Airlines offer flexible travel options to adapt to spread of coronavirus
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As the coronavirus outbreak has spread, global travel has become a topic of concern. U.S. airlines have responded by suspending travel to various destinations, and many large conferences and gatherings around the world have been cancelled altogether amid a steady rise in new infections.
To help quell travellers' worries, airlines have begun changing their policies to create flexibility in bookings. If you're planning — or have already scheduled — a trip for the near future, here are your options:
American announced that it will waive change fees up to two weeks in advance for travellers who have purchased tickets for flights between March 1 and March 16. That's on top of the already-in-place no change fee for trips that have been scheduled from Feb. 24 to April 24 for Italy, South Korea, Hong Kong, Wuhan and the rest of mainland China.
JetBlue will suspend change and cancellation fees for new flights booked Feb. 27 through March 11. The policy runs through June 1 to anticipate the spread of the coronavirus if it expands into one of JetBlue's travel areas.
"While authorities have not issued any travel restrictions to the locations we fly, we want to give our customers some peace of mind that we are ready to support them should the situation change," said the airline's president and chief operating officer, Joanna Geraghty, in a statement.
Alaska is offering a "peace of mind" waiver for travellers who have purchased tickets from Feb. 27 through March 12. Alaska will allow customers to bank any travel costs associated with cancelled tickets as long as the future trip is completed by New Year's Eve. Alaska will also step up its cleaning procedures for its planes and has issued new sanitary policies for flyers that include cleaning wipes, hand sanitiser and cutting refills on single-use beverage cups.
Delta Air Lines
In addition to suspending travel from the United States to Shanghai and Beijing, Delta is giving customers the option to make a one-time change without any fees for those whose plans included Shanghai, Beijing, Seoul and all locations in Italy, including such popular locations as Bologna, Milan, Rome, Turin and Venice, through April 30.
After expanding flight suspensions to Asia, United is allowing refunds for flights, even nonrefundable tickets, purchased for Wuhan, China, from Jan. 22 through March 29. For travel to mainland China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Northern Italy through June 30, United is waiving the change fee and any difference in fare for the same cities as the original ticket.