive at their scheduled appointment, they must provide proof that they are traveling within 3 business days, or 10 days if they require a visa. If they are unable to provide this proof of travel, the agency will not be able to accommodate the traveler.
Minors Traveling on a Passport
When booking family trips, adults need to double-check the passport’s validity for any child traveling. Passport processing is still 4-6 weeks (expedited), so it is best to submit your application as soon as possible.
Check Passport Validity Requirements for Your Destination
As a reminder, some countries require that a passport be valid at least six months beyond the dates of an international trip. Some airlines will not allow travelers to board if this requirement is not met.
International Travel: Traveling to the US from Other Countries/Returning from Abroad
Ensure You Have a Negative PCR COVID-19 Test
Effective January 26, 2021, all international travelers (both US and non-US passport holders) entering the US will be required to provide a negative PCR (polymerase chain reaction) COVID-19 test taken 72 hours before departure. Travelers who are not able to provide the COVID test will be denied boarding.
Ensure Your Visa is Up to Date if You Require One to Enter the US
Like passport services, third-party providers cannot assist with obtaining new visas, and travelers must submit in person. The majority of new visas will only be issued to travelers traveling for essential travel, life or death emergencies, and/or visiting immediate family members.
Indian Business Visas
Indian business visas have been reinstated. All business visas issued before March 2020 have been reinstated and can be used for travel. Please be advised this does not apply to business e-visas. Tourist and medical visas are still suspended for the time being. If a traveler needs either of those visas, they must reapply at their consulate directly.
Frequent Flyer Numbers and Loyalty Programs
COVID-19 has led to changes around frequent flyer and loyalty programs in the air, car, and hotel sectors.
Most airlines and large hotel chains have extended frequent flyer status through the end of 2021. For the most part, you will continue to be able to take advantage of your status in the same way as you were pre-pandemic.
In terms of miles or points expiration, most air/hotel rewards programs have extended those expiration dates; however, clients should check with their program providers for the most up-to-date information and dates.