Hmmm: Baha Mar Promises Private Jet If You Get Coronavirus

Filed Under: Hotels

I guess this is one way to alleviate peoples’ concerns…

Risks of testing positive for coronavirus when traveling

In late January the US added a new testing requirement for international travel. Specifically, in order to enter the US by air you need proof of a negative coronavirus test taken within 72 hours of travel to the US (a rapid antigen test qualifies).

This has caused concern among some who would have otherwise considered international travel, given how regulations vary based on where you’re traveling:

  • What happens if you test positive for coronavirus while abroad? Will you be able to stay in your hotel room, or will you have to go to some sort of a government facility?
  • If you can stay in a hotel, will you have to pay the standard daily rate?
  • What happens if you take a rapid antigen test but get a false positive? Can you take a second rapid antigen test, do you need to take a PCR test, or do you need to quarantine no matter what?
  • How long do you have to quarantine for — a full two weeks, or until you test negative?

The answers to these questions vary significantly by country, but it’s something you should definitely think about before planning international travel.

Baha Mar’s “Travel With Confidence” program

Baha Mar is a mega-resort complex in the Bahamas, consisting of a Grand Hyatt, Rosewood, and SLS. The hotel complex has made a promise that is sure to generate some buzz. Let me quote the hotel’s press release directly, because I tend to think there’s a catch here. First of all, the press release’s headline reads as follows:

“Baha Mar Launches Travel With Confidence Program Offering Complimentary Return Private Jet Travel Or Free Extended Stay For COVID-19 Positive Guests”

Then here’s the part of the press release describing the free accommodation or private jet service:

“Baha Mar’s Travel with Confidence Program pledges that should a resort guest test positive during their stay, Baha Mar will facilitate their quarantine with courtesy suite accommodations and a daily resort dining credit of $150 per person per day, for up to 14 days or until the guest receives a negative COVID-19 result.

Should the guest choose to leave The Bahamas earlier, Baha Mar will provide private air travel to the US mainland for the guest and their immediate family, free of charge.”

In case you’re wondering about the details of the private jet service, here’s how that’s described:

“Baha Mar will facilitate private air travel to South Florida for all guests wishing the return home after testing positive for COVID-19 and their immediate family (up to 4 people occupying the same room) during their stay at the resort.”

Is this a huge gimmick, or what am I missing?

The way Baha Mar advertises this, some people may almost be hoping to test positive for coronavirus to get a free private jet flight out of this.

The press release’s headline suggests the hotel is offering a free private jet flight to the US or a free stay with a daily hotel credit. It almost sounds like if you test positive you’ll be asked which of the two options you prefer, and next thing you know you’ll be whisked onto a private jet.

The hotel also says that this private jet will be provided “should the guest choose to leave the Bahamas earlier,” and also says that this is for guests “wishing” to “return home after testing positive for COVID-19.” Then looking at the FAQs, the language changes, saying that this will be provided “should the guest need to return earlier.”

And this is where I must be missing something — you’re not allowed to board a US-bound aircraft (even private) if you’ve tested positive for coronavirus, so how exactly is this supposed to work? This isn’t being advertised as a “quarantine for 14 days and then fly home in a private jet” feature, but rather as a one-or-the-other option.

I imagine there are certain circumstances under which you could return to the US for medical treatment if you have a severe case of coronavirus that requires hospitalization, but that’s about it, as far as I know.

Don’t get me wrong, Baha Mar’s offer to put someone up in a suite for free and even give them a dining credit is incredibly generous. But unless I’m missing something, the mention of any sort of private jet service seems purely intended to generate buzz without any substance (and it seems to be working, because I see all kinds of mainstream publications publishing stories about this without pointing that out).

Bottom line

Baha Mar is trying to put travelers at ease by offering a free suite for up to 14 days with a $150 per person daily dining credit, or a private jet flight to the US. The former option is incredibly generous, while the latter option seems like a gimmick and almost to be in bad taste, unless I’m missing something obvious.

Is the offer of a private jet flight a total gimmick, or what am I missing?

  1. @ Joseph Petrovic — The press release was titled:
    “Baha Mar Launches Travel With Confidence Program Offering Complimentary Return Private Jet Travel Or Free Extended Stay For COVID-19 Positive Guests”

  2. I’m pretty sure the US can’t deny access to citizens who arrive (even with coronavirus). That’s why they’re having airlines check the coronavirus tests. Is it possible that the executive order only applies to commercial airlines and not private jets? That would make it possible for coronavirus-positive people to enter the United States, right?

  3. The Bahamas is already requiring travel insurance that covers both of these items.

    $500/day for quarantine (up to $7000, ie 14 days) or a medical evacuation up to $50,000.

    Is this just a clever rebranding to make people aware of benefits that everybody going to the Bahamas is getting?

  4. @ Phize — According to the CDC:
    “Does this order apply to all flights or just commercial flights?
    This order applies to all flights, including private flights and general aviation aircraft (charter flights). Passengers traveling by air into the US are required to have proof of testing regardless of flight type.”

  5. The line you wrote “you’re not allowed to enter the US if you’ve tested positive for coronavirus, so how exactly is this supposed to work?” further reinforces the massive confusion given the number of regulatory agencies opining on the topic. When you look at the website in the Q&A, there is a question stating the following: “How can you ban citizens from returning home? Isn’t this illegal?” The response is the following: “The CDC order does not ban U.S. citizens from entering the US. The order relates to boarding a U.S.-bound aircraft and is meant to protect and preserve human life, as well as prevent further transmission of a highly contagious and often deadly virus.”

    So you can enter on a boat or by land? How else are you supposed to traverse open seas other than by boat?

  6. Interesting. I say interesting because if I drive through the US border on land, there is no covid test or proof of test.
    If I show up at the US customs at an airport, there is no covid test or requirement to prove that I had a test. I don’t believe the US government can stop me from entering the US as a US citizen at that point. How they got around this is putting the burden onto the airlines to stop me, not the government. Therefore, if a private charter company allows me to board the plane and to land on US soil, not sure what the US government can do other than revoke FAA authorization from the private charter to enter the US in the future; this is just a hunch, but what do I know.

  7. @ David — Great point, and I just updated the post to further clarify that. The only private jet service that would be useful here is one to Mexico near a US border checkpoint, where a test wouldn’t be required to enter the US. But of course that isn’t exactly close to the Bahamas.

  8. @Peter, neither the Canadian nor Mexican land borders are closed to US citizens seeking re-entry to the US. This is the legal quagmire the CDC order is trying to navigate — there is no mechanism to deny re-entry to US citizens, so they must rely on this restriction on “boarding a plane heading to the border.”

  9. If I may give my 2 cents as a private jet charter broker… The first issue is that a private flight is different from private charter. A true private flight is an owner on their own aircraft. A private charter is still classified as commercial (someone pays for a service). So the very same rules applying for airlines apply for charters since they are both commercial (the difference being scheduled vs non-scheduled).

    The second issue is that the only way you can fly commercially after a covid positive test is isolated in a plastic bubble (think adult-size incubator-type box). And that will require a medicalized aircraft. Looks to me like a marketing intern at the hotel had an out-of-the-box idea that no one was bothered enough to fact-check…

  10. The flights only to South Florida….what are the options once you get there. If you dont live in South Florida, are you still stuck in Florida or what? What are your options then?
    Are you on your own or do you have to figure it out yourself?

  11. Everything at Baha Mar is an overpriced gimmick.

    After a trip to their Rosewood, which was likely the worst Rosewood in the system, I came to the conclusion that I never needed to go back and I didn’t trust a lot of what their people said.

    Lots of promises. Almost none followed-up on.

    I wouldn’t trust this ‘promotion’ one single letter.

  12. I’m surprised, given the tact of the blog and comments recently, there isn’t more “WHO WOULD EVER FLY TO SOUTH FLORIDA!!!” Benjamin- agreed on the Rosewood quality at Baha Mar, weird rules, especially at the beach.

  13. @David “So you can enter on a boat or by land? How else are you supposed to traverse open seas other than by boat?”
    To be fair, there are a few seaplanes kicking around in the South Florida area…

  14. IMHO many people imagine Covid19 as a minor illness which can pleasantly be spent at a resort with room service.
    I can speak of cases I have observed in my family and community. I am aware of men in their 60’s that were almost not diagnosed, suffering a minor cough which was annoying for a few days but lasted a few weeks, The younger wife was hospitalized.
    That begs the main issue!
    When travelling are you as knowledgeable and in control as home in the USA?
    Will you be hospitalized before it becomes too late? Covid seems minor till it suddenly is not!
    Does the local hospital and staff have the knowledge and drugs that are making a difference in the USA?
    Avoiding leisure travel feels right at this time.

  15. @Ben If you take a look at the text of the order, there’s an exemption for aircraft transporting COVID positive passengers:

    “The following categories of individuals and organizations are exempt from the requirements of this Order … Airlines or other aircraft operators transporting passengers with COVID-19 pursuant to CDC authorization and in accordance with CDC guidance.”

    Presumably this is how companies like Medjet are able to transport COVID positive patients back to the US.

  16. They did say u can get exception for humanitarian reason on the Emergency travel is required to preserve health and safety (e.g. medical evacuations).

  17. @Anonymous charter broker

    You’re right on most points, but it’s not correct that airlines and charters (necessarily) operate according to the same rules. U.S.-flagged scheduled air carriers (i.e. airlines) must operate under part 121. Charters can be operated under 135. Some charters (including the vast majority of private jets) can also be operated with a CPL, whereas an ATPL is generally needed for a scheduled air carrier operation.

    At any rate, all of that is irrelevant here because the CDC rule requiring a negative Covid test for all occupants aged 2 or above of aircraft entering the U.S. applies to all civil aircraft, whether they be scheduled air carriers, charters, or even your own personal aircraft.

  18. Bahamas to Mexico is a bit of a haul, but this would be a great feature for resorts within Mexico. There is much discussion in FT about flying to TIJ airport and walking across the border. US does not deny entry to US citizens.

    I have medevac insurance that covers specialty flights for covid. Highly recommend to anyone traveling outside USA

  19. This is totally legitimate, Baha Mar and many other resorts in the Bahamas will fly you back to your country of origin if needed.
    The Bahamas government has a health visa protocol and the fees for this cover the costs in the unlikely event of a medical evacuation.
    It is not a scam, and other caribbean countries are also doing the same.

  20. This is a marketing ploy and a cheap attempt to repackage The Bahamas Travel Insurance that is required when you purchase your health visa. The insurance covers all room and board and Medi Evacuation up to $50K. You have to be on death’s door to fly on the so called “private jet” it’s a medical ambulance which only the insurance company will approve. Plus, the US doesn’t allow anyone in who tests positive. When did Baha Mar have the ability to get around US emergency orders???

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