New Steps for Safer Travel

As the COVID-19 pandemic reshapes travel, AAA and partners are taking steps to help ensure guests’ safety and security.

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AAA and its trusted hotel, tour and cruise partners are working hard to make sure that when you travel, you can do it confidently and safely. As part of its safe-travel effort, AAA has joined the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), whose mission is to ensure that global travel is seamless, secure, safe, inclusive and sustainable.

“Many people can’t wait to travel, and they want to travel as soon as they feel it’s safe,” says Debbie Haas, vice president of travel for AAA.

The WTTC has developed a vision for its Safe & Seamless Traveller Journey initiative, which would enable a smooth and secure experience. Optional systematic biometric technology (for example, eye scans) at each stage of the journey would replace today’s manual identity verifications. Such contactless processes could also help prevent virus transmission among travelers. And when a vaccine is created, a digital health stamp could be used as a form of certification.

“We will continue to see innovations in the coming months and years that help travelers do more and worry less,” says Haas. “As travel protocols continue to improve, AAA Travel Advisors can help you sort through the range of travel options so you can make informed decisions.”

As hotels, tour operators and cruise lines implement their new safety and security practices, here are some of the changes you could encounter as you begin to travel again. Additional resources include the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of State—Bureau of Consular Affairs.


“Hotels have been working really hard to make sure they can provide the safest experience possible,” says Haas.

The hospitality industry is:

  • Increasing hygiene protocols related to disinfecting common areas.
  • Providing hand sanitizer at locations throughout hotels.
  • Using advanced disinfecting processes.

“Many hotels are even saying, ‘Our default’s going to be: Once you check in, we’re not going to enter the room unless you ask us to,’” says Haas. “That becomes something within your control as a traveler.”

The WTTC has devised a set of best practices to help guide hotels as they provide an increased focus on health, safety and physical distancing. These best practices include improving food safety in restaurants; enhancing cleaning and physical distancing for meetings and events; and using technology for contactless payment where possible.


“Air carriers are also revamping their practices to improve passenger safety—from check-in to baggage claim,” says Haas.

Some airlines have begun:

  • Holding center seats open.
  • Electrostatic spraying at the gate, on the plane and at baggage claim.
  • Using face masks from check-in through the flight.
  • Placing hand sanitizer stations throughout public areas of airports.

Tour Operators

“Our tour operators are working with experts around the world to provide a healthy and enjoyable travel experience for their guests,” says Haas. “Whether it’s offering more flexibility in changing your plans closer to your travel date or adding a special wellness director, our partners are putting their guests’ well-being and enjoyment first.”

Tour operators are also:

  • Disinfecting motor coaches often and making hand sanitizer available.
  • Operating tours with smaller groups and keeping some seats on coaches empty to enable social distancing.
  • Offering private sedan service to take guests to and from the airport.
  • Customizing itineraries to allow you to travel only with your family, friends or bubble.


“Major cruise lines are working with the CDC to develop new practices for safety and health,” says Haas. “Cruise operators are taking many steps even before the first passenger sets foot onboard.”

CDC cruise guidelines were not set, but measures may include:

  • Scheduling arrival to the terminal by appointment.
  • Aligning terminal hours of operation with ship arrival and debarkation times to reduce unnecessary terminal traffic.
  • Conducting once-daily temperature checks for guests and crew onboard.
  • Implementing enhanced sanitation protocols.
  • Providing transparency to guests, should another passenger test positive.

“Guests will notice some changes in their cruise experience,” says Haas. “They will likely undergo pre-embarkation screening with touchless temperature technology; have no-touch food and beverage service; and enjoy more space onboard the ship and on more structured shore excursions, because of a reduced number of passengers onboard.”

This story was featured in the
November/ December 2020 issue of AAALiving Magazine

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