For business travellers, these days it can be tricky to maneuver connections via international airports. This is because different COVID-19 rules may apply to each destination and a detailed understanding is often required prior to booking and on the way to the final stop.
When making a flight arrangement, two options seem to work well- using a travel agent or going directly to the airline’s website.
Using an agent is preferred since the agent will have dealt with customers flying to and from various countries and likely keeps up-to-date with international rules. The agent can even suggest alternative routes, especially where the traveller’s departure country is on red list in the destination country.
If a traveller decides to purchase online, directly from the airline, then the traveller will also get a list of route options.
However, the traveller will have to figure out on his or her or own what are the current airline requirements and what are the current COVID-19 landing requirements for the destination country. This can take a little more work- any misunderstanding can land a traveller in quarantine, perhaps even messing up plans for a connecting flight.
Changes close to a flight date
As people have seen with the Omicron variant, once it was announced, some countries immediately changed their COVID-19 landing requirements from having a PCR test being taken 72 hours before a flight to 24 hours before a flight.
This could have been a tricky scenario for some people travelling long distances on 16-hour flights, with hours of further connections, who may not have been aware of the changes in the destination country and who may have had to face the new rules upon arrival.
Testing at or near airports
Luckily, in some places, PCR testing facilities are located at or near airports.
For example, near the Cancun airport, there are various places that produce PCR test results and a QR code within a matter of hours. The results are even emailed.
The convenience of PCR testing at or near airports is not to be underestimated.
It may mean the difference between onward travel and no travel.
Risk rests with traveller
Notwithstanding the challenges related to different rules in destination countries, ultimately, the traveller assumes the risk of everything, including having to quarantine due to new rules in the destination country.
A traveller may also lose a ticket for a connecting flight or have to pay penalties for a change to a connecting flight if he or she has to quarantine at the destination and he or she did not buy a flexible ticket or travel insurance to cushion these fees.
Even though a “special fare” may be cheaper or even a deal, it may not allow you to make the changes necessary in the some of these COVID-19 emergency circumstances.