BTA deploys team to JFK over Covid-related travel issues
The Bermuda Tourism Authority has deployed a team of people to New York’s JFK Airport to help travellers encountering problems entering Bermuda.
It comes as some travellers were grounded by airlines because of issues arising with their travel authorisation forms.
A government spokeswoman said last night: “We are working around the clock to make this vital process seamless and easier for travellers.
“The BTA has assigned team members to be at the JFK airport to assist Bermuda-bound travellers to navigate any potential issues with travel authorisation forms.”
Additionally, the Ministry of Health has provided a “dedicated resource” for the on-site agent with a direct link to Bermuda’s Covid-19 call centre.
The spokeswoman added: “The agent will be located at the ticketing/check-in area of the terminal and will help identify issues and provide direct assistance.”
The press released issued by Government did not say why these issues had arisen at JFK.
Charles Jeffers, BTA chief executive, said: “Our dedicated team rose to the challenge and on Thursday and Friday worked at JFK Airport with check-in agents of both Jet Blue and Delta airlines to assist travellers.
“This was a welcome addition, and the ability to connect directly with the local TA team made it easy to resolve the few issues that arose.
“This week we will renew the effort and we encourage Bermuda bound travellers to ask for our help if they need it as they check-in for their flights.”
Mr Jeffers said that a BTA representative would be at JFK airport again on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Mr Jeffers said the BTA will add representatives at other gateway airports “in the coming days”.
The Ministry reminded the public that all residents and visitors aged two year of age and above must submit a completed Bermuda Covid-19 Travel Authorisation.
Travellers should have all documents ready, including Covid-19 test results, vaccine certificates and hotel/exemption confirmations where applicable, before starting the travel authorisation process.
The spokeswoman added: “Like any travel form, extra care should be taken when completing the TA. In many cases, forms have incorrect e-mail addresses or expired documents uploaded. The team quickly addresses these issues and we do all we can to make travel just a little less stressful in these times.
“The most common reason a TA is being rejected for residents is that they do not upload their vaccine certificates.
“As well, TA’s are being rejected because travellers’ PCR test results do not meet the approval criteria. For example, the test is an antigen test, or the result document does not contain the letters PCR on it.
“The Bermuda Government will e-mail your travel authorisation to you when it has been approved. So, you must provide the correct e-mail address and check your inbox, spam or junk mail.”
The Covid-19 helpline is operating from 8am until 8pm, seven days a week. Additional staff have been employed to answer calls.
The ministry advised travellers who have their travel authorisation rejected to call the Covid-19 helpline on 444-2498.
The spokeswoman added: “There are 15 people on the hotline daily handling phones calls, e-mails and travel authorisations and nine people on the evening shift.
“The numbers have been maintained this weekend and we are working with the Department of Workforce Development to identify at least ten more people who can be immediately added to the hotline team this week.
“To assist those with rejected TAs further, the helpline team contacts the traveller to facilitate a TA approval.”
A toll-free number is available for travellers calling the Covid-19 hotline from the United States and Canada at 1-833-570-2594.
Government said it would cover the cost of students quarantining at a designated hotel who left the island between the periods of July 1, 2020 and May 6, 2021.
More information can be found at www.gov.bm