Stories from Alaska

An insider's journey through Alaska's best kept secrets

Traveling Safely: Alaska in 2021

As we begin to travel again to Alaska in 2021 (or begin planning future travel), it is important to be aware of steps being implemented by the travel industry to keep us as safe as possible while we are still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, these practices will continue to evolve as information about the incidence of the virus changes and more of the population is vaccinated, bringing us closer to “herd immunity”. With vaccine distribution now underway, here is what we currently know about what travel operators are doing to keep travelers just like you, safer, now – and into the future.

After being all but shut down, airlines, hotels and tour companies have updated procedures based on the CDC’s latest recommendations. Some clearly effective methods, such as disinfecting highly touched surfaces, frequent hand washing, covering the nose and mouth (masking), and keeping distance from others can reliably help to lower virus transmission. However, keeping up with current practices or local and state mandates can be cumbersome. To help you navigate this maze of directives, here are ways Alaska travel operators  have placed a new focus on “conscientious travel” so that you can more comfortably plan your upcoming Alaska adventures.

The State of Alaska has been welcoming visitors since early July by requiring everyone to arrive in Alaska with a recent negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of boarding your flight. This means the people around you have gone through the same health screening processes. Prior to traveling, travelers should upload their test results and submit a declaration form through Alaska’s online travel portal. Taking care of all the paperwork in advance will help make your airport arrival as smooth as possible. Requirements and policies can change at any time. Please review the current regulations directly on the State of Alaska’s Traveler Page.

Airlines have implemented many new policies starting from your airport arrival. Security and check-in lines are  marked at 6 feet distances. Many of the major airlines are blocking middle rows to non-household members or capping the plane capacity to allow for additional space. Masks are required onboard throughout all flights. And travelers should know that virtually all commercial airliners are equipped with highly effective HEPA filters fine enough to remove 99.7% airborne microbes, including the new coronavirus. Cabin air is circulated vertically, from ceiling to floor and refreshed fully from outside the plane, every 2-3 minutes. In between flights, the cabins are scrubbed down with antimicrobial disinfectants. Another great tip: hand sanitizer is not restricted by the 3 oz. liquids rule on planes, so pack your BIG bottle (12 oz.) and sanitize away!

Package Tours and Day Tours are currently operating in Alaska! Many tour operators are limiting capacity on their trips to allow for social distancing. This means you can enjoy the same amazing sites in Alaska but with smaller crowds! Shuttles and taxis are still operating, but if you have added concerns, feel free to reach out as we may have private transportation options available for you, as well. Rental cars are another great option for having your own space. Check out our self-drive itineraries for both summer and winter!

Hotels remain focused on keeping guests and staff safe. They have adopted various new protocols, such as leaving rooms empty for 3 days between stays, using disinfectant foggers, and/or having contactless check-ins. Some hotels have expanded room service options and are even delivering continental breakfasts to guests’ rooms.

Travel Insurance has become more important than ever before. Most insurance policies offer reimbursements for non-refundable, pre-booked costs if you must cancel your trip for a covered reason, such as unexpected illness to you or a direct family member. Each policy is different, so please read the coverage details before purchasing. For instance, some will cover COVID-19 required quarantine and others will not. Some will let you cancel for any reason but only refund you a portion of your trip cost. However, before paying 5-20% of your trip cost for travel insurance protection, check with your credit cards issuer first. Some include trip coverage benefits if you use the card to pay for your vacation.

Safe travel is a partnership between everyone involved. All the safety practices can only be effective if travelers themselves are also considerate of each other. The simplest and most effect ways to slow the spread of illness is through handwashing, face covering, and giving everyone their personal space. Check out the current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control. Together, we can make it possible to get out and explore the world again!

With all these new protocols in place, we hope to welcome you in a safe way to visit Alaska when you are ready to travel. Alaska’s wide-open spaces make for natural social distancing! Alaska Tours is also offering our Peace of Mind flexible booking terms. Our goal is to take away the stress of planning for your summer trip by offering the best availability now with a lower deposit and no cancellation fees until March 15, 2021.