The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected general aviation flights left and right for the past year, with many international vacation flights being most heavily impacted. Escorted-tour groups have seen downturns, but Air Journey, a Florida-based tour operator, has recently resumed tours to certain Caribbean destinations.
The company’s COVID-19 protocols serve as models for travel safety in the near future, and set perhaps the highest standards for all pilots and their passengers to follow.
The company also uses strict guidelines during the trips. Open-concept hotels—those with hallways open to the elements—and/or resorts with free-standing or bungalow-style housing—are the rule. Smaller hotels at secluded or rural sites are preferred, as are hotels with COVID-19 protocols in place. Private transfers from airport to hotel and back are provided, dining takes place in open-air or outside settings, and daily temperature checks are made at breakfast. Masks and hand sanitizer are provided, and social distancing is also observed.
Prior to the return flight to the United States, Air Journey provides rapid antigen tests within seven days of departure, with negative results required. (Effective January 26, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention require GA pilots and their passengers, including family and friends, to have an NAAT or antigen viral test no more than three days before entering the United States from a foreign country and provide proof of the negative result or documentation that they have recovered from the virus.)
Air Journey has resumed operations, beginning with tours to such locations as the Dominican Republic and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Trips to farther-ranging destinations remain on hold for the time being.