Multiple airlines offering waivers for flight changes amidst coronavirus outbreak

Jan 28 2020, 7:53 pm

Concerns in the travel industry surrounding coronavirus continue to grow as multiple airlines have issued offerings for fee waivers allowing passengers more time to change their flights to China.

American Airlines has implemented a “special exception policy to (its) travel partners that is now available for mutual customers due to the possible effect from the Coronavirus.”

The change fee waiver applies for travel dates been January 24 to March 31, 2020, meaning that individuals who were scheduled to fly between these days to Beijing or Shanghai now have the option to change flights without having to pay a fee to do so.

Delta implemented a similar policy between January 24 to February 29, 2020, for flights to Beijing and Shanghai, with the waiver permitting customers the flexibility to make a “one-time change” to their travel itinerary without having to pay a change fee.

“Travellers with Wuhan in their journey are being screened by the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) upon arrival to New York, San Francisco, Atlanta, Chicago-O’Hare, and Los Angeles, in addition to screenings in China. Other US airports are also reportedly screening passengers who have Wuhan as part of their travel journey,” the airline explained in a statement on their website.

United Airlines is also offering refunds to travellers venturing to Wuhan if they purchased their ticket by January 21, and are expected to travel there from now until March 29, 2020.

Additionally, United is allowing for additional flexibility for those journeying to other destinations within China.

The airline also explained that “customers travelling to and from China will need to complete additional health screenings upon arrival and departure.”

The CDC issued a level 3 travel advisory on Monday, its highest level, recommending travellers avoid nonessential travel to China.

It’s not just airlines in the US that are making these changes, however.

Air Canada has also extended a “goodwill policy” relating to coronavirus and flights journeying to Beijing and Shanghai.

“If you are scheduled to travel during the affected period, you can retrieve your booking and change your flight free of charge, subject to availability in the cabin you originally purchased. Otherwise, any fare difference will apply,” the airline stated on their website on Tuesday.

Customers travelling to, from, or through Wuhan also have the option of cancelling their flight for a full refund.

The Government of Canada has advised travellers to avoid all travel to Hubei Province, including Wuhan, Huanggang, and Ezhour.

As of Tuesday, Canada had one confirmed case of coronavirus and one presumptive case, both in Toronto. Vancouver health authorities have also presumptively confirmed a third case of the virus in British Columbia, as well.

Emily RumballEmily Rumball

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