These laid off flight attendants are retraining to fight coronavirus
It’s not secret that COVID-19 has hit the airline industry hard, causing mass layoffs all around the world. In Sweden and the United Kingdom, laid off flight attendants are using their medical emergency training to help hospitals fight the coronavirus.
Heart, ambition and dedication – from our cabin crew in Norway. 💙We proudly announce our initiative to connect SAS cabin crew in Norway with the emerging needs within the healthcare sector during the corona crisis. pic.twitter.com/IIeA6CWpcH
— SAS - Scandinavian Airlines (@SAS) April 6, 2020
In Sweden and the UK, flight attendants for Scandinavian Airlines, EasyJet, and Virgin Atlantic typically have first aid training, and they are using it to help perform critical support roles at hospitals that have been established specifically to treat COVID-19 patients. This means they are taking on tasks like changing bedding, making patients comfortable, and other critical support roles. In exchange for their selfless volunteering, they are being offering free meals and accommodations.
In Singapore, jobless flight attendants are transitioning to new roles in communities to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of them are paired with law enforcement or stationed on streets to dissuade public gatherings and encourage people to learn about the virus. Others in Singapore are working in hospitals providing needed assistance to the medical community.
In the United States, workers who have been laid off or furloughed and feel called to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic can find volunteer programs in their individual states, or by searching at volunteermatch.org/covid19
The US has issued strict restrictions on passport renewals and applications
The US Department of State has stopped issuing new passports due to public health measures intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus, though there are some exceptions. Passport services in the US have been put on pause as the State Department issues strict restrictions on renewals and new passport applications. As of March 20, the State Department is only issuing passports to customers with a "qualified life-or-death emergency" who need to travel internationally within 72 hours. The measures were introduced following the global travel advisory warning US citizens against leaving the country. Citizens who qualify for an expedited "life-or-death emergency" passport must have a family emergency that requires them to travel outside of the US within 72 hours. Emergencies include serious illnesses, injuries, or deaths affecting a "parent, child, spouse, sibling, aunt, uncle etc.," according to a statement from the department. Travelers must present proof of the emergency, such as a death certificate, or a signed letter from the hospital or medical professional. Documents must be written in or translated into English. Additionally, travelers must present proof of travel, such as an airline ticket or itinerary. A near-empty O'Hare Airport in Chicago ©Scott Olson/Getty ImagesThose who applied for a new passport or a renewal before March 19 will still have their application processed. Usually, the process takes between two and three weeks but the department advised that significant delays are expected for now. Routine applications or renewal requests that come after March 20 will not receive expedited service. Some passport facilities, such as post offices, clerks of court and libraries, may still be accepting in-person passport applications. Customers are advised to contact their local facility to confirm the status of operations. As of March 25, a few post offices are requiring customers to schedule an online appointment with them ahead of time. The State Department has not yet confirmed when normal passport services will resume. However, it did warn that the "status of our operations may change quickly." Meanwhile, the deadline for American citizens to obtain driver's licenses or state identification cards that are Real ID-compliant in order to travel domestically has been extended until October 1 2021. This article originally ran on our sister site, Lonely Planet.
The US has announced a ban on travellers from Europe - so what does that mean?
The announcement of a United States travel ban for people who have been to most of Europe has caught many people by surprise. People walk through a sparse international departure terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) as concern over the coronavirus grows © Spencer Platt / Getty ImagesIn essence, if you’re not a “US passenger” – which mostly equals an American citizen or a US “lawful permanent resident” (see the exceptions below) – and you have been in the European countries in the Schengen Area in the prior 14 days, you can’t enter the US. In addition, it seems that US travellers who have been in the Schengen Area will be required to arrive via only select airports where extra health screenings have been set up. Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf says that details of this will be available only in the next 48 hours. To start with, please understand that there is a lot of uncertainty about the situation. The US Department of Homeland Security (the part of the government that contains the Customs and Border Protection agency) says they’re working from the official written Presidential Proclamation, which is not fully in line with what was announced in the presidential TV address. Who is affected? Travellers who have been in the Schengen Area The travel ban covers some people who have been to countries within the Schengen Area — the common travel area in continental Europe where there are no internal border checks — which doesn’t exactly correspond to the European Union. A new ban on travel from Europe to the US has been announced © FatCamera / Getty ImagesThe Schengen countries are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. Notably, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein are part of Schengen but aren’t members of the EU. The small city-states of Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City aren’t part of Schengen but have in practice opened their borders given that they are entirely surrounded by France or Italy. It’s unclear how these nationals will be treated. Note also that five EU members aren’t part of Schengen: Ireland opted out and maintains a common zone with the UK (and the UK is now outside the EU and Schengen), while Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania are looking to join Schengen but are not currently members. Again, it’s unclear how these nationals will be treated, especially with a growing outbreak in the UK. The “Schengen Ban” officially starts at 23h59 on Friday, 13 March, US eastern time, although there is a carve-out for flights that departed before that time. Who is affected? Mostly non-Americans, but with over dozen exceptions The proclamation acts “to restrict and suspend the entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of all aliens who were physically present within the Schengen Area during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States”. Aliens, in this case, largely means “people who aren’t US citizens”, but there are exceptions for more than a dozen categories of people: • US permanent residents • spouses of US citizens or permanent residents • parents/guardians of US citizens or permanent residents if that US citizen or permanent resident is under 21 and not married • siblings of US citizens or permanent residents if both the sibling and US citizen or permanent resident are under 21 and not married • children of US citizens or permanent residents (including foster children and wards, and certain prospective adoptees) • if the US government has invited you to travel in order “for a purpose related to containment or mitigation of the virus” • air or sea crew, or other non-immigrants travelling on C-1, D or C-1/D visas • members of the US armed forces, their spouses and children • several categories of diplomats and staff from international organisations like NATO and the UN There’s also an exception for a variety of people by approval of the US government, including: • any alien whose entry would not pose a significant risk of introducing, transmitting, or spreading the virus, as determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, through the CDC Director or his designee • any alien whose entry would further important United States law enforcement objectives, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees, based on a recommendation of the Attorney General or his designee • any alien whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their designees The full impact of the travel ban is unclear © Kiattisak Lamchan / EyeEm / Getty ImagesWhat does it mean for travellers? Overall, you’re considering travel and you are in a “might be affected” grey area — or even if you are not — the situation is quite difficult. In theory, your airline probably ought to reimburse you if you can't travel, but you will almost certainly need to be very persistent for that to happen. Your travel insurance may cover some of it, but again, it’s complicated and you’ll need a lot of time and effort. There’s a lot of “contact your airline” advice out there, and that’s good in theory, but expect call centres to be swamped, so try to do as much as you can online, via the airline’s app, and via social media. You may find it helpful to get an unlimited international calling plan if you’re going to be on the phone for hours and hours. Whether it’s airlines, airports, third-party security screening companies, US immigration officials, or a combination of all, administrating something like this consistently is enormously complicated. There is the potential for people who should, in theory, be allowed into the country, being denied boarding at overseas airports or being turned around on arrival in the US. You’ll need a lot of patience as everyone on both sides of the Atlantic works through these new rules. Currently, flights between the US and the UK and Ireland are still in operation. However, any travellers should stay up-to-date with information from their governments and airlines, as the situation is changing quickly and unexpectedly. The Republic of Ireland has just announced that the country could close its schools, colleges and cultural institutions until 29 March at the earliest, so the situation could change quickly. Keep up to date with Lonely Planet's latest travel-related COVID-19 news here. _____ This article first appeared on Lonely Planet, Budget Travel's parent company.
Coronavirus: a message from Lonely Planet’s CEO to travelers
Lonely Planet is committed to caring for the well-being of society and supporting response efforts all around the world. For the time being, we are concentrating our digital editorial focus to cover the urgent and fast-moving issues for travelers arising from the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. Please visit our dedicated coronavirus/COVID-19 section and follow us on social media for more coverage. At Lonely Planet, we realize that now is not the best time to travel to and from many places. As travel lovers, this is shaking us to our core; but we should all follow government advice and, as a further measure, consider if our journey is essential in the current context. While we keep you informed, we also invite you to continue to dream about the wonders of the world and prepare to travel when the time is right. We are writing some great stories to keep you inspired and entertained while at home. I personally love our recent wildlife webcams article, spotting animals for a few minutes was a much-needed distraction and a good reminder of how wonderful nature can be. Finally, to assist travelers where we can, we've increased the number of free previews on our mobile apps to 99 so that anyone who is away from home can access features like audio phrasebooks, transit maps, and essential info on any destination. Get our app here. We look forward to helping you realize travel plans very soon, and we’ll continue working to be prepared for this point too. Stay strong, informed and positive. ____ Lonely Planet is Budget Travel's parent company.
The founder of JetBlue is launching the “nicest airline in the world”
There’s no doubt about it, air travel can be stressful, and in recent times, videos and news reports have surfaced that tell tales of the worst sides of people coming out, whether its instances of companies treating passengers unfairly or arguments between flyers erupting mid-flight. What’s the remedy? Trying to inject some friendliness back into the industry again. One new company has announced that it’s on that very mission; to be the nicest airline in the world. Conceived by David Neeleman, founder of JetBlue, Azul Airways, Morris Air and WestJet, Breeze Airways will seek to prioritise kindness and niceness when it comes to hiring employees, with the company saying that it values the trait as one of the most important criteria for its future vision. Formerly known as Moxy, the company is currently applying for its airline operating certificate with the Federal Aviation Administration and US Department of Transportation, and hopes to be flying by the end of 2020. “Breeze will fly non-stop service between places currently without meaningful or affordable service,” said Breeze’s CEO and president David Neeleman. “Twenty years ago, we brought humanity back to the airline industry with JetBlue. Today, we’re excited to introduce plans for ‘the World’s Nicest Airline’.” According to the company, Breeze aims to be the nicest airline in the world © Colin Anderson Productions Pty Ltd / Getty ImagesBreeze will begin by serving mid-sized US city pairs that currently have no non-stop services. The company has ordered sixty new Airbus A220 jets, with deliveries beginning in April 2021, and has leased thirty Embraer 195 aircrafts. The former is suited to nonstop flights between mid-size destinations, while the latter can connect smaller places more cost-effectively. The airline is currently advertising for a range of jobs online. This article originated on our partner site, Lonely Planet.