Politics of Travel: Two doses needed for U.S. Travel, Facial Recognition and Bobby McGee

Well well here we are, all looking forward to meeting in person current business partners and new ones in Orlando! And Please don’t think convention is all about networking and business opportunities, the Convention is where you learn about the latest trends, tools and thought leadership in the outstanding education sessions and GBTA Main Stage.

I am not going to lie, I was feeling a like  over the last couple of months, even after the September 20th announcement that something was coming in “early November” and then WHEW!. That said, please read below. If you are planning to come to the U.S. you MUST have two doses of a vaccine. Earlier this week, a CDC spokeswoman confirmed that people with just one dose would be excluded, regardless of whether they’ve also recovered from Covid-19. For our newcomers, please click on the blue hyperlinks, sure there are some songs and gifs, but there are also links to new articles. As always, happy reading/listening.

U.S. LIFTS TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS FOR VACCINATED: The email that came early Friday morning was like Peter from the Monkees sang “I’m a Believer”. The White House email informed us the issue we had been pushing for was about to have an ending. “Today’s announcement means that on November 8, foreign national air travelers to the United States will be required to be fully vaccinated and to provide proof of their vaccination status to fly to the United States. Fully vaccinated travelers will continue to be required to show a pre-departure negative test taken within three days of travel prior to boarding.

Also starting on November 8, foreign nationals crossing the land borders with Canada and Mexico or arriving in the United States by passenger ferry for non-essential reasons, such as to visit friends or family or for tourism, will be required to be fully vaccinated.”

This announcement came because of you and the entire global travel industry pushing through meetings, emails, phone calls, zoom calls and releases the message that science can lead the way. Thank YOU! GBTA Statement

U.S. DEFINITION OF FULLY VACCINATED: Earlier this week, Bloomberg Government examined some of the differences. To calm your nerves, the U.S. will accept WHO vaccines and mixed dose vaccines. However, the U.S. doesn’t recognize naturally occurring immunity from recovering from COVID-19. This is different than in France, in which an individual is considered fully vaccinated if they have had COVID AND one dose of a “two-dose vaccine” such as Moderna. The Bloomberg article is a paywall, but this article is similar We expect additional information to be released next week.

EU RAIL Pilots Facial Recognition: Some Customers will be invited by Eurostar to provide identity, passport and other details before travel. This will allow them to skip both the ticket check on arrival and U.K. passport control.

The trial is being conducted with the U.K.’s Department for Transport and there isn’t a fixed timeline to roll it out more widely, a Eurostar spokeswoman said.

I mention this as it is an effort towards frictionless travel and multimodal travel, which, I believe is a part of a larger conversation that will have a broad reach into multimodal, sustainability and passenger facilitation.

MOVING THE NEEDLE: Who says U.S. Congressional hearings are a waste of time? NOT ME! Last month , GBTA testified on ways to restart business travel. One of the items raised by GBTA’s CEO Suzanne Neufang was to BRING BACK HAND-CARRY to pre-pandemic expedited levels of service. As you frequent travelers know the Hand Carry Program allows for private companies to expedite the passport application process and get that needed visa or passport for that last minute business trip. This program has basically been shuttered by State.

This week Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS), Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Rick Scott (R-FL) sent a letter to the State Department, stating “A demand surge of at least ten million additional passport applications is anticipated this year,”. “The United States has faced many challenges throughout the pandemic, and now is the time for [State] to employ best practices and policies aimed at resuming safe and efficient international travel.”

A big shout out to the industry for helping me with the facts and figures! We continue to raise concerns with Visa processing and the backlog.

TELEVISED MIND: There is a lot more to discuss, but this week’s POT is a long one. So let me leave you with this, the U.S. Democrats believe they are close to moving the Hard Infrastructure and Soft Infrastructure packages – MAYBE, I keep seeing reports that say otherwise. Governments are prepping for the UN COP26. COVID cases are decreasing in the U.S. Hawaii has the lowest number of new cases relative to its population, followed by Florida and Louisiana. And that makes me believe it won’t just be me and Bobby Mcgee in Orlando.

Shane Downey
Vice President, Government & Community Relations
[email protected]
(O) 703 236-1131
(C) 703 459-7425