The Reasons U.S. Could Drop Covid Travel Testing This Year [Roundup]

News and notes from around the interweb:

  • 2500 miles (post instantly) for joining Qatar Airways Privilege Club which is a Citibank transfer partner (HT: Jonathan W)

  • Postcard was mailed from Michigan.

  • Is marriage just like an airline buying aircraft?

    Marriage is a contract, no different in theory than an airline’s contract with an airplane manufacturer. The airline says they’ll buy X planes over the next ten years; the manufacturer says they’ll provide them at such-and-such a price. At the moment of signing, both parties think it’s a good idea. If they both knew it would stay a good idea, a contract would be unnecessary. But something might change. The air travel market might crash, and then the airline would regret having ordered more planes, and want to back out. The price of raw materials might go up, and then the manufacturer would regret offering such a low price, and want to back out themselves. But it would be unfair for the airline to make the airline manufacturer commit to a complicated course of action – building new factories, hiring lots of workers – and then change their mind, leaving them in a worse position than when they started. And it would be unfair for the manufacturer to make the airline commit to a complicated course of action – opening new routes, signing contracts with more airports – and then pull the rug out from under them and demand a higher price. So if you’re committing to a mutual enterprise where both sides are going to make big irreversible changes to satisfy the other, you want a contract where they both agree not to back out, and agree to suffer heavy social and financial sanctions if they do.

  • Josh Barro, who has a new substack, thinks that the requirement to test negative for Covid-19 to fly to the U.S. will end this year – and that this would be effective as an inflation-fighting strategy.

    The requirement makes little sense (we’re not exactly trying to keep Covid out of the country and should be dropped after the Omicron wave at least. But it won’t be. Nonetheless ‘this year’ is plausible, as a way of declaring victory over the virus in advance of November elections. I don’t see it as an inflation strategy as Barro does, however.

    My guess is the testing requirement will go away this year. American households have generally come out of the acute pandemic with healthier finances than they went in with, and the continued unavailability or undesirability of certain services — such as international travel — has caused people to shift toward buying more goods, which is a key driver of shortages and inflation.

    If Democrats want to enter the midterms with lower inflation, one of the most important things they need to do is get people to shift spending back toward services. Making travel easier again will be an appealing way to do that, especially once hospitalizations and deaths are lower, and pharmaceutical treatments that further reduce the already-reduced severity of Omicron are more widely available.

  • Over 100 pounds of bushmeat seized from passenger at Minneapolis airport. The man “said he had ‘parts of a monkey’..two primate arms and primate rib material.”

  • Quit it in the comments claiming that the mRNA vaccines don’t limit virus transmission. It’s just not true.

    • Vaccinated and boosted individuals are less likely to get the virus (therefore less likely to spread it)
    • They clear the virus more quickly (so less time in which to spread it)
    • They shed less transmissible virus

    The claim is usually vaccines don’t ‘stop’ transmission (i.e. work 100%) but that’s a complete non-sequitur, use of the best vaccines and boosters has both huge effect on avoiding severe outcomes as well as protecting others.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. The testing requirement never made any sense and like the vast majority of cumbersome, expensive government covid rules, did virtually nothing to impact the course of the pandemic. It’s time to allow travel to return to normal.

  2. If I recall correctly, the negative covid test requirement all started in Jan 2021 a week or two after Biden entered office. My travel friends all wish there was no covid test requirement for US citizens returning back to the USA.

  3. Genie is outta the bottle and it’s NEVER going back in. ALL this testing is nonsense. It’s time to learn to live with it.

  4. The requirements will only end when someone sues the feds and takes the case to SCOTUS.
    Gary, why don’t you pick up the glove?

  5. I wonder what the price of those “free” tests taxpayers are paying to distribute will be on ebay

  6. Yes James…why aren’t there more articles in the travel space calling for an end to all of it? What are we still afraid of? If an individual is scared, they can stay home – end of story. When I ask people the question of why the are still supporting all of these restrictions it’s almost 100% due to a fear of infecting someone else – never about personal concern. Ok great, so you’re ok with continuing this absurdity because of the low likelihood you will pass a mild cold on to someone. If you’re that afraid your 90 year old relative will get it from you then just don’t go near them! And how about they take their own precautions and don’t ride the subways without a mask? Everyone know who the high risk demographic is so let them make their own choices. This has turned into a complete political and economic power grab to retain control and earning with no basis for necessity. I can’t believe this has gone on so long. In a year or two I want to be able to look back at all the morons who perpetuated this totally unfounded fear and cancel them off the face of the earth. There is absolutely no legitimate reason to continue and restrictions at all. If someone is scared then they can stay home or wear a mask or get a shot every 3 month or whatever makes their pea brain rest easy, but let the rest of us make our own choices too. If the government were actually are parents (which they are trying to be now) we would be the most f’d up kids imaginable. They (government) should stay in their lane and fix problems that our country really faces like data security, economic, energy and foreign threats, etc…instead of one that has no actual impact.

  7. Would any of you volunteer to sit next to someone you know has active COVID? I didn’t think so.
    So seriously Karens stfu.

  8. To James’ point, we can’t stop transmission of the virus and we must learn to live with it. To Gary’s point, there is a ton of scientific data that shows being double-vaccinated reduces the likelihood of getting the virus, reduces the severity if one gets the virus, reduces the likelihood of hospitalization if one gets the virus, reduces the severity of hospitalization if one is hospitalized, and (drum roll please) reduces the likelihood of death. Anyone who argues to the contrary is dogmatically maintaining one’s position in the exact manner about which Seneca and Adam Smith warn.

    So, how do we live with it? Yes, eliminate the pre-departure COVID testing requirement for U.S. entry and impose a double-vaccination requirement for U.S. entry — sort of like restaurants in NY. All countries should do this. It is no different than any other vaccination requirement that countries impose. Anyone who argues to the contrary . . .

  9. @Pete I could barely feel the nurse in Mexico swabbing my nose the other week before I left to come back home. You think a country like Mexico tests accurately? You think these 5 star resorts down there want someone to test positive and stay in a room for 2 weeks? Ha

  10. Creepy Joe is always smiling like a baby that just crapped its diaper.
    Wake me up 2024 so I can vote DeSantis/Haley.

  11. @Pete every other person you’ve been in contact with most likely has had Covid. Put your dunce cap back on and go stand in the corner

  12. So Pete –

    before COVID when you got on a plane would you get the medical history of everyone? Would you ask the person next to you if they had the flu? a sore throat? a runny nose? When you get in the car, do you stop every driver and ask if they are drunk? have you every eaten at McDonald’s, had an alcoholic beverage, smoked anything, do you exercise every day, sleep at least 8 hours a day?

    I bet you do things detrimental (or risky) to your health and safety all the time, so my real question is – what are you afraid of with COVD? if it’s dying or hospitalization then you clearly don’t understand the data or your fear is so irrational that you can’t expect others to buy into it and you are free to not travel and lock yourself in a room. If your fear is spreading it to a high risk person, well that’s on you and the high risk person to be smart. Seriously, what do you think the odds are that if you get COVID it will kill you or hospitalize you (I’m assuming you are vaxed and boosted)?

    And to answer your question, I would have no problem sitting next to someone with COVID. I live with someone who had it 3 weeks ago and I never got despite living as we normally do (I have an 9 month old vaccine and no booster). Even if I did get it – OH NO! a sore throat!!! maybe even a runny nose for a few days. God help me.

  13. @Charlie M. 1,500 people a day aren’t dying of a sore throat and a runny nose. And my friend isn’t going to last much longer with 16-hour shifts taking care of these unvaccinated people packing the ICU. And my other friend would really like to have that knee replacement surgery that just got postponed indefinitely because of no place and nobody to do it. We do need to lift restrictions on normal life sooner than the most cautious would like, but the current situation isn’t sustainable.

  14. Ok Dave – 1,500 people a day dying of COVID, first, our country is about 350,000,000 people, so 1,500 isn’t a lot – you can’t manage that many people by what amounts to exceptions and outliers. Also, I’d be willing to bed that 99% of those people fit into high risk categories – so they should isolate themselves. Why should 350,000,000 people have to continue this so the 1,500 that won’t take care of themselves die? What about the children who have lost critical years in their development that will adversely impact them the rest of their lives? What about the massive increases in drug use, domestic violence, alcoholism due to these lockdowns and economic hardships? The number of lives that have been destroyed to accomplish what? So that that already sick people get to live in isolation an extra few years. I can’t stand when people throw out covid numbers like the risk applies equally to everyone – it doesn’t. Your 1,500 people are dying of preexisting conditions, like obesity (I think the number 1 underlying condition). COVID does not kill people on any scale unless they fall into certain categories, we know what those categories and factors are, so why don’t we give guidance to people based on their risk factors and if they want to follow the guidance then let them.

    Your 1,500 is insignificant and meaningless….roughly 1,200 people a day die of opioid overdoses every year, did we ever lock down he entire country for that? I never said people weren’t dying. Are you afraid it’s going to kill you? If you are, stay home.

    Your friend, well that’s the job he signed up for. If he doesn’t want to take care of sick people, find a new profession. Also, hospitalization rates haven’t changed the past few month, check your data source.

    Your friend who had surgery cancelled – well, that speaks to my point – why was it cancelled? fear of covid? a fear I think is misplaced.

    I’ll close with the same question I asked Pete – instead of your anecdotal stories and reciting numbers with no actual context or understanding of what those numbers mean, what are YOU afraid of? My guess is you’re going to say you’re saving other people and you are not worried at all…very altruistic of you, but you’re not saving anyone, you are perpetuating a fear that is causing serious damage to healthy people’s lives to protect people who are making choices not to protect themselves knowing they are at risk. Oh, and using the extreme outlier of that healthy 20 year-old that died of COVID somewhere to say that it does kill healthy people would only show that you have no understanding of data or how to use it.

  15. Did like Josh do any domestic travel at all last summer when pretty much every prime vacation destination was totally slammed? Because people visiting my part of Florida were throwing down $400/night for a thoroughly average Holiday Inn Express/Hampton Inn/Fairfield Inn that was 30-45 minutes drive from the beach. And this was results typical from coast to coast.

    And then inflation happened anyways.

  16. Gregg, why don’t you try actually addressing something I said? So saying I watch fox news means I’m wrong (even though you have no idea what I watch, I never watch FOX news)? You read the NYT and watch CNN? Right, those organization have ZERO slant on what they report. They are not biased at all. For your info, those are just my opinions based on facts, I would love to see a response from you that actually addresses something I said rather than a lame attempt to to discount my whole opinion because you think you know what TV station I watch.

    Go ahead Gregg – let’s hear how you see it and what about my post is wrong or a bad idea and why is it wrong or a bad idea?

  17. @Gary Leff — “Vaccinated and boosted individuals are less likely to get the virus (therefore less likely to spread it)”

    This may have been true in the distant past, but after waning “vaccine” effectiveness and the arrival of Delta, and now Omicron, the data no longer support this claim … see report below —

    As for impacts of spreading, Omicron *is* going to spread, even among those who are fully “vaccinated” because its rate of infectiousness is just too high to ignore. You can argue that the resulting time periods for spreading might be shorter, but that doesn’t matter if the viral load involved is still very high within the infected individual (actually equal to those who are “un-vaccinated”), and if/when this individual frequents very crowded places.

    But, more to the point — we must *stop* obsessing about whether “vaccinated” vs un-vaccinated are more/less likely to get/spread infections, because focusing on (case) infections has been a *totally* wrong governmental policy from day one! Instead, the *only* relevant parameters to monitor are actually severity/rates of hospitalizations and rates of deaths! Why? Because the amount of observed infections is driven by the thoroughness of testing coverage across the populace — the *more* people get tested, the *more* infections will get detected! So unless 100% of the populace can get tested accurately and extremely quickly, there can’t be sufficient testing coverage to assure adequate quality of sampling, especially when very early Contact Tracing of detected infectious individuals can *not* even be done effectively and efficiently!

    Furthermore, with Omicron manifesting symptoms mostly like a “common flu,” the degrees of societal and governmental panic about Omicron is tantamount to *insanity*! Just look at the crazy effects of focusing on infections — United Airlines, which (for whatever reason) prides itself on being 99+% “vaccinated,” has, nevertheless, suffered extreme “sick out” rates from breakthrough infections that have seriously crippled flight operations throughout its global network! Did we resort to such sick out paranoia over incidents of the “common flu”? Then *why* are we over-stressing over Omicron with its exceptional infectiousness but much weaker “lethality”?

    Let me now put forth the proposition that *everyone* has been missing the “aircraft carrier” *and* that proverbial “boat” — we *really* need to pay critical attention on a very *serious* side-effect of those “vaccines” (but perhaps especially with the mRNA variety) regarding *negative* Vaccine Efficacy (VE) that results over time as their effectiveness wane into negative value territory! And those who claim that VE can *not* go negative simply do *not* know the facts — going negative means that a fully “vaccinated” person is now *more* prone to getting infected than someone who had *not* been “vaccinated” at all! This is a potential explanation for *why* so many of the fully “vaccinated” are now suffering from “breakthrough infections” — those heavily touted and coerced “vaccines” are actually *weakening* the body’s natural immunity system with each administered jab, thus making the jabbed individual increasingly *more* susceptible to getting infected (and *not* with just Omicron, either)! So those boosters are actually exacerbating the situation with respect to purportedly “protecting” the health of the jabbed individuals, as that very short-lived “protective boost” can actually end up doing *more* damages than good!

    Below is a report about this issue from UK —

    Below is a more detailed report that dives deep into this issue, as compiled by Steve Kirsch and his panel of medical researchers —

    Know that Steve has two degrees from M.I.T. and does *not* dwell on anything except scientific *facts* that are *relevant* to the issues under investigation, so many of those who have tried to disparage his group’s findings have been political hacks trying to “justify” governmental policies that have now been *proven* to be abject *failures,* as the CDC is now starting to grudgingly acknowledge!

    I realize that the findings about negative VE are *very* scary and concerning to those who have already gotten jabbed (and boosted), but there are also intervention protocols that can be used to try and mitigate (and perhaps even recover) portions of your body’s damaged natural immunity system capabilities … but that is another topic for another day …

  18. The comment about “don’t challenge the vaccines” or whatever exact words were used is pure nonsense. Continued bullying, belittling of the unvaccinated when the virus is breaking thru left right and center is ludicrous. No mention of the few yet severely effected or killed by Tha vaccines they were forced to take? Just because they seem to be a statistical anomaly does not lessen the value of their lives. The vaccines need to STOP being treated as an absolute and peoples choice needs to be returned. Shame on your one sided and demonstrably ignorant perpetuation of the governments current position (subject to flip flopping as has been the only absolute)

  19. Anyone reading these comments from overseas would be ready to keep out Americans. If a comet was about to collide with Earth would we get as much blather from amateur astronomers and physicists as we do from the self-appointed amateur public health experts? (And then if they do require medical care, from Covid or ANYTHING else, they want the latest medical treatment from the exhausted health care workers in the crowded hospital and whine if they have to wait).

  20. @Pete

    I would have NO problem whatsoever sitting newt to anyone who tested “positive”. Hell, the ENTIRE plane could be filled with “covid positive” folks. I… DON’T … CARE….! I am not a coward who wets his pants at the though of getting the sniffles.

    If your mom is “positive”, I’d still get a leg over one her again.

  21. @Pete if I’m sitting on a domestic flight I may well be sitting next to an infected person but who knows. No testing.
    Why is international different. The C19 risk there is pretty much the same or lower as the C19 risk here. Tests don’t change that.

  22. @Charlie M
    A lot of false assumptions from you. Do you really know Pete? Isn’t over 800, 000 deaths enough for you? I just returned from France and did everything required and had no problem doing it. Maybe it’s guys like you who should stay home. Too bad most of the dying now are unvaccinated. Glad to hear they are smarter than the rest of us. Bunch of “Chump Fools”.

  23. This thing we call a vaccine and mandate people to get.

    It does not prevent infection. It may prevent serious infection of Omicron but there are no controlled blind studies on that and anecdotally the unvaccinated though possibly naturally immune are doing fine.

    This vaccine does not prevent transmission either.

    A vaccine has two jobs this one is pretty much doing neither.

    So call it what you want but it’s not really a vaccine anymore.

  24. @Rog. Did you wring your hands like this over flu deaths, or drownings or suicides or road traffic accidents or cancer clusters or lead in water.

    Most didn’t and still don’t.

  25. @Stephen
    Do all the flu deaths, drownings, suicides, traffic accidents, cancer deaths, add up to over 800,000?
    Why would I wring my hands over fools like you? Lead in water? How many deaths from that? Is it true you wring your hands over poor little crybaby Chump’s loss?

  26. Query:

    As the government is now doing with child COVID hospitalizations, is the 800,000 dead FROM COVID, or 800,000 who died who also had COVID. Two completely difference concepts.

    What is the total numbers of deaths from every cause in the U.S. in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 so we can compare the numbers and see if there is a significant increase in mortality since COVID arrived? The mainstream press never presents such numbers. All we see is 800,000 dead from COVID!

    If vaccines are so effective, why has the “crush the virus” Biden administration not mandated proof vaccination on all domestic flights?

    Why hasn’t the Biden administration rolled out a nationwide digital vaccination passport so we know who is legitimately vaccinated and who is not? There is no shortage of counterfeit CDC cards floating around.

    Why is the Biden administration just now starting to order at-home test kits? By the time they are available, Omicron will be history. Why weren’t they made available a year ago?

    If masks are so effective, why haven’t we seen a dramatic drop in infection numbers two weeks after mandates went into effect?

    The net result is that this administration doesn’t seem to be taking this virus seriously.

  27. 1KBrad
    Look it up, the pandemic didn’t really get underway until March of 19. while Chump and his administration dragged their feet on what to do. Chump reminded us every month that it would magically just go away. I’m still waiting. In the meantime just drink some Purell and shove a light down your throat or better yet take hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin.

  28. @Rog:

    The word non-responsive comes to mind.

    I am not a Trump supporter and didn’t vote for him. I also don’t have TDS.

    That said, I seem to recall the Trump administration invoked the defense production act and we had Ford and others manufacturing ventilators. The Trump administration also put in place emergency rules that allowed for vaccines to be produced at Warp Speed. So it would hard to say Trump did nothing.

    Trump’s problem was that he is boorish and couldn’t keep his mouth shut, saying stupid things. I’d rather look at what someone does instead of what they say, wouldn’t you?

    Biden was elected claiming he was going to crush the virus. How about addressing the issues I raised instead being, well, the way you are? Can you do that?

  29. @ StrictlyFacts & CharlieM. You’re not going to convince those who argue from an emotional level . . . but thanks for trying. Your points are well researched and documented.

  30. @One Trippe — Thanks in return for your comment!

    You’re right, of course, about those who argue based solely on emotions and without any intellect to back themselves up! But there are also others who may not have made up their minds yet, or have a more open mind towards considering alternative news and perspectives. Posting replies for their benefits will hopefully help them to become more aware about the Facts and Realities surrounding the now “constantly mutating” state of this pandemic and where it might be heading next!

  31. “Vaccinated and boosted individuals are less likely to get the virus (therefore less likely to spread it)”
    Excuse me, Mr. Leff, but are you living on Planet Misinformation?
    Even Pfizer’s CEO has walked away from this idea.
    And the data from the UK (the CDC won’t publish data on this) indicates that adults are about TWICE AS LIKELY to get Covid if they’re vaxed.

  32. I can fly into Mexico and then return Tijuana-San Diego and fly back home to avoid the tests. Shame that US Citizens have to take a cuckrona test just to get back home. Lets strand Americans in a foreign country…..not the first time resident brandon ordered something like that.

  33. @Gary – here’s a revolutionary idea to get ant-vaxxing commenters to “cut out” posting endless misinformation/lies…ban them. You have 2-3 very obvious ones to start with. Take back control of your blog already.

  34. @UA-NYC — “here’s a revolutionary idea to get ant-vaxxing commenters to ‘cut out’ posting endless misinformation/lies…ban them”

    There you go AGAIN with your desire for CENSORSHIP! WHY are you so PARANOID about letting the FACTS and TRUTHS get out to the public? Do you NOT understand that CENSORSHIP does NOT work for intelligent resolutions of controversial issues? IF you have any factual information that can debunk what has been posted, then, by all means, post those yourself! But I suspect that you do NOT, so you desperately resort to totalitarian tactics of CENSORSHIP! What does THAT indicate?

    You need to STOP assuming that the public is too dumb to be able to discern FACTS and TRUTHS for themselves!

    Once again, do you feel that you’re actually qualified to be THE arbiter of TRUTHS to encourage such CENSORSHIP actions upon everyone?

    The only honest method for Gary to stop reply postings about “vaccination” issues, is to stop writing about them, but is that actually beneficial for public information and discourse, especially when they relate to travel-related issues?

  35. @StrictlyFacts – all you do is post garbage anti science anti vaxx fake news. If Gary cared about truth in his comment section he would ban you in a hot minute.

    You don’t actually seem to, you know, *travel*. Just take your misinformation to some garbage right wing site already. Piss off chump.

  36. @UA-NYC — do you realize just how PATHETIC you sound, with your tired old generic talking point accusations that are NEVER backed up with ANY evidence, scientific or otherwise? All you do is to engage in those tired old ad hominem attacks that yield you NO credibility whatsoever!

    How about dealing with some FACTS for a change? Go ahead and post some FACTUALLY sourced reports that disprove what I’ve posted, instead of endlessly spewing ad hominem attacks — that will be the cultured way to engage in bona fide public debates!

    As for travels, what do you know about my travel history? Are you currently (like right now) qualified with UA Premier 1K (or Global Services) and Million Miler status, when you make yet another dismissive accusation, this time about my travels?

    You should seriously STOP your ad hominem attacks and engage in some cultured public debates, instead!

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