October 21, 2021 12:50
Flag carriers are increasing overseas flights as countries around the world tentatively return to normal.
First up, Korean Air will resume flights to Hawaii on Nov. 3. The flag carrier halted them 19 months ago.
Asiana Airlines is also considering raising the number of flights to Singapore in mid-November from the current three times a week. An Asiana staffer said, "It looks like the number of passengers traveling overseas will increase sharply in late November or December."
There is still no impressive choice of destinations, which include the far-flung U.S territories of Guam and Saipan as well as Singapore and Hawaii, which are part of a "travel bubble" with Korea.
Asiana and Air Seoul decided to resume twice-weekly flights to Guam on Dec. 23. Asiana already resumed flights to Saipan in July and more than 1,000 people have booked tickets until the end of this year. It could add more at the end of the year to mop up pent-up demand.
The outlier is budget carrier Jeju Air, which decided to offer charter flights to Chiang Mai, Thailand in November after the Thai government said it will open the country to fully vaccinated tourists next month. Jeju Air also plans to resume flights on 18 routes including Bangkok and Qingdao.
Travel agencies are promoting overseas package tours as well. Hanjin Travel said it is making sure that sights and restaurants included in its routes only allow fully vaccinated people, while ensuring that buses carrying travelers are only half full.
But that paradoxically means more travelers will be in thrall to old-fashioned package tours rather than striking out on their own. A Lotte Tour staffer said, "The paperwork is complicated and local quarantine rules are subject to change, so travelers will rely on tour agencies to handle their overseas trips for the time being rather than venturing out themselves."
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