Traveling in 2021

2020 was a challenging year for all of us. Not only we had (and we still are) facing Covid, however there were several other reasons, why it was extremely hard year. It started in January with the tremendous bush-fire in Australia, where more than 3 billion animals died and forests bigger than many of the countries in the World burned totally down. The fire was not causing only tremendous troubles in Australia, but later during the year also California was facing the same issue. In spring the harbor in Beirut, Lebanon blew up destroying almost everything close by and causing huge damage several miles across the city. The explosion was so huge and it killed many people and several of them were not yet found. Except of that we were facing tornados and floods, human crises in US with killing George Floyd, or humanity crises related to war and refugees. I did not mention yet the earthquakes in Croatia and Indonesia, the Locusts swam in East Africa or the airliner crashes in several countries causing big so much pain to so many people and destroying the reputation of Boeing 737 Max airplanes.

However the biggest crises in the travel industry was led by Covid 19 – a Pandemic situation, which infected millions of people, killed already hundreds of thousand, closed borders across the Globe and changed the way of traveling forever. Yes, I mean forever. Now already in 2020 all and I really mean ALL of the countries introduced some restrictions of traveling in. Let’s look at them in more details.

As you can see from the map above the majority of the countries is partially open. That partially means in general that you must have a negative PCR test, which is generally not older than 72 hours with you. However some of the countries have special limitation e.g. United States. You can’t travel to United States if you have been at least 14 days before traveling in any of the European countries. Of course there are exceptions, e.g if you have Family in the United States, or you are working in healthcare or you have some specify business need to travel there. However if you are a tourist, you can’t even fly in and stay on the airport to wait for your connecting flight. It’s simply not allowed. Canada introduced similar, but a bit lighter rules. You can stay at least on the airport, in the restricted zone to wait for your flight connection. This is really helpful, as if you are traveling a long distance towards America, generally you have to take a connection flight in US or Canada.

Anyway, each of the country has it’s specifics. In can you are interested in the details, please visit Kayak.com, where all restrictions by country are included. The map above is also from their site. Of course those restrictions are changing every day, therefore in case you want to be updated, you have to follow the site.

However another change will come soon. Vaccines are widely developed and distributed soon. The first Vaccine approved by USA and European Union was from Pfizer-BioNtech, which was already distributed to many countries. Except of that the Vaccine from Modena was approved already. The Oxford University-Astra Zeneca was just approved by UK and sent to hospital. The russian Vaccine Sputnik V was the first, which was given to people in Russia and Belarus. However this was not yet approved by the EU, therefore not yet given to any EU citizen. Of course the first people getting the Vaccine are people working in Healthcare, government critical people and older population. They younger adults (people before retirement) have to wait couple of weeks or months, which is creating another gap between traveling and current situation. Except of that the Vaccine from Pfizer-BioNtech has to be given twice, before it works. Between the 1st and 2nd injection people will have to wait at least 3 weeks. This is also creating another gap and postponing further travels.

Another reason why traveling is getting hit by hit is, than some airlines like the Australia airlines Qantas will require future international travelers to prove they have been vaccinated against Covid-19 before flying. For now the rest of the airlines do not require people to be vaccinated, however this might come.

2021 won’t be critical only from Covid perspective. As you might know Boeing is still facing issues due to their 737 Max airplane. Two of them crashed in 2018 and 2019, and after several investigation it turned out that they are not safe. Boeing was referring to a missing software update, however it seems that the issue was much bigger. They immediately lost their licence for the 737 Max airplanes in US, Europe and many other countries. Therefore they had to stop using those planes. After several months of research, testing and software updates they sent a request to the Federal Aviation Administration to get the licence back. After a deep check the F.A.A. agreed to allow those planes to fly in US. On Tuesday, December 29th the first plane from Miami to New York landed successfully. In the afternoon it flow back to Miami successfully as well. After those good news, they applied to the European Aviation Administration too. Boeing has scored some new orders for the Max in recent weeks. Ryanair, the low-cost European airline, agreed to buy 75 Max jets, and Alaska Airlines expanded an order by nearly two dozen planes.

But Boeing’s overall order backlog contracted by more than 1,000 planes in 2020. And the plane’s reintroduction is likely to be slowed as airlines struggle with the deep and sustained drop in demand for flights caused by the coronavirus pandemic. In the United States, airlines are generally carrying fewer than half as many passengers as they did a year earlier.

Before the plane was grounded, American operated more than 18,000 flights using the Max. It has 31 of those jets in its fleet, with 69 on order.

Like other airlines, American has said that, for now, it will allow passengers worried about flying on the Max to rebook their trip to avoid the plane or to receive credit for future travel. The airline’s approximately 2,600 Boeing 737 pilots will all be retrained to fly the Max, a process that involves classroom briefings and training in a simulator. In addition to F.A.A. oversight, each Max jet will be subject to internal inspection and a readiness flight before it carries passengers. Tuesday’s flight had capacity to seat 172 passengers — 16 in business class and the rest in economy.

United Airlines said it expects to start flying the Max on Feb. 11, out of Denver and Houston. The airline has already scheduled flights using the plane from Houston to Los Angeles, Orlando, San Diego and Tampa, and between Los Angeles and Orlando, according to Cirium, an aviation data company.

Alaska Airlines is scheduled to use the plane for some West Coast flights starting on March 1. Southwest Airlines, a major Boeing client that operates an all-737 fleet, has said it does not expect to fly the plane until the second quarter. Delta Air Lines does not use the plane.

It will be important to public perception of both Boeing and the Max that the first few months of flights be free of any major problems. Last week, Air Canada was forced to divert a Max plane being moved from Marana, Ariz., to Montreal because of engine trouble. The plane, which had only three pilots on board, landed without incident in Tucson, Ariz., the airline said on last Monday accordining to New York Times.

Except of those there are many other challanges we are/ will have to face in 2021. You can read more about them on my blog.

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