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Booking travel has become complicated. Between COVID-related restrictions, opening and closing of borders, and constantly changing case counts, my desire to travel is slowly dwindling. I want to travel but often I find myself confused about “requirements.”
Wait…which country requires a negative COVID-19 test prior to travel?
Wait…so I need to take a test 48 hours before I travel AND will be tested again upon arrival?Wait…I need to quarantine for 14 days after I arrive and will be unable to leave the hotel?
Wait…USA citizens are banned?
Wait…I can enter if I am a dual citizen despite living in the USA?
Wait…what airline is blocking middle seats?
Wait…what airline (proactively) refunds your money if the flight is cancelled?
Wait…are airlines still giving travel vouchers?
Wait…they just closed the border because of an uptick in cases?
GOOGLE TRAVEL – COUNTRIES
Over the years Google Travel has evolved into a one-stop, user-friendly tool and is my go-to source for fast and accurate information.
The powerful search engine recognizes things are changing but also recognizes that travelers want the latest information concerning COVID-19, flights, hotels, and attractions.
Yesterday, I was researching a trip to Rwanda. I am planning to depart London, stopover in Abu Dhabi and continue to Rwanda a few days later. Specifically, I am interested in reviewing Etihad’s First Class Apartment between London and Abu Dhabi and noticed Google Travel had introduced several COVID related features.
For example, the homepage looks like this…
I simply typed “Rwanda” into the search box (found under ‘Trips’), and on the next page I immediately noticed the bright red warning at the top of the page titled “Travel Restricted.”
After clicking on “More Details,” I was redirected to the Republic of Rwanda Ministry of Health’s page that detailed the entry requirements. The process could not have been any simpler to find this information.
GOOGLE TRAVEL – Flights
Next, I searched for a non-stop flight from London to Abu Dhabi. No, I haven’t relocated to London, but this segment is part of a larger trip.
Interestingly, I noticed that Google had added detailed information about the flight, specifically, the variant of plane. No longer was it just the 787 but the 787-10.
There are 3 variants of the Boeing 787:
- 787-8: 186 ft (57 m) long, typically seats 242 passengers, can fly over a range of 7,355 nautical miles
- 787-9: 206 ft (63 m) long, typically seats 290 passengers, can fly over a range of 7,635 nautical miles
- 787-10: 224 ft (68 m) long, typically seats 330 passengers, can fly over a range of 6,430 nautical miles
Most passengers (and when I say most, I mean 99.9%) are unable to identify each variant but the length and width of a plane make a huge difference on your experience. This is reason that you will find different seating configurations on planes. If you’re sitting in the middle section of economy, would you rather sit 3-across or 4-across? The variant could determine this information. This is great information to know!
It’s worth noting that Etihads First class apartment is only found on the A380, so I had to complete additional research to determine when Etihad would replace the 787s with an A380.
GOOGLE TRAVEL – Hotels
It became even more interesting when I began my search for accommodations.
After entering my destination (Abu Dhabi), I was able to see which accommodations offered free cancellations, the percentage of available hotel rooms, and perhaps the most important information, the COVID-19 trends in the city.
Additionally, after clicking on “when to visit,” I was able to see key information used to determine the “best time” to travel. For example, it’s probably not the best time to visit Abu Dhabi in July but according to Google, November/December appear to be “high season” and when hotels are charging increased rates. Is that the time I want to visit too?
Booking international travel is extremely complicated and due to the uncertainty around COVID-19, people want to know the latest (up-to-date) information when making travel plans.
Between COVID-related restrictions, opening and closing of borders, and constantly changing case counts, Google Travel has made it much easier to sift through the information.
No longer am I required to open 20 browsers to find basic information. Thank you Google!
Do you have a great travel tool that you use? What additional information do you consider when making travel plans?