WAKE COUNTY, North Carolina – Thanksgiving week was the busiest week at Raleigh-Durham International Airport since the start of the pandemic. According to an RDU spokesperson, 246,000 passengers passed through the airport from Monday to Sunday. This is compared to 103,000 last year. But what’s not clear is how the new omicron COVID-19 variant will impact future trips.
What would you like to know
The omicron COVID-19 variant was first identified a few days ago in South Africa
New travel restrictions from South Africa and several other countries began on Monday
The variant has already been detected in Great Britain, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Israel, the Netherlands, Australia and Hong Kong
Andrew Sawyer, travel consultant for Wilcox Travel, says 60-70% of his clients travel for humanitarian reasons and he already has to rework the trips.
âA lot of my clients are traveling for aid workers or missionaries or doing a job for good,â Sawyer said. “I helped a family a few weeks ago take a trip to a very remote part of India to complete an adoption they were doing, humanitarian work all over the world.”
After working for several years at RDU, Sawyer is no stranger to rolling with the punches that the pandemic has presented.
âIt’s another part of figuring out the pieces,â Sawyer said. “How to travel safely? How can we achieve the travel goals that people have? How do we work in the frameworks that are there to ensure the safety of people? “
He heard about the omicron COVID-19 variant on Thanksgiving Day.
âThe impacts when we returned to the office this morning after a statutory holiday weekend were there. We have had trips that have had to cancel. We had people working this weekend changing reservations and rerouting people from countries where travel bans have already been re-enacted, âSawyer said.
Trying to keep tabs on changing regulations for hundreds of countries is complicated to say the least.
âWe have also had people who have had to reorient their travels around some trips to southern Africa. We also had people who had to change their route to get home, âSawyer said.
Sawyer says it’s more important than ever to read the fine print before booking and check for trip reorganization or cancellation fees.
âPlanning trips right now is more complicated than before the pandemic, so you really need to do your homework,â Sawyer said. âYou have to understand the risk and the reward of the trip you are preparing to book. You want to research what the penalties are. So you want to find out how you can make changes, not only are the changes billed, but how do you make the changes? “
“There are a lot of ways to book travel, but travel agents have the flexibility to work with you and do things so that you don’t stay on hold for four hours with another business or find yourself lost.” , Sawyer said. .
Sawyer says that if you are traveling overseas, it is a good idea to find the United States Embassy website for where you are going. This site will give you easy to understand travel guidelines when it comes to COVID-19 restrictions.