Expert advice on travel insurance for holiday flyers
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Millions of Americans are traveling to their holiday destinations despite the latest COVID surge. AAA estimates more than 109 million people will travel 50 miles or more between now and January 2. More than 6 million are expected to fly — a 184% increase from last year, the organization said.
With so many travelers returning to the skies as the coronavirus pandemic persists, CBS News senior travel adviser Peter Greenberg told “CBS Mornings” that airports will be busy and understaffed.
“First of all, you’ve got to pack your patience. Understand the staffing levels are still a problem at airports, airlines, hotels, restaurants, anywhere you need to go. They’re not going to fix those staffing problems until March or April of next year at the earliest. So you know, get ready for delays, either way you look at it. And of course the intangible — weather,” said Greenberg.
Just as the holiday season kicked off in late November, cases of the Omicron variant began to appear. It is now the dominant strain in the U.S. and is spreading fast.
Greenberg said international travel has begun seeing an impact with the latest surge in COVID-19 cases, but that doesn’t mean people are just staying home.
“On international trips, people are canceling their trips. But that doesn’t mean they’re going to not travel. In fact, they’re rebooking on plan B or plan C of their destination in this country. In fact, U.S. airlines were reporting no uptick in cancelations,” Greenberg said.
For those who do make a trip overseas, there may be changes in the designated country’s testing policies so Greenberg recommends doing extensive research before you go.
“They’re not just changing on a daily basis, they’re changing on an hourly basis,” he said. “My advice: this is not the time to just go online to the CDC or a consulate for a country. Get on the phone and have a conversation with a travel agent or travel adviser who can walk you through the latest or you could be disappointed.”
While travel insurance seems like a good idea in these uncertain times, Greenberg said it can be complicated to handle online due to different policy agreements and languages. He advises travelers to contact an airline or travel representative to get a full understanding of what the agreement entails.
Some travel insurance won’t cover the expenses if a person tests positive for COVID-19 during their trip. According to Greenberg, some countries like Costa Rica and Turks and Caicos are requiring all travelers to purchase an insurance policy in case of a positive test result.
Meanwhile, resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean are doing the opposite and telling travelers that they will cover quarantine expenses.
“They’ll pay for you to quarantine at their expense and at their location, and they’ll fly you back. Again, this requires conversation. You don’t do this online,” said Greenberg.