We shouldn’t have to tell you this, but please don’t travel if you have COVID-19

Dec 21, 2020

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Here at TPG, we try to stay on top of travel trends involving aviation, loyalty, cruising and all segments of the industry. But recently, a new trend has emerged that is — to be blunt — one of the most irresponsible, selfish and dangerous things you can do in the middle of a worldwide pandemic.

It pains me to have to write these words, but given what we’re seeing in the news and across social media, it’s sadly necessary: Do not travel this holiday season if you have COVID-19.

Earlier this week, news broke that a United flight had to divert for medical reasons, and passenger accounts on Twitter indicated that the affected traveller (who ultimately passed away) was positive for COVID-19. The details aren’t entirely clear. Was the positive test recent? Was the death caused by the coronavirus, or was there another medical condition?

Related: How to fly safe during the pandemic; Tips and 11 things you need to know for holiday travel

Regardless of those details, there are many other examples of travellers knowingly boarding a plane with COVID-19. One was banned for life by JetBlue in March. Another couple was arrested flying back to Hawaii in November.

And these are not isolated incidents.

Here’s a snapshot of examples I’ve seen in the TPG Lounge and across other travel groups in recent days:

A photographer traveled in Texas for a wedding, and after spending all day shooting it, a bridesmaid said the groom tested positive the night before, “But everything was cool because he had no symptoms.”

“If masks work (as everyone screams about requiring them), then why can’t you fly with COVID, as long as you wear a mask?”

“Realistically health is no one else’s business. Traveling has always been a leading cause in illness spreading, if you don’t like it don’t travel.”

Possibly the worst offender came in a Disney-themed private Facebook group. One member who was planning to visit Disney World in Orlando next week tested positive and asked for what to expect with refunds and change options. Among the advice doled out? Responses encouraging her to just wear a mask, take Dayquil and simply just go anyway.

Stop. Just stop. It doesn’t matter if you’re asymptomatic. It’s irrelevant if you feel like you can handle getting sick. And it’s beside the point if you think COVID-19 is just like the flu. (It’s clearly worse, by the way.)

By hitting the road this holiday season as a known COVID-positive traveller, you not only risk infecting others; you could kill one (or more) of your fellow travellers.

It could even be one of the friends or family members you’re going to see. You may not have any underlying medical conditions that put you more at risk of hospitalisation or death, but what about your parent who’s a cancer survivor? What about your aunt or uncle with high blood pressure? Are their lives worth you getting on that plane?

Yes, I know that cancelling a trip at the last minute isn’t always easy. Heck, it could even be costly. Most airlines are offering free changes through at least the end of the year — or have eliminated most fees permanently — but that may not be the case with other providers. You may have grabbed a great deal on a prepaid rental car, or maybe you’re past the window to cancel your hotel stay without a penalty.

But here’s the thing — It. Doesn’t. MATTER.

Dealing with the hassle of changing your plans or incurring a minimal fee is a small price to pay to protect others. And I promise that if you call a company and say, “I’ve tested positive for COVID-19 and need to cancel a nonrefundable travel purchase to protect others,” you have a very high likelihood of getting your money back.

If you start feeling sick, don’t travel. If you’re exposed to someone to someone with COVID-19, don’t travel. And if you get a positive test result for COVID-19, don’t (under any circumstances) travel.

These recommendations — echoed by virtually every governmental agency, mind you — probably seem wholly unnecessary. But sadly, that’s the reality in the ninth month of the coronavirus pandemic.

Yes, we’re facing a global health crisis, even with the recent start of vaccine rollout.

However, we’re also facing a global stupidity crisis, and no shot in the arm can treat that.

This isn’t about you. It’s about your fellow travellers. Don’t travel with the coronavirus this Christmas holiday season.

Featured photo by Marc Flury/Getty Images

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