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COVID Travel,  Travel Tips

Travel Companies Successfully Handling COVID-19

I try to travel, despite the difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While I haven’t gone far or often, I’ve had some opportunities to explore my own country over the past year with various travel companies. Some of these trips were successful, others were a bit challenging. The reason for this, ultimately, came down to the travel companies I booked with and their COVID policies and procedures. Because of this, I wanted to dedicate a post to travel companies that impressed me in their handling of COVID-19. 

Delta Airlines

First and foremost, I would like to give a shout-out to the first of the travel companies: Delta airlines. Prior to the pandemic, I flew with them often and I enjoyed their service. However, this summer, I was unsure what to expect when I boarded my flight home to New York.

Booking & Ticketing

I had only flown with one other airline since COVID-19, and that company didn’t particularly impress me with their procedures. (Read the story here). All flights had free cancellation, with either fully refundable or changeable options.

In addition, there was online check-in, including baggage check, prior to take-off. Tickets are available on your phone after you check in. You may print a copy at a self-serve kiosk as well (which agents come to wipe down in between users). These kiosks are where you print your baggage tag, which you place yourself. Then follow directions to drop your bag on a moving belt nearby. While this process promotes safety and social distancing, there are Delta representatives standing around the area, should you need assistance.

Boarding/Unboarding & In-Flight Procedures

At the gate, Delta has committed to boarding the plane from back to front. This is to limit contact, and work to ensure there is space between each individual during the process. Travel agents don’t touch your phone (or paper ticket if you choose to go that route); you scan it yourself. When you board the plane, they hand out pre-packaged sanitizing wipes. 

The middle seats are empty for social distancing purposes. Everyone is required to wear a mask. Prepackaged food and bottled water were available during the flight as well. Debarking procedures mimicked boarding, with the front of the plane leaving before the back, and spacing maintained between passengers. 

Hilton Hotels

Hilton is a favorite of mine, particularly because of its lucrative reward program, adjusted recently, on account of COVID-19. I hoped that Hilton would continue to impress when I booked with them both during my trip over this past summer, and for a short trip I took over Columbus Day weekend. (Read about my summer trip here).

Hilton’s website boasts precautions such as online check-in and the use of a digital key (through the app). They guarantee “Hilton CleanStay,” which is a commitment to fully sanitize the room, specifically high touch areas like door handles. Lastly, they state that their food and beverage services have been changed to promote social distancing and contactless service.

Online Check-in & Digital Key

During my two aforementioned trips, I checked in to a total of ten hotels affiliated with the brand. Online check-in was consistently available at every hotel I booked with.
The digital key was available at the large majority of the hotels. The few that didn’t have it noted so in the “hotel details” section when booking online at hilton.com. When I asked the front desk about this, they said it had to do with the age of the hotel. Apparently, some of the older guest room locks did not yet have the technology.
When I was able to use the digital key, however, I absolutely loved it! I checked in on the app, chose the room I wanted, and downloaded the key right onto my phone. I was able to enter the building and go right up to my room. When I held my phone to the door, with the Hilton app open, the door unlocked automatically for me. I must say it was pretty great!

Hilton's "CleanStay"

The fully sanitized Hilton hotel rooms live up to their expectations. Paper or plastic covers are on the remotes, television buttons, handles, and a lot of different surfaces in the bathroom. Stickers across the front door state that “this area has been cleaned for your protection.” All of this combined offers a degree of certainty that the room was, in fact, sanitized appropriately.

Food

The food situation varied from hotel to hotel. I was traveling through the United States, and each state had different regulations for food service during the pandemic. It was due to these variations that the service differed across the Hilton’s I stayed at.

Some hotels only offered “to-go” food. Other hotels offered a sit-down restaurant service, where I was allowed to remove my mask at the table. Other hotels had buffets, with servers wearing masks and gloves. One hotel, which usually has a free continental breakfast, opted to have a grab-and-go brown-bagged breakfast.

Regardless, I always felt the hotel was doing its best to make do with an unfortunate situation. One thing that was consistent across all hotels I stayed with was that the bars were all closed. Any type of food service that was available was limited when compared to what the accommodation was used to serving.

Booking Flexibility

One last thing to note about Hilton is in regards to booking. Changes and cancellation policies have become extremely flexible. Almost all bookings are free to cancel and fully refundable until 48 hours prior to your trip.

It is one of the most flexible policies out there, and it is one of the many reasons I love this travel company. For more information on Hilton’s COVID-19 safety policies and procedures click here (link will direct you to hilton.com).

eco-friendly travel
eco-friendly travel

Amtrak

I absolutely love how Amtrak is choosing to handle the pandemic. I’m sure what they are doing is not easy, and likely cost them the opportunity to make more money. However, seeing that always gives me hope because it says a lot about a travel company’s values.

Booking Options

First and foremost, Amtrak allows complete flexibility for all trips booked between now and the end of March. You can change your booking without fees if you need to move your trip due to COVID. Additionally, bookings are very limited to allow for complete social distancing. If you are traveling alone, the seat next to you will remain empty. However, you are still able to sit next to your travel companions if you happen to be traveling with others.

You are also able, on a number of routes, to reserve a private room to maximize distancing and safety! I tend to have a difficult time putting up the additional money to upgrade my travel class on trains or planes. My theory is that the more money saved, the more trips I can take in the future! However, especially with the pandemic happening now, I may have to try it if I take more than just a short trip between Manhattan and Philadelphia (which is the typical trip I take using Amtrak).

Additional COVID Protocols

 Social Distancing and masks are a requirement at Amtrak stations and on the trains. The website states there are cleaning protocols at all stations and an air filtration system onboard.

Ticket purchasing (as well as all onboard purchasing) has become cashless, as you can purchase tickets in advance online or on the app to limit contact with Amtrak travel agents. E-tickets scanned prior to boarding require no one touching your device.

Doors aboard the train activate by movement to limit touching, and boarding and disembarking encourage social distancing. Lastly, food and beverage services are a takeaway service, with the exception of a few long-distance routes where sit-down services remain with safety and social distancing protocols in place.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car

My experience with rental car travel companies varies. I’ve had plenty of positive experiences with clean rentals from a number of car companies. I’ve also had experiences with others when I’ve been sorely disappointed upon receiving my rental car. Enterprise themselves have always offered satisfactory service in the past, which is why I chose to book with them when I needed a rental during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Enterprise's "Complete Clean Pledge"

The thing that impressed me the most about Enterprise was how clean the rental was when I went to pick it up. The car was absolutely spotless and it even smelled clean! The company website promises a “Complete Clean Pledge,” which guarantees diligent cleaning and sanitizing of their vehicles. From the state of the car, Enterprise appeared to live up to their promise.

The Rental Pass

Other protocols include easy online booking and free cancellation. In addition, advanced online check-in is now available to help streamline the rental process and minimize in-person contact with others. You are able to provide your information and enter payment details to receive an online “rental pass.” This rental pass is brought to the rental counter in order to obtain the keys to your car. Curbside pickup, or even delivery, to allow for even more social distancing is also available at many different locations. Check out the rest of Enterprise’s COVID-19 policies here (link will direct you to enterprise.com).

AirBnB

Now, AirBnB doesn’t have a lot of control over individual properties’ cleanliness, due to the way it operates. However, AirBnB holds its hosts and their properties to pretty high standards during COVID-19, which I appreciate. AirBnB has a 5-step cleaning procedure they want all of the rentals to undergo to ensure a sanitary stay for its customers. Hosts who commit to this cleaning procedure are “enhanced clean verified” on the reservation page, which you can see before you book.
Another benefit to booking with AirBnB during the pandemic is the privacy, away from crowded hotels. Additionally, many hosts offer contactless check-ins and check-outs, which limits social contact. Lastly, the host’s cancellation policies should be as flexible as possible while the pandemic is still at large. The cancellation policies are viewable prior to booking on the reservation page, so if there is a possibility that you may have to cancel your trip, try and book with a host who has flexible options. For more information on AirBnB’s COVID-19 safety policies and procedures click here (link will direct you to airbnb.com).
If you’ve booked with one of these travel companies recently, tweet me or DM me on Instagram or Facebook @travelswithkayy. I’d love to hear how your experience was! I’d also like to know about any other travel companies you’ve traveled with and how they’re choosing to handle the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope to hear from you soon!

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Owner and creator of Travels with Kayy. Travel blogger and adventure enthusiast, creating content to inspire and help fellow travelers plan amazing itineraries and explore all the corners of the earth!

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