Steve Weissman March 9, 2020

Travel Insurance

As the unfortunate Coronavirus situation continues to evolve, travelers are increasingly becoming concerned and turning to their travel professionals for advice.

One of the most common questions we have been getting recently is in regard to Travel Insurance. Being that most people have only a vague understanding of the product, we have put together a clear and simple directive. Our goal is to cut through the fluff by giving a quick, yet comprehensive overview that will help you make an educated decision.

So, let’s get right to the big question: Is Coronavirus covered by Travel Insurance?

In order to answer that, you need to have a general understanding of how travel insurance works.

Most plans are designed to cover two distinctly different situations;

  1. Losses incurred due to trip related cancellations and interruptions
  2. Medical emergencies or necessary evacuation that occur while on your trip.

When it comes to trip related losses, it is important to understand that standard plans only cover ‘Non-refundable’ portions of the trip. You can cover any non-refundable portion of your trip, including air, sea, and land and lodging. If the loss is refundable by the airline, operator or any other insurance, your travel insurance will not cover it.

Excluded Coverages

Your plan will detail very many items and scenarios that are excluded from the coverage, both trip related and medical. Make sure you read through the terms and conditions, and ask your carrier for clarification.

In the case of Coronavirus, the critical item to keep in mind is that the vast majority of travel insurance plans exclude epidemics, or what are called ‘Known Events’, from their medical coverage.

Since the Coronavirus has been declared an epidemic by CDC, WHO, US Dept of State and others, this will usually qualify as an excluded coverage if your plan was purchased after the epidemic was declared.

An exception to this would be the coverage offered by Seven Corners through Regal Wings, which does not exclude Known Events or Epidemics. You would be covered for Coronavirus related medical under this plan.

To quote the Seven Corners website: ‘If you become ill with Coronavirus while traveling, your medical expenses can be covered. If you require an emergency medical evacuation and repatriation due to Coronavirus, this can be covered.’

But wait… Doesn’t my policy cover ‘cancellations’?

Most cancellations covered in your standard policy are already covered by the airlines themselves. This means that if the airline cancels the flight they would be the ones refunding. Usually, when they are not obligated to refund, neither would the travel insurance. The principal reason these policies are so popular are mainly for the medical and trip interruption coverage.

So even if your policy includes ‘cancellation’, this coverage is very limited. It almost certainly does NOT include a cancellation due to your worries of contracting the virus while on your trip – even if the CDC has issued a travel warning or alert!

If you cancel, you would be responsible for all nonrefundable costs, including any cancellation fees.

CFAR (Cancel For Any Reason) Coverage

In order to be covered for preemptive cancellations (meaning when you decide to cancel even though the airline has not), you need to have a special policy called ‘CFAR’ (Cancel For Any Reason).

As its name implies, you can decide to cancel for any reason under the sun and still be covered – and fear of traveling due to the Coronavirus would definitely qualify.

If you are considering a CFAR policy, here is what you need to know:

  • The cost is between 40%-60% more than the base plan. (40% with Seven Corners)
  • Reimbursement only covers between 50%-75% of the prepaid, non-refundable trip payments. (75% with Seven Corners)
  • You are usually obligated to insure the entire nonrefundable portions of your trip, as opposed to just parts of the trip.
  • Coverage must be purchased within 7-20 days of your initial trip deposit. (20 days with Seven Corners)
  • You must cancel 2 days or more before your departure in order to be covered.
  • CFAR is not available to New York or Florida residents.

What are Airline Waivers?

Sometimes, instead of straight out cancelling a flight the airline issues a ‘waiver’. This means an airline grants permission for travelers who have already purchased airfare to cancel voluntarily for a full refund, or change their travel plans for a different date. Each airline and each set of circumstances in unique. They are also very date specific, which means they usually apply to a certain range of dates. Standard travel insurance plans will probably not cover your other nonrefundable travel changes or cancellations caused by your itinerary changes due to airline waivers.

If you have any questions about waivers for your particular itinerary, call your airline or agent directly.

Does credit card travel insurance include CFAR?

Short answer: NO.

At best, travel insurance included in your credit card benefits will be only as good as a basic travel insurance plan. This means that any preemptive cancellations due to your concerns will not qualify as a covered loss.

To sum it all up:

Airfare

If your trip is cancelled by the airline: When airlines cancel (or gives waiver) they typically refund the ticket, subject to their terms and conditions. Therefore, Travel Insurance would not apply since it’s not a ‘nonrefundable’ loss. However, you would be reimbursed in most instances for other covered nonrefundable trip related losses, such as cruises, hotels or missed connections.

If you are thinking of cancelling because of your fears: Unless you have CFAR, you are probably not covered at all. Unless your departure date is within the next week or two, your safest bet is to wait it out and see what happens.

Medical

The medical portion of the insurance is probably the most relevant coverage on a standard policy, but you need to find out from your carrier if Coronavirus related medical emergencies are included or excluded.

If excluded, it would then depend on when you purchased your plan for coverage in a particular region; depending on when/if the virus has been declared a ‘known event’ in that region.

Seven Corners does not exclude Known Events or Epidemics, and you would be covered for Coronavirus related medical under their plan.

I hope this article has answered your questions and given you some clarity. Although I have experience in travel insurance, I hope my humble knowledge is accurate. If you have any critical feedback, please reach out to me and let me know. I would love to hear from you!

Steve Weissman is the CAO of Regal Wings, and can be contacted at steve@regalwings.com

New routes began Winter 2019 and summer 2020

Lufthansa began offering many new long-haul destinations including 11 new routes from North America.

Seats in Economy Class and Premium Economy Class will be available on all flights booked via Lufthansa and, from mid-March 2020,* you will also have the choice of Business Class seats. Although Business Class seats can be booked immediately

In October of 2019, Lufthansa had been flying from Frankfurt am Main to Windhoek, to Las Vegas and to the Caribbean island of Barbados. Beginning in the summer of 2020, passengers will be able to fly to Las Vegas and Orlando from Munich as well as travel from Frankfurt to Anchorage in Alaska or Phoenix in Arizona.

Also, beginning in the summer of 2020, Lufthansa will be flying from Dusseldorf to other attractive long-haul destinations regular flights to New York. Miami and Fort Myers . In addition, from 29 March 2020 a connection to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic will feature in the timetable.

China Southern Airlines passengers connecting in Guangzhou may now enjoy complimentary star-rated hotel accommodation

Passengers flying with :
 
China Southern Airlines operating flights.
China Southern Airlines international code-sharing flights.
China Southern Airlines domestic code-sharing flights operated by Chongqing Airlines or Xiamen Airlines that connect with China Southern Airlines international flights or China Southern Airlines international code-sharing flights.

Passengers must go China Southern Airlines Accommodation Counter near Gate No.50 on the 1st floor of Bai Yun International Airport Terminal 2 for hotel reservations.

Currently, passengers may choose from the Pullman Hotel, the Dong Fang Hotel, the holiday Inn Guangzhou Airport Zone, the Dragon Lake Princess Hotel, the Guangzhou H.J. Grand Hotel, the Guangzhou Hao Yin Gloria Plaza Hotel , the Civil Aviation Hotel and the Hexing Hotel etc. There is a list of 29 available hotels.

British Airways unveiled its long-awaited new business class seat, which launched on the carrier’s first A350 aircraft in July.

Branded the Club Suite, the product features a sliding door, 40 per cent more storage, and a 1-2-1 layout with direct aisle access for all passengers. New features include a vanity unit and mirror, IFE screen measuring between 17 and 18.5 inches depending on the aircraft, with the ability to watch inflight entertainment from gate-to-gate, and PC / USB power ports.

The new British Airways Club Suite

The current Club World ying-yang layout has been replaced by a Collins Aerospace Super Diamond seat in a herringbone formation. As the seatmap below shows, there will be 56 Club Suites in the A350 Club World cabin, along with another 56 World Traveller Plus seats, and 219 in World Traveller.

British Airways A350 Club Suite seatplan

World Traveller Plus will benefit from new furnishings including a new pillow and warm quilt and new amenity kit, and the A350 aircraft will have wifi throughout.

It’s important to note that the new suite will initially only be available on a fraction of BA’s long-haul aircraft, with four A350 deliveries expected this year, as well as two retro-fitted B777-200s.

BA says that it will roll out the new product “in a carefully managed programme designed to minimise disruption to customers”.

The new British Airways Club Suite

The A350 operated on selecteded short-haul crew familiarisation flights to Madrid during August and September, before being rostered onto selected services to Toronto and Dubai during October.

Beyond that the carrier will begin to roll out the Club Suite “on further long-haul aircraft across the network” from the start of 2020.

Positive reviews for the new seat when it launches will be crucial – in recent years BA’s current Club World product has been overtaken by carriers offering direct aisle access, sliding doors and the latest IFE systems. For our comprehensive business class seat guide, detailing the products on major airlines worldwide, see:


Virgin Atlantic has unveiled its brand new Upper Class suite which will launch on the carrier’s A350-1000 aircraft this summer.

There will be a total of 44 Upper Class suites on the A350, with passengers benefiting from “a deep mattress and the thickest pillow in the sky”.

Upper Class customers will have access to the new A350 social space The Loft, which features a 32-inch TV screen, with the ability to connect individual headsets via Bluetooth.

The Loft on Virgin Atlantic's A350-1000

The carrier has moved away from its current herringbone Upper Class layout (where seats face into the cabin), to a new 1-2-1 configuration with seats facing outwards towards the windows.

Features include a 44-inch seat pitch, with the seat converting into a fully flat bed measuring up to 82 inches, and the carrier stresses that “All suites will transition seamlessly from an upright seat, straight to a bed”, meaning no more having to get out of the seat to flip it over into bed mode.

The new Upper Class suite on Virgin Atlantic's A350-1000


There is an 18.5-inch screen, with passengers able to control the IFE system through their personal devices, and “a deployable privacy screen”.

Virgin Atlantic announced a brand new daily service between London Heathrow and Tel Aviv starting in September 2019.

With 180,000 seats each year, the new service offers seamless connections and enjoyable long-haul experiences for customers travelling from Tel Aviv, via London Heathrow, to destinations throughout North America – across both the Virgin Atlantic and Delta networks, including New York, Seattle, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The Tel Aviv flights commenced on September 25th 2019, with tickets going on sale from February 25th. Upper Class customers will have access to the new A350 social space The Loft, which features a 32-inch TV screen, with the ability to connect individual headsets via Bluetooth. Find out more on the Virgin Atlantic website.

Philippine Airlines marks another milestone in aviation history as the first airline to offer a direct nonstop service to the NYC from the Philippines.

A brand-new PAL Airbus A350-900 commenced the historic flight which departed Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport for a 16-hour nonstop journey across the North Polar regions, landing at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on the evening of the same day.

For his part, PAL VP Sales Ryan Uy noted brisk sales for this newest product offering. “People wanted to experience the much-talked-about A350 aircraft, to sample the spacious cabins and enjoy the fine dining and wide choices of video entertainment. The new route on the A350 flight fly directly to the U.S. East Coast, with no more time-consuming stop-overs and no inconvenient transfer connections along the route.

Tourists and balikbayans based in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut states will now find it easier and more convenient to visit the Philippines. Prior to the new PAL service, Manila-bound passengers had to go through intermediate stop-overs in Canada, the U.S. West Coast or airports in other Asian countries, usually by connecting from one flight to another.

The PAL service between Manila and New York City gives passengers the flexibility to choose from a wider selection of departure days.

From October 29 to November 3, PAL will operate a four times weekly service (Monday / Tuesday / Thursday / Saturday) from Manila to New York.

PR126 departs from Manila at 8:10PM and arrives in New York JFK at 11:15PM (local time) on the same day. By November 5, Manila departure will shift to 9:00PM and arrival in New York JFK remains at 11:15PM. Starting December 6, PAL will start serving the MNL-NYC route five times weekly with the introduction of the 5th frequency (every Wednesday).

From October 30 to November 5, PAL will serve the New York to Manila route four times weekly (Tuesday/ Wednesday / Friday / Sunday).

All PAL flights to New York will depart from NAIA Terminal 2. PAL flights from New York will arrive at NAIA Terminal 1.
(However, PAL flights to and from Canada, i.e. Vancouver and Toronto, will use NAIA Terminal 1 as their point of departure and arrival in Manila.)

The new long-range A350 that will serve the Manila-JFK route boasts outstanding characteristics:

— Can fly up to 8,000 nautical miles (14,800 km) and boasts a quieter cabin up to 4 times less noise, making it the quietest twin-aisle aircraft to date
— Has an all-new design and state of the art technology, with the aircraft’s advanced Rolls Royce Trent XWB engines producing unparalleled range and efficiency 
— Has a light weight but very strong structure which also costs significantly less to maintain: 70% of which is made of advanced material including 53% composite
— Offers Wi-Fi service for all passengers (subject to time and volume caps), with affordable renewal plans
— Features special LED mood lighting, customized especially for PAL, giving passengers a more intimate in-flight experience that helps them adjust to time zone and day vs. night changes

PAL A350 BUSINESS CLASS
The Business class cabin – with 30 seats configured in 1-2-1 format so that every single passenger enjoys direct access to the aisle – offers a seat pitch of 44 inches and seat width of up to 24 inches. The seat – which reclines to a full-flat bed measuring 78 inches in length – has an adjustable air cushion to adjust seat firmness, lumbar massage feature, additional storage for personal items, power ports and augmented reading lights.

PAL A350 PREMIUM ECONOMY
The Premium Economy class has 24 seats in a 2-4-2 configuration in an exclusive cabin. Seat pitch is at 38 inches and seat width is at 19 inches. Premium Economy seats – which have a recline of up to 8 inches – are equipped with legrest and footrest, additional front pockets for personal items, bottle holders, reading lights and power ports.

PAL A350 ECONOMY
The Economy class cabin – with a total of 241 seats in a 3-3-3 configuration – offers passengers roomier leg space and greater seating comfort with a seat pitch of 33 inches and seat width at 18 inches; plus a recline of up to 6 inches. Features include a 4-way headrest and USB power ports.

In the pipeline for the Philippines’ only 4-Star Global Airline are new services to other destinations in North America and / or Europe as more A350 aircraft join the fleet. Seattle, Chicago and a point in Western Europe are being eyed

Singapore Airlines (SIA) has launched the world’s longest commercial flight, between Singapore and New York.

The non-stop flight between Singapore and New York departed Changi International Airport on 11 October 2018 at 2337hrs (SIN time) and arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport a day later, at 0529hrs (US Eastern time). The flight duration was 17 hours 52 minutes.

Operated by the all-new Airbus A350-900ULR (Ultra Long Range), the route will initially run 3x per week, departing Singapore on Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Daily operations commenced on the 18th of October after additional A350-900ULR aircraft entered service.

To commemorate the inaugural flight, customers departing from Singapore were treated to an evening of performances and an assortment of food and beverages at a special boarding gate event. Customers also received an exclusive goodie bag containing a commemorative certificate and a pair of SIA-branded Bodum glasses.

Designed with the customers’ well-being in mind, sleep strategies and specific cabin lighting settings to enhance cabin ambience for rest and relaxation were also introduced. The aircraft is designed with higher ceilings, larger windows and an extra wide body to help reduce jetlag and ensure that customers feel well rested and relaxed upon arrival.

Customers also have greater control over their in-flight entertainment (IFE) experience with myKrisWorld – a world-first IFE personalisation offering that provides content recommendations based on customer preferences and viewing history. KrisFlyer members are able to save and resume content, create playlists, and customise their preferences on myKrisWorld for subsequent flights. In addition, KrisFlyer members will have access to 200 additional hours of in-flight entertainment content. This is on top of the more than 1,000 hours of existing in-flight entertainment offerings.

Customers can also experience high-speed in-flight WiFi service on Singapore Airlines’ new A350-900ULR aircraft. Equipped with Panasonic Avionics’ new satellite modem that operates with its third generation satellite network, the service is capable of delivering higher-speed Internet to customers. Currently available on A350-900ULR aircraft in Singapore Airlines’ fleet, this service will be progressively introduced on other aircraft that are equipped with Panasonic Avionics’ Internet and mobile in-flight connectivity.

SIA is the world’s first customer for the new A350-900ULR, with seven firm orders with Airbus. The aircraft will be configured in a two-class layout, with 67 Business Class seats and 94 Premium Economy Class seats.

The aircraft will also be used for new non-stop flights between Singapore and Los Angeles, which are to be launched on 2 November 2018, as well as to increase services on the existing Singapore-San Francisco route. By the end of the year, SIA will have 27 non-stop flights per week between Singapore and the United States.

High-resolution images of the A350-900ULR in Singapore Airlines’ livery can be downloaded from: https://bit.ly/2rXYbIK.

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