Travel has seen some serious ups and downs (mostly the latter) over the last year, and it can be difficult to keep track of the changes. Travel has definitely made a big return this summer, and our agents have been keeping track of all the changes as travel gets back on its feet. If you're thinking of taking to the skies soon for your next trip, here are some tips based on our agents' experiences flying this summer.
First of all, airports are BUSY again, and so is the TSA. The days of near-empty airports and airplanes that we saw last year are over, and pent-up demand for travel means that you'll be seeing full flights in most cases. This means that you don't want to wait too long to purchase flights, especially to popular vacation destinations, or you might have slim pickings for departure times! This return surge of travel also means that the TSA is very busy, with long lines go through security. Make sure that you allow plenty of time to get to the airport and to go through security - preferably at least 3 hours. You may also want to consider investing in TSA Pre-Check, though keep in mind this only works for domestic airports in the U.S.
Speaking of crowds in the airports - while the demand has definitely returned for flying, not everything at airports is quite back to normal. In our recent flying experiences, the dining options at many airports haven't fully reopened, or may have more limited hours. You may want to bring snacks with you, especially if you have a layover, in case dining options in the airport are limited.
While airlines have largely done away with practices that we saw last year such as blocking out middle seats on flights, masks are still required in airports and on planes. While many places in the U.S. have seen the rollback of face covering requirements, federal law requires that guests age 2 and up wear a mask at all times in airports and throughout your flight. Make sure that you have face coverings for your trip, and for longer flights, make sure it's something that you can comfortably wear for long periods.
One of the most important things to check, especially before you fly internationally, is current travel requirements. While flying internationally always requires a passport, that's not enough to enter many international destinations right now. Many are requiring pre-travel COVID tests, travel authorizations, or proof of full vaccination, to name a few. These travel requirements also change frequently, so make sure to consult your travel agent on any travel requirements for your destination.
Another important tip if you're planning to fly internationally - if you don't have passports or need to renew your passport, you should do it AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Passport applications are facing a huge backlog, and current estimates put passport processing times at 18 weeks (that's almost 5 months!), and expedited processing times taking up to 12 weeks. If you're traveling anytime through next summer, don't wait to apply for or renew your passports.
Looking for more assistance on traveling now? Contact one of our Travel Pros!