Welcome to the fifteenth episode of the Travel Well with Allan Wright!
In this week’s episode, Allan discusses even more airline travel updates in relation to COVID-19 – some good, some bad. Overall, we are making progress in being able to travel once again, even if the pandemic has not ended.
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Can’t watch the video right now? Here’s the video transcript of Testing for International Travel – Episode 13:
Hi, my name is Allan Wright. Welcome to the Travel Well with Allan video update. Today I’d like to talk again about airlines. But airlines are so crucial to the health of the travel industry so it’s important and we’ve got some new news on both the positive and negative sides.
First the negative, TSA statistics for the last five days are still showing there were around 31% of where we were last year. So the travel industry is staying low and not really recovering.
Second TSA has as a major priority to keep its own employees safe. It’s not really working. 1,927 of them have gotten sick with COVID, seven have died of COVID. So part of the problem is that that is a higher rate than the regular population. By my calculation, 3.8% of TSA’s staff have gotten ill as compared to about 2% of the general population.
However, it is sort of what you would expect because they are out there on the front lines and working in public. Nevertheless, it’s sobering.
Another negative piece of news is that two recent studies came out showing that people do get sick on airline flights. Now, these were international flights and they were in March before people were wearing masks. So I have to kind of say, yeah we knew that, that was pretty obvious. If people are sitting on an airplane next to each other not wearing masks then people are going to get sick.
Finally, there is no government support in line yet for the airline industry which means as of October 1st, we might be seeing massive layoffs. It’s possible something will still happen before then or soon after that but we don’t know.
Now, the positive. Major airlines have told us that their flight attendants are actually staying safe lower than 1% of flight attendants have gotten COVID-19 as compared to about 2% of the general population.
So that means airlines are doing a much better job than the TSA. Not surprisingly really we’ve seen the airlines focus on this with hugely. So it’s good to see if flight attendants can stay safe after doing many, many, many flights. It implies that passengers can remain safe as well.
United Airlines is actually starting to offer tests to passengers on one route San Francisco to Hawaii. You can do that by going into the airport and getting a 20-minute return test for only well $250 but maybe your insurance will pay and maybe that price will come down. Because you can also do it by mail for only 80 bucks and get a 48-hour turnaround. So it’s a positive step in the right direction.
Also, in that same vein is that JFK airport in New York and Newark airport in New Jersey are working with a private company called Express Check to provide testing on site at the airport for any passengers who want it. That’s exactly where we need to be going. When I looked at the website it wasn’t clear how fast those returns came back so if it means you’re waiting till the next day well that’s practically useless. Right? Because then you have to go to the airport twice but it does mean we’re getting in the right direction and I read a statement saying they’re expecting to have instant returns which would be a big deal. It still isn’t perfect because it’s not testing everybody so until you require everybody to get tested not just before they get on the airplane but before they go into the airport then when we have accurate fast return testing like that it will dramatically change the industry.
And the good news is we’re getting there so there is some good hope.