Understanding the State Department’s Travel Alert

Understanding the State Department’s Travel Alert for Europe

Delta Airlines Atlanta airport check in
For Americans planning a trip abroad, State Department advisories can be confusing. Terms that may sound similar actually mean very different things for travelers.

In March, the State Department issued a Travel Alert for Europe. Alerts are issued for short-term events that the U.S. government believes Americans should know about when planning a trip. The current alert expires on June 20.

Travel Alerts are quite different from Travel Warnings, which the State Department also issues. The two are completely separate categories and are not interchangeable.

Travel Alerts

An alert does not warn against travel to a particular region or country. The State Department is not warning against traveling to Europe but is alerting Americans to be aware of potential risks and to be vigilant, as always.

It’s important to understand that the recent Travel Alert for Europe is in keeping with the longstanding Worldwide Caution that has been in effect for more than a decade.

A State Department alert offers the type of advice that travelers should keep in mind whenever and wherever they go abroad. That includes

  • being aware of your surroundings
    • especially during festivals
    • in crowds and when using mass transit
  • being prepared for additional security screenings
  • monitoring information on the ground and factoring that into travel plans
  • following the instructions of local authorities
  • and ensuring that family members know how to reach you in an emergency

Smart Traveler Enrollment Program

As part of preparations for a trip abroad, Travel Leaders recommends that Americans follow the advice of the State Department and register their plans through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.

Enrollment will make it easier for the State Department to contact a traveler if there’s a family emergency, as well as alert travelers to important information about places where they’re heading. The State Department also has a helpful Traveler’s Checklist on its website.

The safety of our clients is the top priority for all travel agents, who want to ensure that your long anticipated vacation goes off without a problem.

We closely monitor the State Department website for alerts for all destinations, including the ones most popular with clients. They work with respected hotels, resorts, cruise lines, tour operators and others to keep informed about security precautions and to guard the safety of clients.

All travelers, no matter what country they visit, can take precautions to help ensure their safety.

Those steps include

  • following your instincts to avoid risky areas,
  • checking with tour guides and hotel officials about any large gatherings
  • respecting the laws of the country
  • avoiding the display of
    • expensive looking jewelry
    • large amounts of money
    • or other valuables
  • checking medical insurance to make sure it covers overseas care and if it doesn’t, consider buying travel insurance
  • checking with your cell phone provider to see if your phone is capable of roaming on international networks.

We provide the most up to date information so that clients can make informed decisions about their travel plans.
Let us help you plan your next trip.

December News release: Security, CLEAR Program & WIFI

Delta Kiosk

Majority of Travelers Are Okay With Scanners, But Hands Off on The Pat Down!
By 2-to-1 margin, most Americans approve of using naked-image, full-body X-ray scanners for passengers going through airport security checks, but fewer than half support the new pat-down procedures, according to a new ABC News in Washington Post poll. 64% of U.S. travelers support using scanning machines.

Half as many are opposed and strong supporters outnumber strong opponents, also by 2-to-1. But when it comes to a full-body pat-down on travelers who decline the full-body scan, or whose electronic screening indicates a need for further examination, 48% see the new pat downs as justified.

Half say that the pat down goes too far, including a majority, 54%, of people who fly at least once a year. (Source: ABC News).

CLEAR Trusted Traveler Program is Back
The CLEAR Trusted Traveler Program is back and in business. The program speeds registered participants through a designated CLEARlane at security check points at participating airports, shut down at the end of 2009, when CLEAR and its parent company filed for bankruptcy.

It has relaunched with new owners and management. Members present their CLEARcards whose encrypted biometrics includes fingerprints and iris images, to verify their identity. It is relaunched in Denver and Orlando airports. (Source: CLEAR).

Recovering Economy Fuels Increase in Air Travel Spending
Air miles flown by passengers in the U.S. increased 7% in October and the average cost to fly one mile rose 10%, according to the latest figures from the Air Transport Association. It was the 10th consecutive month of revenue growth for airlines. U.S. airlines have added domestic seat capacity at an accelerated rate over the last 4 months, increasing 3% this November over last November, according to the aviation data company OAG.

Canada is lagging the U.S., however, and Mexico is still feeling the impact of Mexicana’s demise, with international flights into Mexico down 10% in frequency and 7% in seats. Frequency and seat capacity in Central America are down 18% and 17% respectively, since Mexicana went out of business. (Source: ATA, OAG press releases).

Front of the Plan Filling Up Internationally, But Growth in Seat Capacity Slows
On international flights, more travelers are flying in the front of the plane, according to the latest figures from the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Passengers flying in first and business class internationally rose 13.8% in July, according to figures IATA released last month. For the first half of 1010, even when including losses due to the volcano that shut down Europe in April, premium travel was up 11.9%.

This is more than double the average 45% growth in premium travel in the years before the recession. However, yields are still down from pre-crisis levels. (Source: IATA press release).

More WiFi in the Sky
Delta Airlines is installing onboard wifi on the 223 aircraft in its regional fleet operated by Delta carriers. This expands by 40% the number of Delta aircraft featuring GoGo in-flight internet service.

Meanwhile, Lufthansa is introducing in-flight wifi on long-haul intercontinental routes.

It will roll it out first on the North Atlantic and offer it free through the end of January. Lufthansa was an early adopter of in-flight Wi Fi, in 2003. (Source: Delta, Lufthansa press releases).