Even for the few of us that would enjoy the drudgery of planning trips prior to the pandemic, the novel coronavirus has turned booking flights and coming up with an itinerary into an excruciating experience. Checking up on morbid travel regulations and then checking them again, making sure you’re carrying the right documentation, and whether you’re really not going to need to quarantine—oh, it could prove to be a nightmare. But like always, technology has come forward to save the day (quite literally) in the form of apps and interactive websites that give you all the dope on specific travel regulations of the place you’re travelling to. Here’s a list of a few you can use.
Both Google and Apple have added new details to their map features for the destinations you would be visiting. Not sure about whether your favourite restaurant is still serving, or if there's been a change in the timings? Apple Maps and Google Maps offer updates—and you could even suggest edits. Also, depending on where you're based, Google Maps also displays COVID-19 testing centres and if users would be able to socially distance at public transit stations (available in 13 countries for now, including India) based on real-time commuter concentration tracked by the app. Google also launched filters to find out hotel and flight availability in select locations recently.
Check & Fly
Available on iOS, this app, launched by Airports Council International, lets travellers get a clear picture of what to expect at the airport they're flying to as regards the health and hygiene measures in place especially geared for COVID-19. Through Check & Fly, airports communicate directly with flyers to help the latter arrive better prepared at their destination.
COVID Checker by Sitata
This one's a comprehensive platform that'll help you stay updated about the travel restrictions and the latest COVID-19 statistics of the country you're visiting. Sitata was one of the first to flag concerns regarding the worldwide spread of the virus—doing so as early as December 2019. Using AI to constantly monitor developments globally, the app provides in-depth information such as public transport status, if masks are to be worn, the duration of the required quarantine, airport and border closures, curfews—pretty much everything one would need.
Travel Centre by IATA
For those who want to know if the documentation held by them is sufficient for their journey to a country and the basic health guidelines in the destination, IATA’s interactive platform, Travel Centre, is a one-stop shop. It takes no more than five minutes to find out—just key in your details and the site will right away let you know if you fulfil the criteria.
For a different way to go about it, you can look at their travel regulations map, which is quite a handy, uncomplicated feature. A colour legend gives a quick overview of the stringency of restrictions imposed while clicking on the individual countries on the map fires up an easy-to-understand list of who all are allowed to enter, the compulsory quarantine period and necessary documents or declarations for the particular country. Access it here.
Say you want to fly to Mexico from India and are looking for an easy, navigable platform to quickly tell you the state of travel restrictions there along with information on whether you would be needed to produce a health declaration upon arrival, and to quarantine and wear a mask. Sherpa is your man—a clean interface with a smooth search functionality and assistance with requirements such as the public health passenger locator form Indian nationals currently need to fill out and show before alighting on UK’s shores. Access Sherpa here.
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App in the Air
The popular travel app has added a web-based functionality to its services, keeping in mind the travel restrictions enforced due to the spread of COVID-19. Again, just key in your destination and departure countries, and a tab slides into view, listing the travel guidelines for both countries. The app’s booking tab, on the other hand, offers news of non-operational flights and schedule changes, and recommends alternate itineraries while one is in transit. App in the Air is available on Google Play and App Store.
This one is a chic platform that allows users to access detailed information on COVID-19-related guidelines, passenger responsibilities and quarantining regulations at over 300 airports the world over. In case you want to know if measures such as disinfection booths, smart helmets or self-service baggage drop are available, Airsiders Compass will tell you that too. Access it here.