UPDATE: Barbados again welcoming Americans
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As the travel industry reopens following COVID-19 shutdowns, TPG suggests that you talk to your doctor, follow health officials’ guidance and research local travel restrictions before booking that next trip. We will be here to help you prepare, whether it is next month or next year.
Barbados reopening July 12
Good news from the Caribbean island nation of Barbados. Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley announcing there are no more active cases of COVID-19 in Barbados, and effective July 1, all curfews will be lifted:
“This is testimony to the will, discipline and commitment of Barbadian people… the health authorities, the frontline workers, the essential services, the social partnership, the media, the police, those on the borders, all have been integral to the success we have had thus far in tackling this pandemic. And more so, each and every Bajan in every house and in every community,”
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That also means the borders will soon be reopening, and tourists will be allowed back in Barbados. Americans will be welcome again at that time.
Air Canada will be the first international carrier with regular flights to the main airport of Grantley Adams International Airport (BGI) on July 12 followed not long after by British Airways. Later this summer, JetBlue and American Airlines are expected to resume service. You’ll be able to find more information on flights below.
The Points Guy asked Barbados tourism why Americans should visit, and they said:
“Travelers should visit Barbados not only to support the return of tourism and help boost the island’s economy but to create memorable moments by participating in exhilarating activities that the island offers. From wildly exciting activities for the lionhearted to peaceful and relaxing days in a tropical paradise, Barbados has it all! Even though COVID-19 has caused massive travel disruption across the Caribbean, the island’s warm waters, beautiful landscapes, and friendly residents await travelers in need of a getaway from the confinement of their homes, or those looking to work remotely with pearlescent white beaches as their backdrop. Regardless of the reason, Barbados can’t wait to welcome travelers back!”
What you need to visit Barbados
Visitors to Barbados from high-risk countries including the U.S. will need a COVID-19 PCR test from an accredited laboratory (ISO, CAP, UKAS or equivalent). High-risk countries are defined as those with more than 10,000 new cases in the prior seven days and community transmission.
Tourists will also need to fill out a new online Embarkation/ Disembarkation card (ED card), with personal health questions relating to COVID-19. Once all required steps are completed and supporting documents uploaded, travelers will receive a bar code via email.
On arrival in Barbados, travelers will be required to present evidence of a negative result of a PCR COVID-19 test, and bar code to clear immigration. If an arriving passenger, doesn’t have a negative test within 72 hours, they will need to get a test at the airport, and then quarantine for up to two days at their own expense until test results come in. If a passenger tests positive, they will be put into isolation.
- Obtain a certified negative PCR COVID-19 test within 72 hours of departure
- Fill out a new online Embarkation/ Disembarkation card (ED card), with answers to personal health questions
- Wear face masks when traveling to the departure airport
- Wear face masks and practice physical distancing at the departure airport
On the plane
- Wear a face mask while on the plane
- Practice social distancing to the extent possible
- Continue to wear face masks and practice physical distancing
- Submit to temperature checks
- Show bar code from online questionnaire
- Travelers without proof of negative test will take a COVID-19 test
Note that the requirements for visitors from countries with smaller infection rates are similar but COVID-19 test results will be accepted with one week of arrival instead of 72 hours.
Getting to Barbados
Commercial flights will resume at the Grantley Adams International Airport (BGI) on July 12, 2020.
The first international flights will be a twice weekly Air Canada service from Toronto’s Pearson International (YYZ) airport.
British Airways will resume a weekly flight out of London Gatwick on July 18th. According the the Barbados government, “JetBlue is tentatively set to return to the island on July 25, 2020 with four weekly flights out of New York-JFK.
Intra-regional flights on Caribbean Airlines are expected to resume in mid-July 2020, while Virgin Atlantic’s weekly service from London Heathrow will return on August 1, 2020 and increase in October for the upcoming Winter season. Four days later on August 5, 2020, American Airlines will resume flights out of Miami, Florida.
You won’t have a slew of options when booking your flights to Barbados on miles and points. In fact, only two airlines fly nonstop to Barbados’ BGI from U.S. gateways JetBlue and American Airlines. AA flies from Miami and Charlotte, and JetBlue flies from New York-JFK, New York-EWR, Boston and Fort Lauderdale.
That means you’re looking at using JetBlue TrueBlue points, American AAdvantage miles or points that transfer to either program.
I didn’t find any direct flights from JFK to BGI with only flights via Charlotte or Miami available in 2020.
A flight from Miami direct in September was going for about $468 roundtrip on American Airlines. For another $368 you could go in business class.
That same itinerary in miles would be 36,000 miles plus about $125 in taxes and fees in the main cabin though keep in mind that’s an AA web special. It would be 56,000 miles plus the same $125 in taxes and fees. Again that’s a web special fare. Regular price listed as 110,000 miles according to AA’s new pricing. I’d actually 56,000 in business class a decent deal.
I priced JetBlue flights to BGI in September from JFK. Flights start at 13,800 JetBlue True Blue points one-way, but it looks like JetBlue is also offering Mint service which gets rave reviews from TPG staff. That would set you back 105,000 True Blue points plus about $125 in taxes and fees.
Related: Review of JetBlue Mint on the A321
If you were paying cash, Mint service would set you back $1,187 roundtrip. It would be $492 in main cabin, or $452 in their version of basic economy.
Where to stay in Barbados
My colleague Andrea Rotondo did a complete guide to visiting the island, and she has some great tips here.
There are several new hotels in Barbados under the Marriott umbrella after an acquisition in 2019 as well.
At the Hilton Barbados Resort I found rates in September as low as $129 a night or 64,000 Hilton Honors points per night.
I found rates at the Courtyard as low as $128 a night in September or you could use Marriott Bonvoy points. At only 145,000 Marriott Bonvoy points for 7 nights, it’s a great deal.
Prices at the Radisson were similar about $128 a night in September. It’s a Category 6 property that goes for 50,000 points per night for a Standard award and 70,000 points for a Premium award.
Related: Guide to visiting Barbados
While in Barbados
Tourists in Barbados are asked to follow social distancing rules and wear masks in public. Barbados tells TPG, tourists will be able to move freely around the island, and all curfews will be lifted.
Prime Minister Mottley also wants remote workers to choose Barbados for extended stays in the age of coronavirus, “We want to create an environment that will allow people to come to Barbados to work, to rest and to play from here for an extended period of time during COVID-19. Why? Because we know that this is one of the best places on earth to be and to remain because of the care we will take to protect the people of this nation and those who are here on island with us.”
Related: Reopening guide: country-by-country
Related: Reopening guide to the Caribbean
More reading: Destination of the week: Barbados
Featured image by Gagliardi Giovanni/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images.
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