The Coronavirus outbreak has hit the United States by storm, with cases of the disease being confirmed in states across the country. Many companies and businesses have begun to take health precautions in order to make sure their customers are protected. Some of these companies include airlines, which have taken a big hit from this outbreak due to many Americans feeling hesitant to travel. Airlines have begun to make changes to their policies as well as take other necessary measures in order to keep the company afloat after the disease caused a drop in demand for these flights. Some airlines have come up with their own modifications that they believe will benefit their company and all of its loyal customers.
Want to learn more about traveling during this outbreak? Take a look at Travel Tips and Cancellations During the Coronavirus Outbreak.
United Airlines announced Wednesday that they will be reducing the number of flights they are offering for the month of April. The airline will be cutting international flights by 20% and flights within the United States and Canada will be cut down by 10%. In a statement by United, it says that they are suspending flights between the United States and Beijing, Chengdu, Hong Kong, and Shanghai until April 30. Similar cuts to flights are possible for the month of May as well. United is also offering to waive change fees, fare differences, and allow refunds in order to give customers flexibility with previously booked flights through the company.
JetBlue also announced on Wednesday that they plan to reduce capacity by 5% in the next term. The airline is also suspending change and cancelation fees for all travelers through September 8 that made flight reservations between February 27 and March 11.
Delta has suspended flights to China until April 30. Delta has also limited travel services to Japan and is reducing the number of weekly flights between the United States and South Korea. Like many other competitors, Delta will be waiving fees for all flights booked between March 1 and 31 The waived fees also apply to any international flights that were scheduled for the month of March. Passengers who scheduled flights to Shanghai, Beijing, Seoul and all locations in Italy are able to adjust their trips through April 30.
Flights to and from Seoul, South Korea, and Milan have been suspended through April 25. The airline will be waiving fees up to 14 days prior to travel for customers who have purchased flights from March 1 and March 16. The company will be getting in contact with customers who have been affected by these flight changes in order to help them make accommodations.
Due to a decrease in travel demand, the airline will be cutting its international capacity by 10% this summer, as well as a 7.5% drop in domestic flights in April.
Frontier has extended its waiver policy as of March 10. Customers also have the option to change the destination city or origin, which must be completed by June 1. People who would like to cancel their travel reservations will be able to have the cancellation fee waived and will receive a credit that is valid for 90 days.
Spirit announced that it will be cutting capacity by 5% in April, with possibly deeper cuts being made in May.
The airline has launched a Peace of Mind policy where any ticket that is “purchased after February 27, 2020, can be changed or canceled without a fee” and applies to any traveling through February 28, 2021. The company is also promoting its biggest fare sale yet for customers who still want to get away. The companies statement also quoted Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, saying that the risk is low for the Coronavirus and that he encourages Americans to “go about their life”.
Airlines Have Also Taken a New Approach to Clean Their Planes
Not only are airlines canceling flights and waiving fees for customers, but they are also taking extra precautions in order to keep their planes clean. The International Air Transport Association has published guidelines that airports should be following in order to protect both the customers and the crews from COVID-19. These guidelines include disinfecting surfaces throughout the aircraft, having Cabin attendants wear masks and gloves while interacting with passengers, as well as having the Cabin attendants equipped with a thermometer to check passengers’ temperatures. These guidelines are not mandatory but are strongly encouraged to ensure everyone is protected.
Even with these guidelines in place, some airlines are changing their own policies and procedures in order to stop the spread of the disease. According to Today.com, Southwest Airlines has air circulation systems that are using HEPA filters, which are used in hospitals. Delta has also decided to add a fogging process to their cleaning procedures on the aircraft. All trans-Atlantic flights will be fogged after the initial cleaning. Other airlines are spending more time cleaning each aircraft and promoting healthy habits to their passengers such as washing their hands regularly.