What to know on travel safety as the Israel-Hamas war continues

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In general, travelers who booked to Israel on U.S. carriers on or before Oct. 6, the day before Hamas attacked Israel, are typically being offered the option to either cancel their trips and request refunds or to rebook in the same cabin and between the same cities on different dates with no change fees or fare differences. (United is also offering to waive change fees on flights to Amman.)

“These waivers apply regardless of what fare class you’ve booked,” Keyes said. “Even otherwise restrictive basic economy tickets may be rescheduled or canceled for a full cash refund.”

Right now, the rebooking options are available through Dec. 31 on United, from Dec. 5 through Jan. 31 on American and through Sept. 6, 2024, on Delta.

Travelers can expect to see a larger law enforcement and canine presence.

TSA spokesperson Robert Langston

With Delta having already extended the dates of its rebooking provisions, Keyes said, “it’s all but certain other U.S. airlines will extend their travel waivers for at least as long as the escalated hostilities continue.”

At airports and other transportation hubs, “travelers can expect to see a larger law enforcement and canine presence,” said Robert Langston, a spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration.

The TSA is operating at a “heightened level of security as a result of world events and the current threat environment,” he said. Officials there and at its parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security, will continue to monitor the situation and adjust their security measures as needed.

Security checkpoints lines at airports could get longer because of the increased measures, Price said, but “if things are getting out of hand, TSA can also speed up lines by reducing random checks.”

Cruises

A handful of cruise lines have made changes to scheduled sailings in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, said Aaron Saunders, a senior editor at Cruise Critic.

“The changes range from the cancellation of full sailing seasons to adjustments to itineraries that remove select ports,” he said. 

Windstar Cruises, Royal Caribbean and MSC are among the cruise lines that have pulled all their ships out of the region because of the conflict, Cruise Critic has reported, while Norwegian Cruise Line has informed passengers on a coming Rome-to-Athens cruise that stops in Israel will be skipped.

“Cruise lines have teams dedicated to monitoring the latest news and updates and reserve the right to adjust their plans as they see most fit,” Saunders said.

He encourages anyone with a cruise reservation to watch for emails from the operator for updates on specific sailings, as well as any compensation being offered for significantly affected ones. For those considering a cruise to the region, “we strongly recommend purchasing travel insurance,” Saunders added.

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Travel insurance 

Many travel insurance policies already provide cancellation and interruption benefits in the event a terrorist attack affects a trip, according to published guidelines from the travel insurance comparison platform SquareMouth.

But in most cases, those benefits kick in only for policies purchased before the date of the attack, meaning such coverage would apply for the current conflict only on insurance taken out on or before Oct. 6.

Travelers with coming trips to Israel who have cancellation and interruption benefits may be reimbursed for 100% of their trip expenses if they need to cancel, SquareMouth noted. Travelers planning to visit Israel as part of trips may also be covered if they need to cut their itineraries short.

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