For many InsideFlyer readers, international travel is the best way to use miles and points. But for the last 13 months, it has been exhausting to figure out which countries are open for tourism and which ones aren’t. (not to mention the constantly fluctuating rules around quarantine, testing, etc.)
Yesterday’s report in the New York Times therefore offers some hope for this summer. The NYT quotes Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, as saying “All 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by E.M.A.” (Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are all approved for use in the European Union)
The issue is a logistical / technical one. If you’ve already received one or both shots, you probably have a hand-written card in your possession. These can be faked far too easily to be of any use. So there’s still a lot of work to be done, even though countries such as Greece are jumping ahead and allowing in vaccinated Americans regardless.
Where’s the Miles & Points Angle?
… there isn’t really one. Other than to say that miles availability to Europe is pretty good right now. But that availability will disappear in a flash once the European Union officially reopens to American tourists…
Many frequent flyer programs – such as Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan – have relaxed their change and cancellation policies to make it risk-free to book speculative award flights. Other frequent flyer programs – such as British Airways Executive Club and Iberia Plus – already have low cancellation fees.
On the hotel side, most reservations made using points are completely refundable. Check the cancellation conditions carefully, but you should be able to make zero-risk hotel bookings as well.
The Bottom Line
It has been a depressing 13-14 months for those of us who love to travel. But with COVID vaccination mostly available to all, hopefully those shots in the arm will soon be followed by an online certificate that allows us to visit Europe again…