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We hope you are all staying well and have started wonderful lists of destinations you'll visit when this all blows over.
The Hill Guys have actually been extremely busy since the March 11th announcement that the US would deny entry to any non-US folks who had visited Europe within the prior 14 days. Unfortunately, our busyness has been undoing all the trips that we’ve crafted over the last 15 months. Here is what we’ve learned over the last several weeks.
Current Travel Indicators (April 2020)
While COVID-19 uncertainty provides no solid date for when vacation travel will resume, there are some indicators. It appears most of the summer travel season is shot, but August seems to be the best case scenario at the moment for travel to open up:
We’ll have a much better perspective on the travel landscape by late May.
Advice from The Hill Guys
Notes about Cancelling Travel
Flights Cancelled by the Airline: On April 3rd the US Department of Transportation ordered airlines to provide refunds “...when the carrier cancels the passenger’s scheduled flight or makes a significant schedule change and the passenger chooses not to accept the alternative offered by the carrier.” Prior to that order, many airlines had only been offering credits and waiving change fees for non-refundable tickets in those events.
Flights Cancelled by the Customer: Most carriers are waiving change fees, but only providing future travel credit for non-refundable tickets. Each airline’s policy is different and changes frequently as the COVID-19 story progresses. Check with your specific carrier for its present terms and if they will make any exception to provide a refund instead of a credit.
Non-Refundable Hotel Reservations: Many properties have allowed free cancellations due to COVID-19. However, when the hotel is unwilling to cancel a non-refundable booking without a penalty (after all, those terms were accepted when the booking was made), we have found that every one has allowed our customers to at least apply their funds to a future date.
Cruises: Unlike the airlines, cruise lines have been wonderful to customers and travel agents alike. They have been footing the bill for flights to get passengers home whose cruises ended abruptly Each has offered either 100% refunds or the option of future cruise credits that often times come with bonus funds or some hefty onboard credits. Most are allowing guests 24 months to book a cruise using the future cruise credit. Also, our preferred lines of Princess and Viking have also taken care of travel agents by continuing to pay commissions on all their cruises that have been cancelled. The cruise industry's generosity is amazing considering that its 2020 season has been decimated.
Flight Research: Exhausted? Frustrated? Confused? Overwhelmed?
As travel agents we frequently get questions about how to find the best deals on flights with the greatest ease. Here are our insights, tips and recommendations based on our daily digging and sorting of flights for our amazing customers worldwide. These relate to folks who are starting their travel in the United States.
The Hill Guys: Airfare Tips and Tricks
Can a travel agent get me discounted fares?
Likely YES: International itineraries for Trans-Atlantic and Trans-Pacific destinations
Why do people use The Hill Guys even when there are no $$$ savings?
Save time / Have better ways to spend their time
Minimize frustration, confusion and fatigue due to too many choices online.
Single point of contact: Only speak to us instead of getting someone different on the phone each time you have a question or request.
Book with confidence by working with professionals:
International connections can get tricky:
Simplify Open-Jaw Itineraries:
All tips, recommendations and airfare savings herein are provided and intended as resources for readers to facilitate airfare-related research and air travel, and no results are guaranteed. Airfares are based on availability and subject to change frequently and can never be guaranteed until purchased. The Hill Guys has no affiliation with nor does it receive compensation from Google, but rather we prefer it and recommend it solely based on our experience with its accuracy, straight-forward displays and ease of use.
US Citizens and Canadian Visitors
Download and use the Mobile Passport app to skip the lines when you arrive at select US international ports of entry.
QUICK: It often gets us through US passport control and customs inspections as fast as the folks who paid for Global Entry.
How It Works
STEP 1: Have the Mobile Passport app downloaded from Google Play or Apple iTunes before you board your flight to the USA
STEP 2: Complete and save the app form during your flight to the USA before you land
STEP 3: Submit the completed form as soon as you land in the USA and have access to the Internet
STEP 4: Passport Control
STEP 5: Customs Inspection
Balloon Fiesta ShuttleNEW for visitors to Santa Feǃ An Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta shuttle bus will pick up at 3 downtown hotel locations each day throughout Fiesta this year. Please see below schedule. Arrive early as the shuttle will depart promptly from each location. Space is limited and tickets are on a first come first serve basis.
Should Balloon Fiesta morning sessions be cancelled due to weather, shuttle tickets will not be refunded.
The purchase of this ticket does not include access into the Balloon Fiesta Park so guests will need to purchase that separately. Click here to purchase your Balloon Fiesta Tickets.
Bus departs promptly at 4:30am - Eldorado Hotel, 309 W. San Francisco St.
Bus departs promptly at 4:45am - La Fonda on the Plaza, 100 E. San Francisco St.
Bus departs promptly at 5:00am - The Drury Hotel, 828 Paseo De Peralta
This is a shuttle service available from Santa Fe to Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta Park from October 5-13. The shuttle will pick up at the El Dorado Hotel, La Fonda Hotel and The Drury Hotel in the downtown area starting at 4:20am. Return shuttle service will arrive back into Santa Fe around 11am.
Please print your tickets for the driver to see or have it available on your smart phone. Keep your ticket for the return ride home as you'll show it again for return trip to Santa Fe.
IMPORTANT: Return Pick up to Santa Fe after the event will be at 10am sharp at the same location as drop off. (Public Transit Area Drop off on the SE corner of the Balloon Park). Please be sure to get the shuttle drivers cell phone in case you are running late.
Rules for Bringing Medicines into Australia
Travelers entering Australia may carry their medicines and medical devices with them for their own personal use or the use by an immediate family member who is traveling with them, such as an infant.
All medicines for personal use must be declared with the Australia Border Police upon entry.
Follow these simple rules to make sure you don't get caught up at the border:
Therapeutic Goods Administration: https://www.tga.gov.au/entering-australia
Australia Border Police: https://www.abf.gov.au/entering-and-leaving-australia/can-you-bring-it-in/categories/medicines-and-substances
US Centers for Disease Control (CDC): https://www.cdc.gov/features/travel-medicine/index.html
Kauai, Hawaii - Reservations and Daily Access Limits in Place for Haena State Park
Hāʻena State Park: Hāʻena State Park, at the end of the road on Kauai's north shore and home to Kēʻē Beach as well as the trailhead for the Kalalau Trail and Hanakāpīʻai beach and waterfalls, is now subject to daily visitor limits and requires advanced reservations to enter the park.
To enter Hāʻena State Park you will need one of the following:
Hāʻena SP reservations are available for purchase up to two weeks in advance.
Beginning October 1st 2019, New Zealand will require each traveler from a visa-waiver country to individually obtain both an NZeTA and IVL before they visit.
NZeTA: New Zealand Electronic Travel Authorization
IVL: International Visitor Conservation & Tourism Levy
What Will It Cost?
Via mobile app: NZD$9 (approximately $6 USD)
Via website: NZD$12 (approximately $8 USD)
NZD $35 (approximately $24 USD) for each person traveling to New Zealand and is charged in the same transaction as your NZeTA.
Validity: Your NZeTA and IVL are valid for multiple visits and up to 2 years.
Complete & Official Details
PRINCESS ANNIVERSARY SALE
Up to four guests in the same stateroom enjoy free shipboard gratuities and onboard spending money.
Sale ends 31DEC18
Connect with The Hill Guys today for all the details and availability.