Wall Street Journal
Sudden border closures. Quarantines. Given the new risks, the days of improvised trips for business or pleasure have become endangered in the Covid-19 era. The new Omicron variant did more than prompt governments to quickly close borders and tighten Covid-19-related travel restrictions. It signaled that health disruptions are here to stay as a normal part of travel concerns, right along with storms, strikes and terrorism. “The casualness of travel is gone. I don’t think it’s coming back,” says Jay Sorensen, president of travel consulting firm IdeaWorksCompany. He thinks 2019 will be viewed as the high-water mark for jumping on a plane spur-of-the-moment and taking a trip to another continent without care or concern. Mr. Sorensen issued a report last week to travel-industry clients suggesting that airlines, hotels and others are going to have to bear more risk of disruption if they want people to keep traveling. Change-fee penalties and nonrefundable reservations got temporary waivers during the pandemic, but they have already started creeping back in, making the consumer largely responsible for losses from unexpected disruptions. Instead, he thinks travel companies are going to have to bear more risk to entice travelers, either by making reservations refundable or by providing insurance that will accommodate health risks and fears at airline expense.